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Yukon’s opposition parties ask for transparency on COVID-19 decisions

Both the NDP and Yukon Party have asked for more information on CMOH advice

MLAs in the legislature had their chance to question the government Nov. 8 after a state of emergency was declared due to rising case numbers of COVID-19 across the territory.

Both the Yukon Party and NDP representatives had questions about how the government is dealing with an outbreak in schools and concerns around how advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health is being communicated.

“The CMOH’s public health recommendations should be public. Yukoners deserve to know what their CMOH is saying, so will this government commit to making the CMOH’s recommendations public?” asked NDP leader Kate White.

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon echoed calls for more information to be released.

“We also urge the government to make all recommendations and advice from the CMOH public. We would like the government to share more information and data about our current caseloads with Yukoners, as well as provide more frequent updates about the capacity of our hospitals and, in particular, ICU beds,” added Dixon.

The Yukon Party asked for regular COVID-19 briefings by the acting chief medical officer of health for opposition parties and called on the government to release daily press release updates during the state of emergency.

Concerns about the rapidly increasing number of outbreaks in schools, both in Whitehorse and in the communities, have also come up at the legislature.

On Monday Kate White introduced a letter to the house, signed by over 80 parents, calling for rapid tests to be deployed in schools.

In response to questions on Nov. 9 about using rapid tests in schools, Premier Sandy Silver and Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said they are following advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“We continue to follow the recommendations of our public health experts, and this includes in relation to testing — all forms of testing,” said McPhee. “ I am certainly not speaking on behalf of the minister, but we currently do not have any schools closed here in the territory. We have a testing and contact-tracing strategy that has been effective in dealing with the spread of COVID-19 in our territory.”

But noting that 11 classes have been closed at Ecole Whitehorse Elementary School, where his own children attend, Dixon said the government is not taking the problem seriously enough.

“For the premier and the deputy premier to be so dismissive of that and to ignore those significant ramifications on parents and kids as a result of having those classrooms closed down, I think it just shows that they’re fairly out of touch,” said Dixon.

“We’re disappointed in the lack of answers around rapid testing,” he said.

Dixon also raised concerns about parents who need to take time off work to deal with outbreaks in their children’s classes.

He also highlighted that businesses will need support in order to implement the new mandates.

“As we move into the latter part of the week, we will have that opportunity to work directly with our chambers and the business sectors once information rolls out on our protocols to ensure that we can either augment programs that are in place right now or look at specific programs that can support our private sector,” responded Ranj Pillai. “That information is going to be out in the next couple of days. I think that our departments are well-poised to be able to support.”

Contact Haley Ritchie at