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SYSTEMS AREN’T WORKING – Issues that play major roles in Yukoners’ lives, such has housing and health care, are in crisis mode, says Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon, seen Oct. 19 in the legislature.

Liberals ‘out of touch and out of gas’: Dixon

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon summed up the state of the Yukon at the end of the fall legislative term by saying he is “deeply concerned” about the direction of the territory.

By Mark Page on November 24, 2023

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon summed up the state of the Yukon at the end of the fall legislative term by saying he is “deeply concerned” about the direction of the territory.

“It’s hard not to find an issue that doesn’t seem to be in crisis,” he told reporters Thursday.

“We have an affordability crisis; we have a housing crisis; we’ve learned that we have a looming health care crisis.”

The fall term began fairly cordially, but in recent weeks the mood has grown far more contentious between the Yukon’s two largest political parties.

The bitterness seemed to begin when the Yukon Party joined forces with the NDP in a procedural move to force the government to get at least one opposition house leader’s consent if they want to deliver a “ministerial statement” in the legislature.

At the time, Premier Ranj Pillai called it a “dark day for democracy.”

Since then, the Yukon Party has managed to pointedly criticize the government by digging up a slew of documents from the Yukon Hospital Corp. through access to information requests.

This brought to light a myriad of issues with health care in the territory. They range from long wait-lists for surgeries and diagnostics testing, to the temporary closures of rural health care clinics, to poor recruitment and retention of health care professionals.

And it clearly struck a nerve in recent weeks, with the Liberals sending out press releases fact-checking many of the statements made by Yukon Party MLAs on health care.

But Dixon is sticking to the story — that under this government, health care in the territory is drastically underfunded.

“Everything that we’ve said throughout the past several weeks has been informed by either documents that have come from the Yukon Hospital Corporation, the experiences of Yukoners, or in some cases directly from medical professionals like doctors,” he said.

He pointed to internal emails, tweets from doctors and letters from medical professionals such as Dr. Leo Elwell, who earlier this week said he is planning to close his Whitehorse psychiatry practice due to unfair treatment by the government.

“These are all things that we’ve seen verified by medical professionals and by the hospital in some cases itself,” Dixon said.

As this topic was percolating in the house, the Yukon Party managed to uncover a report commissioned by the government in which accounting firm Ernst & Young took a thorough look into the financial health of the Yukon Hospital Corp.

When this report was brought up, the government essentially stonewalled the Yukon Party, refusing to release it.

“That record will be of great interest to many Yukoners, especially those who work in the hospital or in the medical field,” Dixon said.

Since then, the Yukon Party has made almost daily reference to the document during question period — with MLA Brad Cathers leading the effort.

He introduced a motion on Wednesday to try to force the government to produce the document.

Whether the government would have complied if this motion had passed is up for debate.

According to clerk of committees Allison Lloyd, this would have been a failure to follow an Order of the House, and the consequences would be for the Speaker to determine.

Speaker Jeremy Harper is a member of the Liberal party.

But the motion never got to the floor for a vote.

The debate on a previous motion about rural transfer stations lasted several hours and ran until the end of the day. Wednesday was the last day of the sitting in which the Yukon Party could introduce motions.

NDP Leader Kate White said the Liberals were trying to avoid voting on the rural transfer station motion in the first place, while Dixon said they were trying to prevent this motion to produce the document from coming to the floor.

“It was clear that the Liberals didn’t want it to come to a vote because they spent a great deal of time, multiple hours, debating the closure of the landfills,” Dixon said.

Pillai claimed they were just honestly debating the landfills issue.

He also inferred on Thursday that the report would eventually be released after it had gone through the proper vetting to make sure the information contained in it could be made public, and once its recommendations have been implemented.

Though Dixon said health care issues are at the top of his list of problems facing the Yukon government right now, there were a range of other issues his party brought up throughout the past couple months.

At the start of the fall sitting the Yukon Party was primarily focused on safety in downtown Whitehorse after the Alpine Bakery’s owners announced they would close due to neighbourhood issues caused by the nearby shelter for the homeless.

When Pillai decided to take over the shelter file from Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, the Yukon Party was able to seize on it as evidence of the premier’s lack of faith in McPhee.

The Yukon Party used this as ammunition in debates again and again as the health care issues unfolded.

Another major focus of the official Opposition throughout the sitting was carbon taxes and energy. The Yukon Party has long lobbied for an end to carbon taxes and for the building of permanent diesel or natural gas power generating capacity in the territory.

On this issue, the Liberals kept tightly to script, arguing that a consistent posture on climate change is needed.

Overall, Dixon said he thought his party had successfully held the government to account over the course of the sitting and successfully advocated for Yukoners, especially those in rural areas.

“I’m particularly proud of the focus we put on rural Yukon,” he said.

And much of his criticism is based on his view that the government is not doing what is best for Yukoners.

“I think that this government is out of touch and out of gas,” Dixon said.

Comments (4)

Up 45 Down 13

Groucho d'North on Nov 27, 2023 at 9:59 am

@Namayer N
Are you aware that politics in the global context is changing from Left to Right? Italy, Finland, Greece, Holland have recently changed and Spain could be next. It seems that status quo left of centre governments are being replaced with the other kind and while each situation is different the planet's various electorates are yearning for change from what they have been getting or not getting as each nation may involve. The pendulum swings.

Up 20 Down 47

Namayer N. on Nov 27, 2023 at 2:01 am

Is Curry aware that the whole of the EU has gone with carbon tax for climate crisis mitigation? Is he aware?

Up 58 Down 5

Jake on Nov 26, 2023 at 10:03 am

Hate to be chicken little. But no matter who takes the reins, there is going to be a major reset. We have overbuilt, overspent and mismanaged in almost every file. Been here 47 years and I have seen the government take almost everything under their wing. Hold on to your seats it’s gonna be a mess.

Up 18 Down 33

Wilf on Nov 24, 2023 at 5:08 pm

Was he deeply concerned about the state of the Yukon when he left politics last time and returned only after the so called "Yukon Party" couldn't recruit a leader for 3 and 1/2 years?

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