Category: Brad Cathers Letters

Paramedics Save Lives

Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, May 30th, 2014
by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

The national Paramedic Services Week, which started May 25 and runs until May 31, recognizes the individuals who make up Canada’s Emergency Medical Services and their contributions to their communities. This year’s theme, Our Family Caring for Yours, speaks to the large community of paramedics who, according to the Paramedic Chiefs of Canada, make up the third largest health care provider group in the country.

Yukon Emergency Medical Services (EMS), operating within the Government of Yukon’s Protective Services division, includes 58 staff members and more than 155 volunteers territory-wide.

Your Yukon EMS team provides emergency pre-hospital care to Yukoners and visitors to the territory. It is also responsible for air and ground transportation of patients to and from the healthcare facilities throughout Yukon and in southern Canada. It is an essential partner in the Yukon government’s healthcare system.

Annually, Yukon’s EMS team responds to over 7,000 calls: 5,200 calls in the Whitehorse area and 1,300 in rural communities, as well as 860 air medevacs from rural communities to Whitehorse and to medical facilities outside of Yukon.

As Minister of Community Services, my government colleagues and I have been working to ensure paramedics and volunteers are able to do their jobs effectively, providing the best care possible for Yukoners.

Over the last number of years we have added EMS staff in Whitehorse and placed daytime paramedic staff in Dawson City and Watson Lake. Clinical and medevac operations have been expanded and EMS infrastructure upgrades have been made in several communities.

This year, two new ambulances were put into service as part of our continuing operational plan to replace units on a multi-year/distance-traveled basis. These two units allowed our EMS to retire the two oldest units in its fleet. Together with the Director of Yukon EMS, I had the privilege of unveiling these new ambulances in February.

The unveiling took place at the new $8.1 million Emergency Response Centre in Whitehorse, which was officially opened in November 2013. Built to post-disaster construction standards, it houses Whitehorse’s primary ambulance station, as well as Protective Services and Yukon EMS corporate offices. The existing ambulance station next to the hospital now serves as Whitehorse’s second station. Together, these two facilities are improving response capability to residents of the greater Whitehorse service area and providing enhanced emergency service.

On behalf of the Government of Yukon, I want to take this opportunity to thank Yukon’s Emergency Medical Services team for their commitment and dedication to keeping Yukoners and visitors safe. Whether full-time or volunteer, our paramedics, medevac crews, critical care nurses and emergency response coordination officers have very difficult jobs, but they are always ready to provide skilled and compassionate care in times of need. They make a big difference in our lives every day and are always ready when called upon.

As part of Paramedic Services Week, Community Services is profiling Yukon Emergency Medical Services practitioners on Twitter and Facebook.

Yukoners can learn more about the people behind EMS, by visiting:
Twitter: @CSYukon and using #psweek2014

Yukon Government at Work, So Yukoners Can Play (and Succeed)

Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, March 21st, 2014
by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

Yukoners are known nationally and internationally for their love of sport, recreation and the outdoors, so it should come as no surprise that we have a number of elite Yukon athletes, despite our small population. The qualification of local athlete Emily Nishikawa for the Canadian National Cross-country Ski Team at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games and the outstanding performance of Graham Nishikawa as he helped guide cross-country skier Brian McKeever to three gold medals at the Paralympic Winter Games are perfect examples.

Further examples include nationally-carded Yukon athletes like cyclist Zach Bell and cross-country skiers Colin Abbott, Knute Johnsgaard and former Olympic weight-lifter Jeane Lassen. Yukon is well known for producing quality swimmers, successful distance runners, extreme sport enthusiasts and countless university varsity athletes in various sports.

Why is it that so many talented athletes are coming out of this small jurisdiction? The Yukon government’s role has never been more important in creating and growing a culture of active living.

The opportunity to participate in national and international multi-sport competitions is essential to the growth and development of our athletes, coaches and trainers. Many of our athletes got their start as members of Team Yukon in competitions like the Arctic Winter Games. Our team is currently representing us proudly in Fairbanks, Alaska, for which the government provided $400,000 toward Team Yukon’s travel and management. Funding like this allows the athletes and cultural ambassadors to put more focus on their preparation and performance.

