NDP address hospital controversy

The New Democrats promise to fix the mess that is the Watson Lake hospital. "The poorly-planned, unfinished Watson Lake hospital is yet another major failure of the Fentie/Pasloski government."

The New Democrats promise to fix the mess that is the Watson Lake hospital.

“The poorly-planned, unfinished Watson Lake hospital is yet another major failure of the Fentie/Pasloski government,” said leader Liz Hanson from Watson Lake on Thursday. “There’s never been a business case for what the functions of this hospital, and the one in Dawson, will be. Despite numerous attempts to get that information, nobody from the Yukon Hospital Corporation nor the government ever provided that.

“It needs to be very well thought out and it became very clear, when the auditor general did her review of health care in the Yukon, that this government proceeded with no plan.”

The announcement to build the two new hospitals was political and came before the health-care review was finished in 2009, she said.

But the current construction will not be stopped, Hanson said, standing alongside NDP candidate for Watson Lake, Chief Liard McMillian of the Liard First Nation.

The exterior construction will be finished to protect it from any harm from the winter months, said McMillan.

After that, some time will be taken to review what the community actually needs, said Hanson.

The announcement came during a discussion about health-care premiums in the southern Yukon community.

Former premier Dennis Fentie wanted to introduce user fees for health-care services in the territory, said Hanson.

“Such measures attack the universality of the health-care system,” she said. “It is vital for the health-care system to remain accessible to everyone, and as premier, I will protect it every step of the way.”

Hanson also discussed the need for more family doctors and other health-care professionals and suggested increasing the role of nurse practitioners and decreasing barriers to foreign professionals to help solve the shortage in the territory.