A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility.

The survey has garnered a spirited response from Yukoners according to Jenn Ellis, a coordinator working on the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce’s Community Travel project.

The survey closes at the end of this month and has already seen more than 600 respondents.

“There’s obviously a very high interest in this topic, it’s important to a lot of people both inside Whitehorse and out in the communities,” Ellis said.

“Many people who live in Whitehorse have community connections and want to get home to visit family or for cultural activities and can’t, or get released from hospital and can’t get back. The response reinforces how important this issue is.”

Next month, data will be compiled from the survey and some recommendations for solving the problem will be conceived, Ellis said.

The survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives this year that point out the lack of travel options in the Yukon.

More than four reports issued in 2020 called for improved transportation for medical travel, seniors, First Nations women and people recently discharged from the correctional centre. The Putting People First report, an independent review of the Yukon’s health and social services released in April, called transportation a “significant issue.”

The report says that lack of transportation options worsens health inequities and hinders low-income Yukoners’ ability to attend health appointments, participate in activities and utilize employment opportunities.

It recommended that all levels of government work together to leverage funding and provide cost-effective public transportation across the Yukon.

The Putting People First report and the Yukon government’s Aging in Place Action Plan, released in September, both noted transportation as an issue for seniors.

“When people lack transportation options, it severely limits their ability to participate in society and to access services, including health and social services,” the government’s plan says.

The plan notes that lack of transportation inhibits seniors’ abilities to travel to medical appointments and increases social isolation.

In January, a two-week inquiry into the 2013 death of Cynthia Blackjack highlighted the lack of medical travel as an aggravating factor that worsened her situation.

On the day before her death, Blackjack was advised by health practitioners to find a ride from Carmacks to the Whitehorse General Hospital. Nurses testified during the inquest that the community’s single ambulance necessitated difficult decisions of when to dispatch it. Blackjack was ultimately medevaced to Whitehorse the following day, and died in transit.

The inquest’s jury recommended dedicated medical travel to Whitehorse for Carmacks residents who require care.

Safe and affordable transportation was also one of the recommendations for improving community safety in the strategy addressing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-spirit+ people (MMIWG2S+), released in December.

Safe at Home, a Yukon organization geared toward ending homelessness, also issued a report in June that said people are often discharged from hospitals, correctional centres and treatment facilities without transportation to their home community.

Vulnerable people who are discharged without transport are more likely to experience homelessness, the report said. It also suggested that some people who require services in Whitehorse may be forced to reside in the city, rather than negotiate frequent transportation.

Kate Mechan, Safe at Home implementation manager, noted that the Yukon has faced transportation issues for more than a decade.

Ellis told the News that she’s heard from a number of organizations that are also faced with transportation barriers. The food bank, parks association and the hospital have all been challenged to transport food hampers, equipment, volunteers, and patient family members to and from Whitehorse.

“I think there’s an internal network that happens, a lot of reliance on friends, family and strangers which opens a bunch of other issues around safety and convenience,” Ellis said.

Each of the studies last year noted the problem, and some cited different levels of government as the solution. None presented any specific recommendations for improved transportation.

Ellis said that she’s optimistic the data gathered will help coordinators come up with some pointed solutions.

“(We’re) looking at some different ideas for how to address the issue, including what’s been tried in other areas, and so the options analysis will start putting some ideas for discussion on the table,” Ellis said.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at gabrielle.plonka@yukon-news.com

Dawson CityHaines JunctionTransportationWatson LakeWhitehorse

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

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read