FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 21, 2023
WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is urging the Premier to step in and address the many issues crippling the health care system before it completely collapses. It has become clear to Yukoners that the Minister of Health and Social Services refuses to listen to the concerns provided by communities, health care partners, and professionals. Everyone involved in health care is paying the price.
The list of issues facing the health care system is long.
- The wait list for Yukoners to find a family doctor is well over 3,000;
- Yukoners without a family doctor are being told to go to the emergency room at the hospital, which is causing more stress in the ER;
- For their own political survival, the Liberals are planning to poach doctors with existing practices to work at the walk-in clinic mandated by the Confidence and Supply Agreement, which will divert family doctors from their current patients;
- Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals are being burned out as there’s nobody else to cover due to staffing shortages;
- There is no dedicated position for recruiting more doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to the Yukon; the only recruitment position is for locums with the Yukon Medical Association (YMA);
- The chronic underfunding of the hospital is now resulting in fewer medical images such as mammograms, MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, and ultrasounds;
- That same underfunding is reducing Operating Room time and there are growing wait times for surgeries, diagnostic tests, and specialist appointments;
- A financial review of the Yukon Hospital Corporation was conducted over the summer, and the Liberals have refused to release the report done by a third party;
- There are shortages of EMS volunteers in rural Yukon, with people in Dawson forming their own group to deal with a lack of ambulance service;
- Health professionals from Whitehorse are covering communities in rural Yukon who are experiencing extended health centre closures, diverting resources from EMS and medevac services; and,
- A mental health clinic has recently announced it is shutting down due to the government’s failure to keep a commitment in the YMA agreement.
Medical professionals are also publicly sounding the alarm. The former president of the Yukon Medical Association and longtime Yukon physician has posted on social media that health care in the Yukon and in Whitehorse is ‘not sustainable in its current state,’ is ‘on the downslide and crashing,’ and is in ‘distress’. He goes on to say there are ‘no takers for the walk-in clinic and hospitalist program,’ and doctors ‘are wanting to quit.’
“Despite Yukoners’ posts on social media, letters, and face-to-face meetings raising these massive challenges, the Minister continues to insist that there’s nothing wrong and that none of this is her fault,” said Health and Social Services Critic Brad Cathers. “Everyone but the Liberals can see the health care system is in crisis. The Premier has shown that he will take over files that his Ministers have fumbled – such as the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter – and there is no bigger issue facing Yukoners than the developing crisis in health care. Immediate action is needed to address the many failings in the system.”