Few concrete promises at health care town hall

A town hall meeting hosted by the Yukon Registered Nurses Association Tuesday saw candidates from all three major parties talk at length about their platforms, while offering little in the way of specifics.

A town hall meeting hosted by the Yukon Registered Nurses Association Tuesday saw candidates from all three major parties talk at length about their platforms, while offering little in the way of specifics.

In the end, questions from the audience brought by medical professionals proved to be most interesting.

All candidates pledged more “collaborative” health care and to sit down with various groups to work on different issues.

It didn’t help that candidates each had five minutes to answer four questions they were given in advance.

Very little differentiated the NDP’s Jan Stick, the Yukon Party’s Doug Graham and Liberal Tracy McPhee.

Graham served as health minister for four years. Stick has been the official opposition’s health critic, and McPhee is the territory’s former ombudsman and privacy commissioner.

The topic of nurse practitioners came up often. Nurse practitioners have more training than registered nurses and can prescribe medication, make diagnoses, and order tests.

But until 2013, they couldn’t practise in the Yukon. The first nurse practitioner was licensed in April that year.

Raquel de Queiroz, one of the territory’s five nurse practitioners, asked the candidates about the barriers nurse practitioners still face.

“There are numbers of things that fall within our scope of practice but because of political reasons we can’t do,” she said. For example, to refer patients to a specialist, she said nurse practitioners need a doctor to sign off.

Graham spoke about the negotiations that took place with other medical practitioners when nurse practitioner legislation was passed.

“Each time you expand the scope of one medical profession, you’re intruding on what has been traditionally on the scope of another profession,” he said.

Ultimately politicians can only make legislative changes, he said, and the medical community has to make it work.

Stick agreed consulting the medical community was important, though added “at some point it has to get done.”

Failing to make sufficient use of trained health care professionals is costly to the territory, she said.

McPhee insisted it isn’t enough to enact legislative changes. The government has to focus on the outcome. In this case, nurse practitioners legislation was supposed to ease some of the workload for emergency room staff and doctors.

Similarly the president of the Yukon Pharmacists Association asked about changing legislation so pharmacists could have more power to adjust or substitute medication depending on the patient’s need and to refill prescriptions.

All candidates pledged to sit down to talk about it.

A paramedic talked about his day-to-day encounters with addicts and homeless people.

“On a daily basis I see a failure to manage patients’ needs properly,” he said.

Graham cited the recent opening of the new Sarah Steele detox centre building, the construction of the new Salvation Army building and low-cost housing initiatives with the Ta’an Kwach’an Council as measures to deal with homelessness and addictions.

“Buildings don’t provide services,” McPhee responded. She emphasized the need for more programming and better housing.

Stick came back to a promise she’s made before: housing-first initiatives. Under that model, people in precarious housing situations don’t have to be sober to qualify for housing.

“To be well they need a safe place to live,” she said.

Graham announced the Yukon Party would unveil a tax credit for people who take care of loved ones, but didn’t offer any details.

In general, the parties have yet to release their entire health-care platforms.

The Yukon Party announced last week it would work towards a “made-in-Yukon” autism strategy.

On Tuesday the NDP announced it would invest $2 million over five years to improve home care. That amounts to an additional 45,000 hours of service over that time.

At the announcement, however, Hanson wasn’t able to say what percentage increase that would be.

The Department of Health and Social Services told the News $6.3 million has been set aside for home care. The entire continuing care budget is $41 million.

At the town hall, Graham also pledged to extend home care.

On the fiscal front, McPhee proposed flashcard reports, to inform Yukoners on how health-care dollars were spent.

The Whistle Bend continuing care facility also came up. Stick said the first 150-bed phase would go ahead, but said the NDP would look at cancelling the second phase.

Graham accused the NDP of wanting to cancel the entire project, calling the statement “ridiculous.”

There are long wait times for continuing care beds right now, he said.

All candidates also committed to work to reduce nurse staffing shortages in the communities.

Last July the government approved a new collective agreement with the Yukon Employees Union, adding more nurses in Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay. But outside of summer, each station will only be staffed by one nurse, with a second one rotating between both communities.

The Green Party couldn’t send a candidate to the debate.

The YRNA, which is remaining non-partisan during the election, said it would offer transportation for people on voting day. For more information visit yrna.ca.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Most Read