Ambulance negotiations pending, mayor left in the dark

It’s been more than two months since volunteer ambulance attendants in Dawson City and Watson Lake walked off the job in frustration.

It’s been more than two months since volunteer ambulance attendants in Dawson City and Watson Lake walked off the job in frustration.

And the attendants are still waiting to sit down with government officials to resolve the concerns.

“Wait until next week,” said Neale Wortley, who is heading the group of volunteer ambulance attendants negotiations with the government.

“We’re still getting ready to do some negotiations,” he said on Thursday.

Although the negotiations have not happened yet, Wortley does not feel like the group is being put off.

“The government’s been busy; there was a flood in Marsh Lake,” he said.

Now that the government has dealt with that situation, Wortley expects it to turn its attention to resolving the volunteers’ concerns.

“They’ve been fair and just with those people and we fully expect them to be the same way with us,” he added.

Health Minister Brad Cathers has nothing new to report about the territory’s rural ambulance crisis.

And Watson Lake Mayor Nancy Moore has received the same silent treatment from the minister’s office.

“I e-mailed the minister on August 31, and I received a call on Tuesday from his office and they advised me they had nothing to tell me,” she said on Thursday.

“I was quite shocked that nothing has been done — he spoke about consultation, but I don’t believe that’s started yet.”

She asked the minister’s office about the contracts for two government-employed attendants who have been brought in from down south to cover the ambulance service in the community.

She’s received no response to her questions.

Moore is frustrated with the lack of action and communication from the government.

“People just can’t believe that they can spend all the money on contract people and they can’t come up with a little recompense for people on call when they’re volunteering,” she said.

“There doesn’t seem to be any movement whatsoever.”

Moore is looking for answers.

“I’d like to see the timetable. What are they doing? When are they doing it? And who are they doing it with?”

On July 9, Watson Lake’s eight attendants handed in their radios. They were frustrated with working long hours with little pay and little support from the government.

Three days later, Dawson City’s 12 volunteers followed suit.

Since then the government has brought in two paid workers from down south to cover shifts in Watson Lake.

The government has also shifted one attendant from Whitehorse to work in the Klondike capital.

Each of those attendants is considered a Yukon government contract employee and is paid between $55,350 and $58,185 annually.

Cathers is away and Premier Dennis Fentie is out of town, said cabinet communications spokesperson Roxanne Vallevand.

Calls to Health and Social Services spokesperson Pat Living were not returned.