The cost for long-term care will rise, said Doug Graham, minister of Health and Social Services.
While the minister could not say how much fees-per-bed will grow, a proposal should be ready for the fall legislature.
The rising costs are on par with
the territory’s aging population. Fees haven’t kept up, said Graham.
“I don’t think there’s been an increase in 10 years,” he said. People currently pay about $18 a day, while each bed costs between $320 to $400 a day, depending on the facility and the care required.
The fee hike will consider the minimum amounts received from various pension programs, said Graham.
About 20 people are on a wait-list for long-term care across the territory.
Plans are being made to increase the number of available beds. This week, 10 residents moved into the Thomson Centre adjacent to Whitehorse General Hospital. They came from the hospital, other facilities and the community.
Last summer, 18 beds opened in the centre, which has the capacity for 44 beds.
“We are trying to work to get the rest of the Thomson Centre available,” he said.
That will require relocating some staff currently working in the building. It’s unclear when the moves will happen, said Graham.
A small palliative care unit may end up in the centre, he said. But this will require renovations, expected to take four to six months.
“We’re hoping to get it done relatively quickly,” said Graham.
The government would like to see another long-term care facility built, whether operated privately or by the government. A company has expressed interest in operating a long-term care facility in Whitehorse, said Graham. The government is waiting to see a proposal from the company, and will consider it if it seems reasonable.
The department is also working to address the need for doctors in the territory.
Part of the shortage is due to the ending of a special licence program for international medical graduates. Under the program, doctors could practise for five years in the Yukon before having to take a national exam. It ended in 2010.
Right now, the territory does not have enough doctors trained as supervisors to run the program. The department is working on a deal to have doctors sent out of the Yukon to be trained as supervisors. The agreement should hopefully be in place by the end of the fall, and will likely be with Alberta, he said.
Graham had no update on the search for a doctor for Watson Lake, but is “very optimistic” one will be found.
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