Liberals unveil justice, mental health platform

The Yukon Liberals have presented their plans to improve the territory’s mental health and justice systems.

The Yukon Liberals have presented their plans to improve the territory’s mental health and justice systems.

Earlier this week, Liberal Leader Sandy Silver and Mountainview candidate Jeanie Dendys laid out some of the key points in the party’s platform.

After running through multiple reports commissioned by the current government, all of which identify better mental healthcare as a need in the Yukon, Silver promised his government would work to improve things if elected.

“Yukon became the last jurisdiction in the country to release a mental health strategy in 2016, late in the legislative session of 2016,” he said. “The Yukon Party treated it like a box to be checked off before an election.”

But Silver was short on big projects or budget allocations.

The Liberals have maintained since early in the campaign that they won’t be making any grandiose promises without knowing what kind of budget they’re working with.

“We see these promises without the funding attached. We won’t do that, we won’t commit to specific funding until we actually know that the money is there. That’s the biggest piece for me,” Silver said.

Silver said the Liberals would support existing mental health, addiction treatment, and healing centres and work with First Nations “to establish and operate other healing centres in the communities and to help to co-ordinate the delivery of these services,” he said.

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation has been running the Jackson Lake Healing Centre, located about 30 minutes outside of Whitehorse, for the last seven years.

The centre helps people through First Nations cultural traditions combined with more clinical methods.

“We would like to see programs like the Jackson Lake land-based healing be part of a continuum of services that would be used by the Sarah Steele centre,” Dendys said, referring to the new alcohol and drug services building that opened earlier this year.

Dendys, who was the Kwanlin Dun First Nation’s justice director, pointed to efforts in that community to clean up as a way of preventing crime.

Last year, the First Nation mapped the entire area to apply what’s known as crime prevention through environmental design.

The idea is that if the community is in disrepair, it creates an atmosphere that encourages more crime.

Kwanlin Dun removed 2,000 pounds of debris, 800 litres of hazardous waste and 150 abandoned vehicles from the community last summer.

“We would expand this crime prevention program to all interested urban, rural and remote communities,” Dendys said.

The Liberals are also promising a legislative, policy and practice review to ensure the Yukon government meets rules and standards to prevent discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

“Yukon has been slow to recognize the rights of the LGBTQ community and have largely reacted instead of proactively addressing our policies and practices,” Dendys said.

“This work will begin as quickly as possible under the Liberal government.”

The Liberals are promising to develop programs to assist victims of violent crime and sexual assault in Yukon, and to recruit an adequate number of in-patient and out-patient mental health workers.

They’re also promising to adopt a housing first strategy for vulnerable populations. That means housing that wouldn’t require a person be sober in order to qualify. The NDP has already made the same promise this election.

Silver said there needs to be better co-ordination of services for people in need.

“What we want to do as a government is allow the system to implement what they think is going to work. Whether that be in housing strategies or in detox or in aftercare,” he said.

“Then we as a government, we’re supposed to assess what works, what doesn’t work and champion our bureaucracy for the courage to try.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on April 8. Yukon Energy faced a potential “critical” fuel shortage in January due to an avalanche blocking a shipping route from Skagway to the Yukon, according to an email obtained by the Yukon Party and questioned in the legislature on Oct. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Energy faced ‘critical’ fuel shortage last January due to avalanche

An email obtained by the Yukon Party showed energy officials were concerned

Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys), the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. “Our government is proud to be supporting Yukon’s grassroots organizations and First Nation governments in this critical work,” said McLean of the $175,000 from the Yukon government awarded to four community-based projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government gives $175k to projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women

Four projects were supported via the Prevention of Violence against Aboriginal Women Fund

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

When I was a kid, CP Air had a monopoly on flights… Continue reading

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The “probable” case of COVID-19 announced Oct. 10 has been declared a false positive. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Secondary testing rules out presumptive COVID-19 case

Testing in southern labs resulted in a negative final result

asdf
EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Alkan Air responds to lawsuit over 2019 crash denying negligence, liability

Airline filed statement of defence Oct. 7 to lawsuit by spouse of geologist killed in crash

Whitehorse city council members voted Oct. 13 to decline an increase to their base salaries that was set to be made on Jan. 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council declines increased wages for 2021

Members will not have wages adjusted for CPI

A vehicle is seen along Mount Sima Road in Whitehorse on May 12. At its Oct. 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the third reading for two separate bylaws that will allow the land sale and transfer agreements of city-owned land — a 127-square-metre piece next to 75 Ortona Ave. and 1.02 hectares of property behind three lots on Mount Sima Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse properties could soon expand

Land sale agreements approved by council

Most Read