Yukon gov'ts pledge co-ordinated approach to tackling homelessness

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation, City of Whitehorse and the Yukon government released on Thursday the next steps in their Vulnerable People at Risk program.

'We don't have to work harder, we just have to work smarter,' says Doris Bill

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis, flanked by Kwanlin Dun First Nation Chief Doris Bill and Yukon Premier Dennis Pasloski, speaks to reporters about the a new plan to tackle homelessness in the Yukon capital. (Heather Avery/CBC)

Three levels of government have joined forces in an effort to end homelessness in Whitehorse, and eventually the Yukon.

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation, City of Whitehorse and the Yukon government released on Thursday the next steps in their Vulnerable People at Risk program. 

Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis said there is an overwhelming need to protect the city's most vulnerable people,

"We are losing citizens from exposure every single year and I think it's preventable," he said.

"We have to do more and I do believe that the community is on track to do more and working together."

During public forums last year, participants said there needs to be more affordable housing and transition services for people leaving behind addictions or homelessness.

'Work smarter'

Kwanlin Dun Chief Doris Bill agrees. Bill said it's time to stop managing homelessness and put an end to it by streamlining services. 

"Whitehorse has an incredible amount of programs and services available to the city's most vulnerable people but we are all not working together," she said.

"We acknowledge we don't have to work harder, we just have to work smarter and be effective in our services so that when people are in crisis they don't have to jump through seemingly endless hoops. They should not have to visit multiple offices before they receive necessary help."

Last year the city and First Nation hosted two forums to discuss the issue. There will be two more forums, including one on youth issues, to hear from citizens and gather more feedback. 

Then, the goal is to complete an action plan that can be adapted to other Northern communities.  

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