The Liberal government is hinting that funding for more continuing care beds at the Thomson Centre could be part of this year’s upcoming budget. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Liberals hint more beds are coming for the Thomson Centre

Government won’t confirm details until budget tabled in March

The Liberal government is hinting that funding for more continuing care beds at the Thomson Centre will be part of this year’s budget when it’s released in around two weeks.

Cabinet spokesperson Sunny Patch confirmed that adding more beds at the Thomson Centre is “something we’re looking into.” Patch said she couldn’t say more because the territorial budget hasn’t been tabled yet.

“I can’t confirm the addition of the beds but I can confirm that people will get more information about this possible project when the budget is tabled,” she said.

Earlier this week the official Opposition put out a press release calling on the government to “explore solutions” to the bed shortage including considering putting more beds into the Thomson Centre.

“We have been urging government for months to come up with a better plan to address continuing care pressures while the Whistle Bend facility is under construction,” Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers said.

A 150-bed continuing care facility in Whistle Bend is slated to be completed in September.

Whitehorse General Hospital has been struggling for years with patients who need continuing care taking up acute care beds. About 40 per cent of the beds are being used by patients who need continuing care, officials said in November. Around that time the hospital was averaging about 85 to 95 per cent capacity.

In 2016 the former Yukon Party government found an extra $5 million for a plan to expand continuing care and improve home care. It included 10 new beds for the Thomson Centre.

“At the time, one of the things that was under consideration was whether … all of the space within it could be used for continuing care,” Cathers said.

In the end the former government decided on 10 beds, taking up just a portion of the space.

“There are other uses in a section of that facility and at the time the decision was made to open up 10 beds,” Cathers said.

Cathers said he thinks room could be made for about 10 more beds, though he said his memory from two years ago might be wrong and different plans could have different numbers.

The next session of the Yukon legislative assembly starts March 1. The government is required to table the bills it plans to consider, including the budget, in the first five days. Normally the premier tables the budget on day one.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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