The opposition couldn’t gag Justice Minister Marian Horne during debate on the draft corrections act.
But they tried.
“The minister is able to get up and read for 20 minutes in response to a question from another government member, and this is just a waste of time,” said Independent MLA John Edzerza during Horne’s lengthy reading on Thursday afternoon.
“As I said earlier, this is a good piece of legislation,” added Liberal MLA Darius Elias.
“We’ve got a $1-billion budget to debate, and I think we should move forward in the interest of time.”
A while later, Edzerza rose again.
“I can almost sympathize with those citizens watching this debate,” he said.
“They’re going to be scratching their heads and saying, what the heck are we doing in the legislature?
“We have a $1.3-billion budget to debate and the minister consistently wants to go on and on and on and answering her own questions.”
At the end of the lengthy debate, the corrections act was passed without any changes.
But NDP MLA Steve Cardiff has some concerns.
The act allows for the privatization of the jail.
“And private corporations’ first priority is to generate profit,” he said.
“While a government’s role is not to generate profit, but provide the best possible service,” he said.
“It’s a new act,” said government spokesperson Emily Yonkers, speaking for Horne.
“The corrections act comes from extensive consultation,” she said.
Horne does not intent to privatize the jail, added Yonkers.
But by having this clause in the act, it opens up opportunities for future governments to move toward privatization, said Cardiff.
“And our concern is the level of service stays highest and its not a for-profit endeavour, because its not in the best interest of Yukoners.”
Mayo’s medical emergency
Several weeks ago, Mayo was without emergency medical support for 36 hours.
That’s “a very long time,” said Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell in the legislature on Thursday.
“People do not plan the time and date they will need the services of a paramedic or ambulance attendant.
“Why isn’t there adequate support provided by this government to cover off volunteers who, for very good reasons, cannot always be available?”
But the service is available, said Public Works Minister Archie Lang.
“We’re working with it. We’re on the ground and we’re doing just that—supplying EM service to all our communities.”
Many Yukon communities struggle to recruit and retain ambulance volunteers, said Mayo ambulance supervisor Tanya Slavin in a July 2006 interview with the news.
“Lots of communities only have two people and that’s just tough, I think I’d go nuts,” she said at the time.
“Really, I don’t know how they’d do it.”
It’s such a huge responsibility, said Slavin.
“And there’s the guilt, if you miss a call. Or like what happened in Teslin—someone died ‘cause you weren’t there—it’s out of your control, but still the guilt would be there,” said Slavin.
“You’re putting people’s lives in your hands and if you don’t have a good team and a good crew, then (a paid position or a per diem) might be a way to get people to do it.”
Slavin was en route to Whitehorse and could not be reached for comment on the current situation.
She is stepping down as supervisor, said Mitchell. (Genesee Keevil)