We respect the work of local businesses

Mike Nixon, MLA for Porter Creek South As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Monday, January 26th, 2015
by Mike Nixon, Minister of Health & Social Services

In my new role as Minister of Health and Social Services, I am excited about the projects and opportunities ahead of me.

I write today in response to a letter to the editor published in the January 9th Whitehorse Star, signed by Don Roberts and Rick Griffiths, regarding the planning for a new continuing care facility in Whistle Bend. Their letter provides an opportunity to share information about how the need for that facility was determined.

In response to their questions on the needs assessment for the continuing care facility, a local architectural firm, Kobayashi and Zedda, worked with a team of experts from outside Yukon to prepare the report. The lead on the care and needs assessment was Options Consulting, a firm with a great deal of expertise and experience in the health care planning field.

In order to do our due diligence, we also completed a business case to ensure that the needs assessment was indeed accurate and truly reflected the real needs of Yukoners in the area of continuing care. This project too was a team effort, led by a local firm, T-Square Architects, who partnered with a firm which has completed many health care facilities. From Vancouver, the Cornerstone Planning Group added its national expertise to the project.

The business case was directed to rerun the numbers to determine accuracy, make any necessary adjustments to needs, review size options, site options, etc.

Both of these teams, led by Yukon-based companies, pulled together talented, qualified people including health care planners, architects, electrical engineers and mechanical engineers, to make sure that we are getting it right and to provide us with an objective look at a local issue.

Local firms, such as Kobayashi and Zedda, and T-Square Architects, should be lauded for their ability to partner with such highly-qualified companies to provide the best possible needs assessment for Yukon. I am pleased to see Yukon companies leading this work as it aligns with our platform commitment to Putting Yukoners First.

While I cannot speak to how Mr. Roberts made decisions when he was Minister of Health and Social Services, I will say that our government does not spend this kind of money lightly, but instead relies on experts and demonstrated needs to make informed decisions.

Importantly, Yukoners have been telling us they need this project. We know the need is there based on the current services and the current demand, our demographics and how they are changing. We know that Yukoners want this service and they want it to be ready when they need it.

Further, business cases and needs assessments are not tools to determine the cost of a facility, but rather they determine the needs and how those needs can be met. Detailed costing will come later.

We committed in our platform to putting Yukoners first, which includes working with the local business community. We made that commitment because we respect the work of local firms.
I appreciate the opportunity to address these questions and to re-affirm our government’s appreciation for local companies, their expertise and their experience.

In closing, I would like to thank the previous Minister of Health and Social Services, Doug Graham, for leading this project from its inception until now, and for his commitment to Yukon seniors. I am excited to take up the reins and see this project through to completion.