The Yukon Hospital Corp. faced tough questions Wednesday about its plans to build new hospitals in Dawson City and Watson Lake, as well as raises it gave to some board members this year.
About 40 people attended the hospital corporation's annual general meeting in Whitehorse on Wednesday night, with many asking how it could borrow more than $100 million for the two new hospitals, as well as a staff residence and renovations to Whitehorse General Hospital.
Hospital officials explained that the Yukon government and other partners will pay much of that amount, along with building tenants.
Meanwhile, others wanted to know how those hospitals will be staffed, given a shortage of health-care professionals across the country.
"There has been definitely an expression of concern that … these places might not be able to be staffed, and that's certainly what we're seeing across the country," said Patricia McGarr, executive director of the Yukon Registered Nurses Association.
But Dr. Rau Tadepalli, president of the Yukon Medical Association, said having new facilities in places like Whitehorse will attract more doctors, nurses and other health-care workers.
"I can comment for Whitehorse that we have been able to attract a lot of professionals, and I hope that works in Watson and Dawson," Tadepalli said.
Board raises made in error
As for the thousands of dollars in raises some board members received this year, hospital corporation CEO Joe MacGillivray said it was a territorial government mistake but the money does not have to be paid back.
"We did have a discussion with the [federal] auditor general's office about this situation, and they have agreed with the way that we have handled this and have dealt with the remuneration," MacGillivray said.
Corporation board chairman Craig Tuton said he was pleased with the turnout at Wednesday night's meeting, as well as the questions — even the pointed ones — that were asked of his officials.
"One of the things that you learn is that everybody has the right to their opinion, and I welcome and listen to everyone's opinion as they make them," Tuton said.
However, Tuton added that the concerns raised at Wednesday night's meeting will not change the hospital corporation's plans.