Yukon government plan for long term care under fire

Health minister defends government promise to build a 300 bed continuing care facility in Whitehorse, while opposition politicians question whether that's the right approach.

Opposition says 300-bed facility in Whitehorse would have more people than some rural communities

NDP MLA Jan Stick says a centralized 300 bed continuing care facility in Whitehorse is the wrong path to do down. (CBC)
The Yukon Party government's promise to build a $7 million continuing care facility in Whitehorse is raising alarms from political opponents.

It was one of the biggest projects announced by Premier Darrell Pasloski in his March 25 budget speech.

Seniors make up about 10 per cent of Yukon's population and the Yukon Bureau of Statistics says that number will continue to grow.

Opposition politicians, including New Democrat MLA Jan Stick, say they're appalled that the government is going to put as many as 300 people in one facility.   

"It's huge, it's big and I think about the seniors, elders and individuals that might have to leave their communities, their families, places they've lived all their lives, and have to move to Whitehorse and be isolated, here, in a facility away from those family and support systems," says Stick.

Minister says opposition fearmongering

Health and Social Services Minister Doug Graham accuses the opposition of fearmongering. He says it's common sense that the biggest need for long term care will be in Whitehorse.

"One of the simple facts of life is that the vast majority of seniors do live in or around the city of Whitehorse," say Graham.

Graham isn't the only one who says the plan makes sense.

Senior Stan Marinoske says the having seniors live together in Whitehorse seems like a good idea to him. (CBC)
Stanley Marinoske is on the executive of the local Kiwanis Club, which provides services to seniors, among others. He likes the idea of seniors being close to each other.

"I think it's an excellent idea if it's located in a good spot where other services are available for seniors, especially who don't have vehicles anymore," says Marinoske. "They have easy accessibility to grocery stores, drug stores and so forth." 

Graham says consultation still has to be done on the facility and hints major changes could be made.

Meanwhile the opposition has questions about privatization of the service and it's expected to be a big issue in the spring sitting of the legislature now underway.