The tragically hip

If you live in the Yukon and need a new hip you're going to have to wait, but not that much longer than any other place in Canada.

If you live in the Yukon and need a new hip you’re going to have to wait, but not that much longer than any other place in Canada.

“There’s a process in place, I think a pretty equitable process,” said Sue Johnson, a physiotherapist with the Whitehorse General Hospital. “Yes, it does require jumping through some hoops, but they’re the same hoops you have to jump through down south.”

According to Yukon Health and Social Services, the wait time for hip replacement surgery is 13 to 29 weeks.

However with only two orthopedic specialists servicing the entire territory, waiting to get a referral can add seven to nine months to that wait.

For someone in pain it’s a long time, but it’s not much longer than the wait times faced by people living in the provinces.

And even combined, it’s still not as long as the two-year wait reported by CBC Radio One on Monday.

The same report stated Yukon doctors were only allowed to perform six hip replacements a year. And that’s not true, said Pat Living, communications director for Health and Social Services.

“We don’t say so many will be done this year. It’s solely dependent on what the surgeon can do to accommodate these patients,” said Living. “If you need it, you will get it.”

It’s difficult to compare wait times between jurisdictions because the Canadian Institute for Health Information doesn’t track how long it takes to see a specialist, only how long it takes to get surgery after a specialist has been consulted.

Comparisons are further hampered because the institute cannot track wait-time statistics in the North – none of the territories report those numbers to the institute.

When the First Ministers Health Accord was signed in 2004, all jurisdictions, including the territories, agreed to submit their statistics to the institute so they could be published.

Living doesn’t know why the territories don’t report their wait times, but the Yukon does submit many other statistics to the institute, she said.

While the territorial information gap is mysterious, it’s probably benign.

“It may be that because the care is delivered so differently it can’t be compared to the provinces,” said Leona Hollingsworth, an institute spokesperson.

The demand for joint replacement surgery of all kinds has been on the rise across the country.

From 1998 to 2009, the institute reported a rise of 106 per cent for both knee and hip replacements.

However, demand for these procedures hasn’t risen very much in the last few years in the Yukon, said Living.

While they wait, there are a number of resources available to help people prepare for surgery. The hospital offers physiotherapy, and the Canadian Orthopedic Foundation has a free, Canada-wide, peer-to-peer telephone information service.

For those Yukoners who are waiting for a joint replacement, the good news is that there are 1.4 million Canadians waiting just as long.

Contact Josh Kerr at

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read