FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 14, 2023
WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition has been repeatedly calling on the government for years to develop a new Health Human Resources Strategy and is glad to see some signs of forward movement on this long-awaited plan. However, while the commitments outlined in the strategy are generally fine enough, what is disappointing is the lack of specific actions and lack of a sense of urgency to address the growing health care crisis.
“Action was needed years ago, and urgent action is needed now to deal with the growing health care crisis, including the Yukon’s shortage of health professionals,” noted Health and Social Services Critic Brad Cathers. “What is missing in this long-awaited document are the immediate and short-term actions needed to respond to this crisis, which includes thousands of Yukoners who do not have a doctor, and growing wait times for surgeries and other necessary health services.”
The strategy contains some new items, but some of the actions are recycled commitments that have not been delivered. The strategy itself acknowledges that ‘not all the initiatives in this strategy are new, what is different is our shared commitment to moving forward on them together.’
“The Minister of Health’s message in the strategy says this about the government’s work in this vital area, ‘we are just getting started,’” added Cathers. “That, fundamentally, is the problem. Urgent action is needed, and the government has committed to developing plans to fix the health care crisis. To the extent that there are timelines for the items they’re committed to working on, many are years out – some over 3 years down the road.”
The Yukon Party Official Opposition has suggested actions that could be taken quickly, including following the lead of provinces that have allowed doctors and surgeons trained in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand to practice without delay, and sped up the licensing of nurses from a short list of countries with high standards of training. In addition, instead of spending $170,000 on Premier Pillai’s trip to India, the government could have used that money to immediately increase and expand bursaries for Yukon students receiving training in health fields.