The government’s investments in sport and recreation reflect our belief in the importance of an active lifestyle. In the 2013/14 operation and maintenance budget for Sport & Recreation, $3.36 million was identified to support Volunteer Yukon, Special Olympics Yukon, Sport Yukon, Recreation and Parks Association of Yukon, Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle, 28 Yukon sport governing bodies, and five Yukon special recreation organizations. Of this, more than $535,000 was set aside for athlete and coaching initiatives under the Yukon Sport for Life, High Performance and Elite Athlete programs.

Financial investment aside, how is your government helping Yukon athletes succeed?

To foster active living from childhood and beyond, we are looking at the new Canadian Sport Policy to map out our priorities for the next five to ten years and produce a new Yukon Sport Action Plan to guide our funding and focus for years to come. As well, we are continuing to build on the current success of the Yukon Active Living Strategy which provides active living opportunities for all Yukoners.

The government worked with “Friends of Sima” to ensure local downhill skiers, snowboarders and mountain bikers have a place to train and develop their skills. A three-year commitment from the Yukon government to match sponsorship and donations, in addition to the $253,000 to cover debts, has helped volunteers successfully open Mount Sima this winter.

We are also partnering in an initiative involving the departments of Community Services, Education and Economic Development, as well as Sport Yukon, in a new sport and physical literacy program that is a first for Yukon and that benefits children, youth and communities. This project began last fall at F. H. Collins Secondary School and provides students in grades 10 to 12 with opportunities to enhance physical performance in the sport of their choice. It is based on a program in British Columbia that has enjoyed tremendous success. In addition, the department of Education introduced a similar program at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse earlier this year.

As Minister of Community Services, I’m proud to see our government’s funding for sport and recreation put to good use. The results speak for themselves in the success of our many athletes. Our government is committed to seeing even further growth through the dollars and initiatives I’ve mentioned.

The athletes at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games may be only at the beginning of their athletic journey, but I know that we can expect more great things from Yukoners in the future. I wish good luck to all our athletes and offer my thanks to everyone who made Team Yukon’s presence at these Games possible.

Continuing to Invest in our Emergency Response System

Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, March 14th, 2014
by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

Recently, I announced the delivery of a new $336,000 pumper fire truck to the Ibex Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

The truck is your government’s latest investment in Yukon’s emergency response system, and reflects our ongoing commitment to support our emergency responders including firefighters and paramedics by investing in new equipment.

Ibex Valley Volunteer Fire Department’s new pumper fire truck is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that will improve public safety, as well as upgrades that fit Yukon’s specific needs. One of these features, the Rumbler™ siren, emits low-frequency sound waves that penetrate hard surfaces like doors and windows. Paired with the truck’s standard siren, it will alert vehicle operators that the truck is nearby.

It also has a scene-lighting system that can illuminate an area the size of two football fields, and it automatically deploys chains for winter road conditions to ensure that firefighters can get to the site of an emergency wherever it occurs.

Other Yukon Government investments in improving firefighting capacity in the past two years include three new pumper-tankers delivered to the Hootalinqua, Ibex Valley, and Golden Horn volunteer fire departments, and a mobile live fire training unit purchased for the Fire Marshal’s Office.

The construction of a new fire hall for Beaver Creek is also scheduled to begin this spring.

Fire safety is just one part of Yukon’s integrated emergency response system within the Protective Services Branch, which is made up of: Yukon Emergency Medical Services, the Fire Marshal’s Office, Wildland Fire Management, and the Emergency Measures Organization. Together, they help keep Yukoners safe in times of need.

Last November, we officially opened the new Emergency Response Centre in Whitehorse, which fulfills a platform commitment. The Emergency Response Centre is located at the top of Two Mile Hill and now serves as Whitehorse’s primary ambulance station. This new, centrally located ambulance station will help our paramedics provide rapid response to residents of Whitehorse and rural areas.

And in February, we celebrated the arrival of two new state-of-the-art ambulances for Yukon’s Emergency Medical Services fleet. This $306,000 investment is part of our ongoing investment in our ambulance fleet.

Modern equipment is necessary to the success of our emergency response network, but it is only part of the picture.

We also rely on the skill and dedication of our emergency medical workers and firefighters, many of whom are volunteers.

Yukon Emergency Medical Services has 58 staff, including paramedics, critical care teams, and emergency response communications officers, as well as about 155 volunteers in 15 communities. The Yukon Fire Marshal’s Office operates 16 volunteer fire departments with 225 volunteers in unincorporated communities in addition to its full-time fire marshals.

