Whitehorse Daily Star

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MLA Patti McLeod

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Premier Sandy Silver

Liberals challenged to rule out health care premiums

Patti McLeod, the Yukon Party MLA for Watson Lake, has raised concerns about the potential reintroduction of health care premiums in the territory.

By Gabrielle Plonka on October 8, 2019

Patti McLeod, the Yukon Party MLA for Watson Lake, has raised concerns about the potential reintroduction of health care premiums in the territory.

“Many Yukoners are already finding it hard to get by, and the medical travel reimbursements are far below the actual costs,” McLeod told the legislature during Monday’s question period.

“This means that many Yukoners are already paying out of pocket to receive health care. The Liberals need to rule this health care tax out, full stop.”

McLeod drew her concerns from a government survey, released on Oct. 2, as the second phase of the health review, “Taking the Pulse: a Health and Wellness Conversation”.

The review is powered by a five-member independent expert panel comprised of “Yukoners and health systems experts”.

Yukoners were invited to complete a survey assessing current care models and potential new initiatives by Nov. 30.

The ninth question in that survey states:

“In many provinces, people pay a monthly or annual fee (called a premium), for their health-care program. The amount they pay is usually income-tested.

“For example, in B.C., there is no premium if you make less than $26,000 per year; if you make more than $42,000, the premium is approximately $900 per year.

“To improve the range of health and social services available, would you support an income-tested premium for basic health care?”

In her question to the government, McLeod suggested the Yukon Financial Advisory Panel also encouraged the consideration of increasing health care fees.

She asked Health and Social Services Minister, Pauline Frost to reassure Yukoners that premiums will not be reintroduced. They were eliminated by former premier Tony Penikett’s first NDP government in 1985.

Frost responded that recommendations from the advisory panel set a “new course of action” for health care in the territory.

Numerous independent panel meetings will take place this month, she noted, with the aim of engaging Yukoners.

Frost said a decision on potential premiums will be made as a result of those meetings and public engagement initiatives.

“We are, at this point, letting them do their work,” Frost said.

“They will continue with the great dialogue with Yukoners, and that’s what we do as government: we look and we listen to Yukoners, and they provide us direction.”

McLeod slammed Frost for letting “some unelected panel” make decisions that are her responsibility. She suggested the cabinet is afraid of taking decisive action.

Premier Sandy Silver responded to these allegations by expressing confidence in the panel’s independent lens as “stakeholders in a very comprehensive part of this government.” He urged the house to be patient on the issue.

“We will, unlike the Yukon Party, not hedge our bets,” Silver said.

“We will wait for that review to come in, and we will act with leadership accordingly at that time.”

Yukoners can find the engagement survey at engageyukon.ca.

Other questions address travelling for care, cultural safety, covering prescription costs and seniors-focused housing options.

The engagement campaign includes 15 open houses in communities across the Yukon this month and in early November.

Comments (23)

Up 2 Down 0

Kate Moylan on Oct 18, 2019 at 4:23 pm

First of all, I can't believe I haven't heard of this survey. What kind of promotion are they doing? Second, I am wondering about the transparency around the 'expert team', working on this. Who are they? Third, I do not support the initiative to charge fees. We are, after all, the Yukon, and we need to attract and retain citizens. There are many here who can barely afford housing, let alone health care. The Yukon government should have negotiated the proper transfer payments with the Federal government in the first place. We are still a Territory!

Up 8 Down 0

Tweeter and the Monkeyman on Oct 14, 2019 at 7:09 pm

These healthcare user fees have been abandoned in more thoughtful jurisdictions. It really is a shame that the Liberal government is trying to create a more prosperous Yukon by making things too expensive for non-prosperous people to live with. Northern gentrification brought to you by the Liberal government.

A lot of people cannot afford a mortgage and now the Liberals are going to make it more difficult - Home or healthcare?
Wait until the Liberals remove the subsidies for electricity. Good times! The Liberal governments ideological bent is to make everyone poor on the backs of those who perform the labour and the means for the government to operate.

The Liberals are literally the story of the five monkeys in a cage. Any one monkey tries to get the banana and the other Liberal monkeys beat the schit out of it!

