NDP promises to use tax credits to cover med school

The NDP says it will cover the cost of tuition for Yukon students who become doctors and nurses and then come home.

The NDP says it will cover the cost of tuition for Yukon students who become doctors and nurses and then come home.

Leader Liz Hanson made the announcement Thursday. Under the NDP plan, newly-minted doctors and nurses would get tax credits for each year they work in the territory to pay back what they spent on tuition.

“If you’re a Yukoner who has the grades and the drive to study medicine we want you to come home when you’re done,” Hanson said.

“We need you to build your future here and we will help you do that.”

The campaign promise is to help doctors, community nurses and nurse practitioners, but Hanson said she’s willing to discuss expanding the program to cover other medical professionals.

The money wouldn’t come in one lump sum. It would be handed out in capped tax credits every year.

The NDP has earmarked $500,000 to start the program. The party hasn’t worked out how much the annual cap on the tax credit would be, Hanson said.

“I would not trust having a politician doing the tax credit calculations. I would suggest finance officials and the tax lawyers are the ones we should be consulting.”

The number of family doctors in the territory has been a hot topic for years. So have staffing issues at the territory’s hospital and other medical facilities.

In 2013 the health department put together a doctorless patient registry which found at least 1,500 Yukoners did not have a family doctor.

It’s unclear what that number would look like today. There is no mechanism for people to be taken off the 2013 list if they end up finding a doctor.

Family doctors are recruited to the territory by the Yukon Medical Association. Other doctors, such as specialists or those who work in continuing care, are recruited by the health department. Recruiting nurses is also the health department’s responsibility.

Scott Wilson, a retired family physician and administrator for the Yukon Medical Association, works on recruiting by answering questions from potential new doctors and travelling to national recruiting events twice a year.

Since 2011, the territory has seen a net gain of 16 family doctors, he said.

Wilson would not comment on the NDP’s platform point specifically.

He said there is no easy way to calculate how many family doctors the territory requires.

Calls to the health department asking about vacancies were not returned by press time.

The health department has a funding agreement with the Yukon Medical Association that includes a number of perks for doctors willing to work in the North.

Recent graduates who now have their medical certificate and sign a five-year agreement with the territory receive between $100,000 and $150,000 over those five years to help cover student loans.

Doctors can also apply for other pots of money including cash to cover moving expenses or to set up offices.

According to the Yukon Hospital Corporation, the Yukon’s three hospitals have six vacancies for full-time registered nurses, and one for a part-time position. There is also one vacant licensed practical nurse position.

The hospitals have 132 nurses, about 25 per cent of total staff, said spokesperson James Low.

“Generally speaking, positions are filled in less than two months,” Low said in an email.

“For example, last year 97 per cent of positions were filled in less than two months. At the moment, we are trending the same for 2016/17.”

The NDP’s medical school announcement was not the only health related announcement this week.

On Wednesday the Yukon Party promised, if re-elected, to cut wait times for the territory’s one MRI in half.

Wait times can currently be up to six months, said Mike Nixon, the health minister and the Yukon Party’s candidate in Porter Creek South.

Right now there are no radiologists in the territory, so results have to be sent south to have their results interpreted, he said.

“So if we can turn that around quicker then we can get people in for MRIs quicker.”

The party is committed to spending an extra $200,000 on the Outside service that interprets MRIs.

On top of that, Nixon said a re-elected Yukon Party government would expand the room at Whitehorse General Hospital where people currently receive chemotherapy.

The hospital is in the middle of a large expansion and once that is completed in a few years there will be space for a larger chemo room, Nixon said.

Yukoners go to the polls Nov. 7.

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

Two doctors in Watson Lake say they are at risk of losing their housing due to a Yukon Housing Corporation policy that only allows one pet per family. (Wikimedia Commons)
Healthcare workers in Watson Lake say housing pet policy could force them to leave

The Yukon Housing Corporation has threatened evictions for having more than one pet

The Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services building in Whitehorse on March 28, 2019. Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed for good say they were relieved to hear that the Yukon RCMP has undertaken a forensic audit into the now-defunct NGO’s financial affairs. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former Many Rivers board members relieved to hear about forensic audit, wonder what took so long

Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed… Continue reading

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. The Yukon Employees’ Union and Yukon Hospital Corporation are at odds over whether there’s a critical staffing shortage at the territory’s hospitals. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
YEU, Yukon Hospital Corp. at odds over whether hospitals are understaffed

YEU says four nurses quit within 12 hours last week, a claim the YHC says is “inaccurate”

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, Ray Hartling and Mark Lange, have filed a class action against the jail, corrections officials and Yukon government on behalf of everyone who’s been placed in two restrictive units over the past six years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Class action filed against Whitehorse Correctional Centre over use of segregation

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates have filed a class action against… Continue reading


Wyatt’s World for Oct. 21, 2020

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

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

Most Read