Together with our many full-time and volunteer emergency responders, your government is committed to ensuring that Yukoners get the help they need as efficiently as possible when an emergency strikes.

We will continue to invest in emergency response equipment and training in Yukon because the higher quality of life we strive to build in the territory begins with keeping Yukoners safe and healthy.

An effective emergency response network is integral to achieving that goal.

New Emergency Response Centre Improves Services

Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, December 6th, 2013

by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

The Government of Yukon recently opened a new Emergency Response Centre to better serve residents of Whitehorse and surrounding areas.

Located at the top of Two Mile Hill in Whitehorse, the modern 1,100 square-metre facility has space for up to six emergency vehicles in three drive-through bays and dedicated space for training and conferencing. The construction of this facility in a central location in Whitehorse is helping emergency response personnel to react more quickly to emergencies in the city and surrounding rural areas.

The centre now serves as the primary ambulance station for the Whitehorse area and is designed to operate in conjunction with the existing Riverdale ambulance station.

The building is designed to meet “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) standards as well as post-disaster requirements.

The Government of Yukon recognized the need for additional emergency response capacity in the Whitehorse area a number of years ago and committed to making the new centre a reality.

Planning and development of this facility began because of a commitment made at the start of the government’s second mandate. Construction of this facility was an important platform commitment we made during the 2011 election campaign, and we are very pleased to see its completion.

The new Emergency Response Centre marks a significant investment in Yukon’s health care system and emergency response capacity.

The centre’s construction and opening comes as welcome news for area residents who now have a new and strategically-located facility that will reduce ambulance response times in Whitehorse and surrounding areas.

I want to thank everyone who was part of planning and building the new centre.

In closing, I want to acknowledge the work of our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedics, who dedicate their professional lives to the prevention of tragedies, through their highly-skilled and caring response in medical emergencies. EMS is an essential partner in Yukon’s healthcare system, responding to more than 5,000 calls annually. EMS employs approximately 70 staff and has over 155 volunteers who provide service to Yukon communities.

With this new investment in infrastructure, equipment and training, Yukon government is helping to strengthen the emergency response capacity that Yukoners rely upon.

Kudos to Team Yukon

Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 23rd, 2013

by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

Whenever Yukoners travel outside the territory, no matter the purpose, they become ambassadors for Yukon.

As the new minister responsible for sport in Yukon, I am proud of the way Team Yukon represented our territory while competing at the Canada Summer Games this month in Sherbrooke, Que.

This was one of the most successful Canada Summer Games for Yukon.

Our 98 athletes participated in nine sports – athletics, canoe/kayak, golf, mountain biking, road cycling, soccer, swimming, tennis and volleyball – and I’d like to congratulate all of them for their hard work, dedication to training and the skills, talent and sportsmanship they have showcased on the national stage.

Their achievements are too many to list in total here, but I’d like to make note of a few.

It was the first time in history that Yukon had athletes in canoe/kayak; we sent our largest team ever in athletics, who competed in field events, sprints and distance runs; a number of personal bests were achieved; and runner Logan Roots made an A Final in the 1,500-metre race.

In addition, we are very proud of Jessica Frotten, a Yukoner who won three bronze medals in three wheelchair sprint races.

In these Games, she competed for Saskatchewan, but we know that she carried Yukon in her heart and we certainly consider her one of ours.

Congratulations to Jessica and all the dedicated Yukon athletes who worked so hard to reach new goals in these Games.

And let’s not forget all those who have supported our athletes – the coaches, managers, support staff, mission staff, families and friends. I’d like to extend my thanks to them as well.

Our deputy premier and previous minister responsible for sport, Elaine Taylor, travelled to Quebec during the Games.

In conjunction with other meetings, she was able to be there to cheer on our athletes, on behalf of the Yukon government.

Team Yukon’s participation in the 2013 Canada Summer Games was supported by $150,000 in funding from the Government of Yukon and additional support from sports organizations, the business community and Yukoners.

We are proud to offer this support. It’s a key part of your government’s overall investment in the health, wellbeing and quality of life of all Yukoners.

The athletes who competed at the Canada Summer Games are an inspiration for us all.