Please think before you vote. The story of the 5 monkeys:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=y-PvBo75PDo

Up 6 Down 0

Charlie's Aunt on Oct 13, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Yes, thanks Star & Phase 1 for link.
I agree Juniper re income testing. Freely admit there are some who, through no fault of their own, require assistance but I shorted myself of luxuries throughout my working years so I could save for retirement and not be a burden on others. That doesn't mean I am willing to subsidize those I worked alongside who chose to pee everything away on adult toys etc. Even asked one co-worker how they were going to cope financially in retirement & their answer was they'd rely on welfare. Bringing back premiums would be one way of fixing the housing shortage & CO emissions because it will be like 70s again when everyone moved outside on retirement. Imagine that, empty care homes because few old folk living here. Is that what they want?

Up 10 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Oct 13, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Canadian politcians love to beat their chests and bleat about our supposed "universal healthcare" and most of us know the reality. Our health services change province by province and the only thing that is universal is they are all struggling to deliver their mandated health care to a standard that also seems to waver from place to place. Most would agree that provincial healthcare is underfunded, while some will add, what money that does flow is often misspent.
My viewpoints have been updated as recently as a year ago when Yukon's healthcare system addressed my aging heart in the context of middle aged comfort. I was over weight, a former smoker who quit 6 years earlier and did not get enough physical activity as I should have, I had a heart failure.
I have nothing but praise for the kind and compassionate ladies and gentlemen who work in Whitehorse General and St. Pauls in Vancouver. Thanks to them and my regular physician I am much healthier and active, and smarter for the experience.
I did find the $75 / day travel allowance to be far less than adequate for the purposes for which it is intended. YG should use the same per diem schedule all government employees and contractors use to charge back their travel costs.
Keep it fair for everyone.

Up 44 Down 9

Ginger Johnson on Oct 11, 2019 at 12:05 pm

A wage and hiring freeze on the absurdly bloated and overpaid Yukon Government Civil Service would easily fund this.

Up 33 Down 1

Juniper Jackson on Oct 10, 2019 at 7:37 pm

Thank you Phase1, I checked it out and took the survey. Good of you to post.

I totally hate income testing. To take money I worked hard for, and give it to the career welfare folks, and the other groups that have not worked a day or contributed anything to this country. I earned pensions worth $40,000 a year, and have a part time job to make ends meet. That particular strata jacks up the heat, they aren't paying that bill, they get free equipment, free clothes, medical, dental, everything. I have to borrow money and pay. I don't live in government housing, I have just a little bit too much to qualify for anything, but not enough to live on. $900 a year for medical premiums is going to kill me. This panel, like the people that are making the decisions that affect me, are in the 100K or better brackets.. they can afford to eat well, drive a nice vehicle, burn through power with the lights on, and they decide what I can have to live? Those of us that have to rent are so screwed. I think the handwriting is on the wall with premiums. Maybe they are going to say everyone that engaged in this asked to pay!!

Up 17 Down 0

Phase 1 results are available on Oct 10, 2019 at 4:34 pm

Somehow I missed the whole thing about engagement and review. Phase 1 results are available at https://takingthepulseyukon.ca/10752/documents/19299/download.
A schedule of public consultation is available at https://engageyukon.ca/en/2019/taking-pulse-health-and-wellness-conversation and there's a link to the survey as well.
This is important, and not just because of the possibility of paying premiums - please take the survey and follow up on this.

Up 40 Down 1

What a terrrific waste of money! on Oct 10, 2019 at 3:38 pm

The panel of outside experts is chaired by an ex-DM making $ 1500 per day plus expenses and who does not even live in the Yukon. The ex-DM has failed already twice in other grandiose wastes of money initiated by YTG. If we stopped doing reviews and actually got people to do their jobs, we would spend far less money.

Up 33 Down 1

Dean LaRue on Oct 10, 2019 at 10:02 am

YEESH - cut spending elsewhere to fund this - there are MANY places to do this.
Not everything has to be solved with a tax increase.

Up 9 Down 35

Michael Miller on Oct 9, 2019 at 6:52 pm

Yukoners will protest about the concept of health care premiums but they drink and smoke and buy many toys and use the health care system like drunken sailors for every sniffle.

It's time to do away with self serving entitlement and pay your way folks.

Up 17 Down 1

moe on Oct 9, 2019 at 5:59 pm

Hello Beautiful Loser, Patti is the one raising the alarm on this! Not a proponent of the tax!

Up 17 Down 0

I don't know what the outcome of the review will be on Oct 9, 2019 at 5:06 pm

but I hope someone can explain where the money goes. I've read the budget documents, including the supplementals (42,000 people have Yukon Health Care coverage, and Yukon's population is 30,000 ... the discrepancy is explained as 'migration'). 3200 people traveled outside for treatment at least once (10% of the population). These numbers are jaw-dropping - and I don't begrudge anyone medical coverage or treatment, but would love to understand the details.

