Premier takes tough questions from doctors

Premier Darrell Pasloski attended the Yukon Medical Association’s annual meeting last week to congratulate Dr. Ken Quong, the group’s newly elected president.

Premier Darrell Pasloski attended the Yukon Medical Association’s annual meeting last week to congratulate Dr. Ken Quong, the group’s newly elected president.

Pasloski arrived in the wake of a dispute aired in the media between outgoing president Dr. Rao Tadepalli and Health Minister Doug Graham.

“I see that you are not wearing any bulletproof vest,” Tadepalli said to Pasloski before the gathered crowd of doctors and reporters. “As you know we are all friends of yours, and we like to work with your government.”

The premier addressed the crowd briefly. He announced that the government will introduce a health privacy law during this legislative sitting, and a new pharmacy act next year.

He also spoke to his work as one of three co-chairs of a health-care innovation working group, a collaborative effort between the territories and provinces.

That group has already succeeded in lowering health-care costs by collaborating on bulk purchases of generic drugs, said Pasloski.

While the atmosphere was friendly, when the time for questions came, the doctors pulled no punches.

One doctor asked the premier how his government will ensure that the environment is protected, as this is a key contributor to good health.

Pasloski responded that Yukon is a big territory with plenty of room for industrial development and wilderness.

“It’s an economy that pays the bills,” he said.

“It’s those revenues that pay doctor bills, that build hospitals, that build schools and build roads.”

Another doctor asked what the government’s plan is to deal with the growing number of seniors who will be needing care over the coming decades.

The premier reiterated some of the things he is working on, and acknowledged that there is more to be done.

“We have to make sure that we stay really focused on what it is that we want to accomplish, because the temptation is there to open the box right up, and then what happens is you don’t accomplish anything.”