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Yukon government wants to see a doctor — or 3 — for walk-in clinic advice

Another proposed business model previously fell thru
Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee speaks at the Yukon emergency medical services awards ceremony on May 23. The minister previously promised a walk-in clinic that didn’t have a viable business model. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

The Yukon government has given notice of its intent to consult three locally registered doctors on a proposed walk-in clinic because apparently they are the only contractors that can supply the services required.

According to an advance contract notice on the territory’s bids and tenders website, the proposed walk-in clinic is intended for Yukoners who don’t have a primary care provider or a timely appointment and need access to medical treatment for non-urgent conditions. Currently, the only option for those affected is the Whitehorse General Hospital’s emergency room.

The bid details state the territorial Health and Social Services department intends to direct a year-long, $187,000 contract to Dr. Jake Morash, Dr. Pierre Richard and Dr. James Wilkie.

Per the bid documents, integrated health services wants to partner with physicians to devise a primary health-care walk-in clinic in Whitehorse. The physicians will guide and advise the development of a practice model and help recruit a doctor, a nurse practitioner and allied health professionals.

The contract, which was anticipated to begin July 24, has not yet been awarded.

The latest iteration of the confidence and supply agreement signed Jan. 31 by the Yukon Liberal Party and Yukon NDP caucuses pledges the Yukon government will open a new medical walk-in clinic in Whitehorse by January 2024.

While Health and Social Services Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee was not available for an interview, a written statement provided through cabinet communications indicates the Yukon government is working diligently to open a walk-in clinic by that time.

“Supported by the Yukon Medical Association, the department invited all physicians licensed to practice in the Yukon to submit an expression of interest for this role,” reads the statement. The department intends to strike contracts with the three interested physicians.

But the health minister has already failed to bring a walk-in clinic to fruition as promised prior to the 2023 Liberal-NDP deal.

In spring 2022, McPhee told reporters a “government-supported” walk-in clinic would be opening in Whitehorse later that year. At the time, the minister was light on details such as when and where it will be set up.

In summer 2022, the health department told the News the location of the promised clinic, which is where the former River Valley Medical Clinic was located at 106 Lambert St.

In fall 2022, McPhee admitted the Yukon government put up more than $200,000 for a walk-in clinic that never happened.

“Those doctors ultimately chose not to pursue that business model, so we were back at the drawing board,” McPhee said on Oct. 12.

A suitable facility has already been identified, per the documents. It has a waiting room, reception area, private clinic rooms and office space. The building, furniture, medical equipment, computers and associated software will be acquired and maintained by the Yukon government.

The documents note the clinic will offer “person-centred, trauma-informed” care to Yukoners. It will be run by the territorial government with “contracted and/or fee-for-service physicians” and Yukon government staff such as an office manager, nurse practitioners, medical office assistants, registered nurses and mental health clinicians.

Putting People First, the Yukon’s roadmap on transforming the health system, recommends transitioning away from primarily fee-for-service payment for medical services because it is expensive and incentivizes illness and quantity-based care.

As laid out in the documents, expected components of the work include “evidence-based recommendations” and support on physician staffing and pay, hours of operation, triaging and scheduling, virtual and in-person services offered as well as the clinic layout and design, medical record system and clinic structure, policy and work standards.

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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