FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 21, 2021
WHITEHORSE - The Yukon Party Official Opposition is calling on the Yukon Liberal government to change its position and provide Yukoners easy access to rapid antigen tests free of charge.
Currently, rapid tests are available sporadically in the territory. Most First Nation governments are providing them to their citizens, and Yukon First Nation-owned businesses can access rapid tests from the Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce. Rapid tests are also available for sale, but the cost is prohibitive for some Yukoners.
“Doctors and health officials across the country agree that rapid tests have become an important tool in the fight against COVID-19,” said Yukon Party Health critic Brad Cathers. “It’s unacceptable that while Canadians across the country have access to rapid tests at a variety of locations, the Yukon Liberal government continues to sit on a stockpile of tens of thousands.”
Despite receiving tens of thousands of rapid tests from the Government of Canada, the Liberals continue to sit on their stockpile and have not made them available publicly. The Yukon Party is calling on them to make these rapid tests available to Yukoners as widely and publicly as possible, as well as free of charge.
Other jurisdictions have offered take-home rapid tests at health clinics, COVID testing sites, libraries, transit stops, and other high-traffic locations such as liquor stores. Even the acting Chief Medical Officer of Health has stated rapid tests are ‘the way of the future’. There is no reason for the Liberal government to continue to withhold this valuable tool from Yukoners.
"We should flood Canada with rapid tests," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto's University Health Network. "There should be no rapid test sitting on a shelf, collecting dust in a warehouse. They should be in the hands of Canadians." Source: CBC News
By following the advice of national experts the Yukon government would not only help with the early detection of COVID but provide peace of mind to Yukoners who are unable to book booster shots due to the current unavailability of appointments. The announcement of booster shot availability for people 18+ on December 8, 2021, appears to have been somewhat misleading, as there are currently no appointment bookings available online for any age category in the Whitehorse area.
This contradicts the assertion that all eligible Yukoners should be able to receive a booster by January. The Yukon Government should update Yukoners on the delay and explain why the government is no longer booking booster appointments.