A petition urging the Yukon government to stop work on the Whistle Bend continuing care facility until public concerns are addressed was presented to the legislature on Tuesday.
The NDP’s health critic, Jan Stick, who presented the petition, said there are over 300 signatures. “One for every bed,” she said, referring to total number of beds expected when both phases of the facility are built.
Signatories of the petition say their concerns are based in part by information provided by a web-based seminar recently hosted by Yukon College and the Yukon Community Network of Older Adults last month. The webinar was based on a study by an international team of 26 researchers on best practices in long-term care.
It concluded that the ideal size of a continuing care facility should be around 100 people and location should allow for community engagement including access to family members.
One of the signatories of the petition, retired lawyer Heather MacFadgen, said she went to the event having cared for her mother so she could die at home.
“I just think that good public service should be researched and evidence-based,” she said.
This led her and other attendees to write the petition. She said they attended the Yukon Trade Show and left with 267 signatures.
“People wanted to talk about this.
“This isn’t just a bunch of people complaining because they don’t like something,” MacFadgen said.
Stick said she was happy to present the petition to the legislature, stating they raise valid points.
“Did the government skip consultation because they are trying to play catch up following 14 years of inaction on this file?” she asked.
Stick said she recognized the urgent need for the facility and cost implications of cancelling it, noting that 60 people on wait-lists for continuing care beds is too many.
“No, we would not cancel it. It needs to be built.”
Stick said the NDP would be open to make changes to the project based on consultation.
“Sure it’s cheaper to have 300 people in one place, but is that the best care and best quality of life?” she asked.
The Liberal Party also maintains it would not cancel the project.
“We’ve been raising questions about this project for 18 months, but once the government signed a legally-binding contract with PCL we are not about to tear it up,” said Jason Cunning, the Liberals’ chief of staff. “We agree that Whistle Bend was overbuilt and we would consider scaling back the size of the facility as well as funding other options such as home care and facilities for smaller communities.”
Tamara Goeppel, the Liberals’ candidate for Whitehorse Centre, has been an outspoken critic of the Whistle Bend facility. She filed information requests last summer that revealed government studies warned against the Whistle Bend site.
Goeppel has signed the petition, along with potential NDP candidates Shirley Chua-Tan for Riverdale North and Francis van Kessel for Porter Creek North.
Meanwhile, the Yukon Party defends both the location and the size, and now describes the project as offering 150 beds, with the “potential” of 150 more in a later phase.
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