Premiers haggle for a better health deal

Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski is discussing the future of Canada’s health-care system with his provincial and territorial counterparts in Victoria this week.

Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski is discussing the future of Canada’s health-care system with his provincial and territorial counterparts in Victoria this week.

It’s the first time premiers have met since Jim Flaherty, the federal Finance minister, surprised them in December with a new plan to curb the growth of health transfers from Ottawa.

The premiers are expected to use this meeting of the Council of the Federation to craft a response. It began Sunday and ends on Tuesday.

Health transfers have increased by six per cent annually in recent years. But starting in 2016, Flaherty wants to peg any future increases to growth of the economy and inflation, with a floor of at least three per cent.

Premiers from the western provinces have cheered the lack of strings attached to the plan while eastern premiers have warned the federal government needs to play a stronger role in maintaining a national health-care system.

Pasloski has characterized Flaherty’s plan as being merely a “proposal.” Others have described it as a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

Other than direct health transfers, the Yukon also receives a special top-up fund, currently worth $8 million annually, to help offset the extra cost of providing health care in the territory. Pasloski has lobbied Ottawa to continue paying this money, but hasn’t received any guarantees.

Provinces and territories will be left with a big financial shortfall under the new health transfer plan, according to a recent report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. It anticipates health transfers to grow at an average of 3.9 per cent from 2017 to 2024, while provincial health spending grows by 5.1 per cent.

The result would be a big funding gap: $49 billion in 2011-12 if the new scheme were in place by then and set to grow over time.

That would leave territorial and provincial governments with two options: raise revenues by hiking taxes or levying fees, such as health premiums, or offering fewer health services.

On the bright side, the new health plan would allow Ottawa to balance its budget and escape the structural deficit it’s currently in, according to the report.

Nearly one-third of the Yukon government’s expenses are eaten up by the Department of Health and Social Services. In provinces such as B.C. and Ontario, health departments consume nearly half of government budgets.

The Yukon’s health expenses have grown by nearly 50 per cent over the past five years. And, as the territory’s population ages, these costs are only expected to grow.

Contact John Thompson at

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

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision


Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read