Up 21 Down 20

BeautifulLosers on Oct 9, 2019 at 10:16 am

So McLeod wants the government to spend more money ... but without a plan as to where that money will come from? Is she sure that she's a conservative?

Up 53 Down 2

Thank you Star for letting us know about the survey on Oct 9, 2019 at 8:23 am

An additional $900 in taxes per adult who has a job that pays $42,000 or more per year is all this is. That's what 'the panel of outside experts' suggests is normal.

So much money is wasted by the territorial government and rather than be honest about the fact that our money is going to a lot of unnecessary things, they say, 'Oh! This is to pay for HEALTH CARE! What could be more necessary than that?'

Once again, they lean on functional Yukoners to cover the gap for a lot of bad decisions and champagne level spending in the Yukon.

Up 46 Down 8

YukonMax on Oct 9, 2019 at 7:49 am

Sure why not? As long as it applies to EVERYBODY in the Yukon! And I mean everyone! Homeless, seniors, Social assisted, WCB claimants, First Nation, everyone. Go ahead!

Up 6 Down 54

Michael Miller on Oct 9, 2019 at 1:24 am

We should be paying premiums since it's not fair for health care to be free here when the money comes from transfer payments in areas where people pay them.

Up 41 Down 7

JC on Oct 8, 2019 at 8:59 pm

Liberal policy: "We look and we listen" then we go in the opposite direction.

Up 37 Down 2

Lawrence Schnig on Oct 8, 2019 at 8:16 pm

My GIS was cut off in July & my fuel & hotel bills were $850 more then my total pension for 2 appointments per month as I find I cannot drive to Whitehorse & back to Watson Lake in one day at 80 years old.

Up 40 Down 11

Juniper Jackson on Oct 8, 2019 at 6:55 pm

So.. at the end of the day..the Liberals did NOT rule out whacking us for Health Care premiums because everyone one else in the world is doing it so why should the Liberals miss out on that money?? Seniors are going to die anyway, so get their money, low income families can start getting used to having to pay for something even if it's just a little bit right now.. and we'll just pass legislation exempting the House..the argument that absolutely enrages me is.. "well, they're doing it in Vancouver, or they're doing it in blahville, which is similar in size and structure to us and it really worked there'. We are unique unto ourselves..

I read a great definition of socialism.. A Mom with 2 son's offered them $10 to clean the bathroom. One son said, I'll do it Mom. He worked hard and cleaned it, and she gave him $3.00, he said..where's my $10.00? And she said, we don't want your brother to feel bad that he doesn't have $3.00.. so she gave the brother who sat on the couch playing video games $3.00 and kept the other $4 for taxes.
I'll be doing my best to vote you and this government out Silver come your turn.. but we better see some fresh, honest faces up on that Conservative poster...

Up 34 Down 14

Wilf Carter on Oct 8, 2019 at 6:51 pm

Folks we know if Trudeau goes back in he's going to cut funding to the west and north and give to other areas of Canada or to other countries. What interesting is Trudeau is giving money to countries his father spent time in.

Up 36 Down 5

Max Mack on Oct 8, 2019 at 4:52 pm

“We will, unlike the Yukon Party, not hedge our bets."
True. The Silver Liberals mostly make sure that all the right pockets are lined before they make a major policy announcement.

Too bad the rest of us have to pay for that largesse.
On top of the all the other costs piling on top of our monthly budgets, will the Trudeau-Silver-Curtis liberal trio also hit us with health premiums? Things that make you go "hmmmmm" . . .

Up 20 Down 42

Preferred Customers on Oct 8, 2019 at 4:50 pm

There should be health premiums with a graduated curve such that the more risk factors you have the greater your payments will be:

Obese - pay more
Smoker - pay more
Alcoholic - pay more
Drug User - pay more
History of Violence - pay more
History of Being Victimized - pay more
Untreated Mental Health Cond. - pay more

People should also be assessed on the environment in which they live in. Those who live in communities where levels of substance use and various forms of violence contribute aggravate social problems above the national average should pay more as well:

Assault rates 2-3 times the national average - pay more
Sexual Assault rates 2-3 times the national average - pay more...

User pay programs could help our healthcare deliver quality healthcare to those who are most deserving.

Up 37 Down 21

BnR on Oct 8, 2019 at 3:45 pm

Patti McLeod from the party that brought you frivolous hospitals in Dawson and Watson lake, a Centre of Hope, and committed us to building a French only high school wants the entitlements to just keep on rollin'!
Party on Patti!

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