The Yukon’s five-year territorial health agreement with the federal government has been extended to 10 years after the latest round of negotiations in Whitehorse this week.
Premier Ranj Pillai met with federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Dominic LeBlanc, the minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, in Whitehorse on Feb. 14.
Pillai spoke on the importance of securing long-term funding for the territory.
“We’re always going to be looking for more, that’s our job, to ensure that we are fiercely defending the needs of the citizens that we represent,” Pillai said.
The territorial health fund will be split among the three territories, Duclos said. The Yukon and N.W.T. will both receive $10 million per year and Nunavut will receive $15 million.
That’s in addition to the boosted Canada Health Transfer, he said. The Yukon is expecting $193 million from that transfer over 10 years, in addition to extra funding from bilateral agreements.
Work is still underway to finalize a Yukon-specific agreement, Pillai said.
The funding talks come after national conversations with all the premiers in Ottawa earlier this month. A Feb. 7 announcement proposed a $2-billion Canada Health Transfer to adjust the country’s health care crisis.
Following those meetings, Duclos and LeBlanc are touring Canada to discuss the deals on premiers’ home turf.
Duclos said the funding is aimed at helping the country’s health care challenges, including the crisis of staffing affecting every region.
“We didn’t do a really good job nationally in terms of understanding the future needs of the health workforce,” Duclos said.
“Planning ahead also requires collaborating together because we can’t just try to steal nurses from other territories or from other places because they’ll try to do the same thing, and in the end, we all lose.”
The minister added that the focus is threefold: recruiting new health care workers, retaining them and recognizing the credentials of immigrants who are internationally trained.
Retention is the most important piece, he continued.
“Lots of health care professionals have been exhausted by COVID-19,” he said. “Many have left, unfortunately, and some others are thinking of either leaving or retiring early.”
Pillai said the Yukon is already looking at international recruitment, as recruiting from the provinces isn’t possible when every region is struggling.
“We’re going to look at … recruiting in areas of the world where we have highly trained individuals, but how do we make sure the post-secondary institutions are along with us?” Pillai said.
He noted that other Canadian jurisdictions are already building systems for transferring credentials.
“We think that can be very helpful for us,” Pillai said.
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