Territory scraps contract to hire Watson Lake pharmacist

The Yukon government has cancelled a tender for pharmacy services in Watson Lake, citing community concerns. A tender for primary care physician services, on-call hospital services and medication-dispensing services was issued on February 9.

The Yukon government has cancelled a tender for pharmacy services in Watson Lake, citing community concerns.

A tender for primary care physician services, on-call hospital services and medication-dispensing services was issued on February 9.

Asked what the exact concerns where, Health Department officials told the News the concerns were “linked to the possible loss of a long-time service provider.”

The department also told the News to ask the community directly, but neither the mayor of Watson Lake nor Patty McLeod, MLA for Watson Lake, returned calls.

The local pharmacy, Parhelion Medical Services, and a company from Outside both made bids for the pharmacy services.

“There was a lot of opposition going to an Outside company,” said Klondike MLA Sandy Silver.

“That’s why it was cancelled, we believe.”

On April 22, Silver presented a motion at the legislative assembly, asking that Health Minister Mike Nixon visit Watson Lake to explain the government’s decision to issue a tender in the first place. Nixon declined to be interviewed on the matter.

The same day he introduced his motion, Silver said he asked McLeod about the tender and was told he would receive news about the cancellation “by the end of the day.”

He hasn’t heard back since.

“Our source in Watson Lake, we told them the same thing, nobody has heard (anything),” he said.

More consultation with the community before issuing the tender would have prevented this, Silver said.

“I think it’s the frustration of the community too, they made several requests to have the minister visit and explain,” he said.

Asked whether the community had been consulted prior to the tender being issued, Patricia Living, spokesperson for the Health Department, said in an email, “We had been working with the community for the previous year and the representatives who were meeting with us were aware of the process we were undertaking.”

Living said the tender was issued because the pharmacist currently operating the physician services and medication dispensary is no longer a resident in the community.

“It was felt that if we were looking at a process for stabilizing the physician care, we should ensure that dispensary services were stable going into the future as well. This offered the department the opportunity to consider efficiencies in the operation in light of the need to ensure sustainability, which is something we are always considering,” she said.

Currently there is no licensed pharmacist in Watson Lake, Living said.

“The medication is dispensed by a physician with a special permit to dispense medications similar to a pharmacist,” she added.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at


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