Social advocates face funding cuts

The government is trying to silence the voices of those who advocate for social change, warns the NDP Opposition.

The government is trying to silence the voices of those who advocate for social change, warns the NDP Opposition.

Earlier this month, Health and Social Services Minister Doug Graham said that he has directed his department to move funding away from groups that provide advocacy, but not services.

NDP leader Liz Hanson called the move “chilling” in an interview.

“We think that as much as advocacy can be challenging at times, political change, social change doesn’t happen without it. And I think that government has to be open to listening and engaging.”

Graham has responded that he is simply moving funds to where they are most in need.

“We have only so many dollars we can spend to provide services for people in need throughout this territory,” he said in the legislature on May 13. “We are attempting, with this direction, to utilize the limited number of resources we have available to provide services to reach the highest number of clients that we possibly can.”

The effort will not target advocacy groups that also provide services, but only those that provide no services whatsoever, said Graham. He said the list of potentially affected groups is “not large.”

A government spokesperson said that no groups have been singled out for funding cuts at this point.

But Hanson worries the overhaul will promote Band-Aid solutions to big social problems, she said.

And why target organizations under Health and Social Services, when the government funds a broad range of groups across the government departments? asked Hanson.

“If you look at the non-government organizations that are funded by government of Yukon, it’s quite extensive,” she said. “It goes from the Yukon Mine Advisory Board to the Gold Alliance to the Anti-Poverty Coalition to Second Opinion Society. There’s a spectrum here, and so, do you apply the same lens to all?”

The government has not yet indicated if this new direction applies to all departments or only to Health and Social Services.

The Yukon Party’s social policies are based on ideology, rather than evidence, said Hanson.

She gave the example of the government’s resistance to a Housing First model for helping the territory’s most needy.

In that model, the homeless addicts are given shelter, no questions asked, in hopes that with secure housing they will be better equipped to address their other problems.

“How many times do we have to have folks come here from Red Deer or Calgary or Lethbridge to talk about what they’ve achieved from an economic point of view – the savings in the emergency ward, the savings in social expenditures?” asked Hanson.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

U Kon Echelon hosts Tour de Haines Junction

U Kon Echelon continued its busy schedule with the Tour de Haines… Continue reading

Melted beeswax, community pottery take centre stage at Arts Underground’s August shows

Two new, and very different, shows will be opening at Whitehorse’s Arts… Continue reading

Northern First Nations call for a major overhaul of mining legislation

The Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Vuntut Gwitchin Governments say change is long overdue

Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee recommends First Nations take ‘additional measures’ to conserve Chinook

Recommendation comes as Chinook run on the Yukon River appears unlikely to meet spawning goals

Students prepare for online learning as Yukon University announces fall semester

The school plans to support students who may struggle with remote learning

Changes to federal infrastructure funds allow for COVID-19 flexibility

Announcement allows for rapid COVID-19 projects and expands energy programs to Whitehorse

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

C/TFN announces Montana Mountain reopening plan

Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Carcross/Tagish Management Corporation announced the partial reopening… Continue reading

Roberta Joseph reelected as Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in chief

Unofficial results show Joseph with more than double the votes of runner-up

Development incentives considered for three projects

Projects will add 24 rental units to the market

Delegate calls for crosswalk changes to show support for people of colour

Mayor states support for idea, but cautions it could take some time

Whitehorse advises of water system maintenance

Residents on the city’s water system are being advised they may notice… Continue reading

Walkway, signs planned for West Dawson paddlewheel graveyard

Unofficial attraction may get 135-m walkway and interpretive signs, if YESAB application approved

Most Read