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Final report on Yukon's health-care system delayed

The final independent report looking at where Yukon spends the most in health and social services programs will now be delivered five months later than the original deadline.

Independent expert panel to deliver report by March 2020

A file photo of the emergency department at Whitehorse General Hospital. In a news release Monday, the Yukon government says the panel looking at Yukon's health-care system asked for an extension until March 2020 to submit their report. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

The final independent report examining Yukon's health-care system will now be delivered five months past the original deadline.

The report will look at where Yukon spends the most in health and social services programs and how the territorial government could better co-ordinate those services.

The review of Yukon's health care system stems from a 2017 Yukon Financial Advisory Panel Final Report recommendation.

Yukon's Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost tabled the scope of the comprehensive review, or the terms of reference, in the Yukon legislature Monday afternoon.

"While the review will focus on key cost drivers, it will also seek to explore the extent to which Yukoners are getting best value for money on funding for programs and services, the experience of care and services received by Yukoners and key outcomes measuring their impact," it says in the comprehensive review.

Members of the opposition have been asking for the terms of reference for the review since it was announced last fall.

The scope of the work was developed by the five-person independent expert panel.

The panel says it will study six areas which range from primary health care and delivery models to co-ordinating out-of-territory care to pharamacare benefits.

The panel was scheduled to hand in its final report to the Health Department's deputy minister no later than October 2019.

But in a news release Monday, the Yukon government says the panel asked for an extension until March 2020. 

"[It's] to ensure the panel has the time to do its work and to hear from Yukoners, partners and stakeholders," states the news release.

The final report was due before the end of the year in case recommendations could be addressed during the budget planning process.

Health deputy minister Stephen Samis says the panel will deliver a draft of its recommendations to Minister Frost before the end of the year.

Samis says those recommendations could possibly feed into the 2020-2021 budget so a full budget cycle is not missed.

"That will give the minister at least some preliminary indications of where we're going with the with the review," the panel's chair, Bruce McLennan, told reporters during a video conference from his home in Nanoose Bay, B.C. 

"If you want a better product, given the commitment of the panel members to this assignment. I think stretching it out an extra three months as it is, you'll get good value for your money," said McLennan, a former Yukon deputy minister of education, health and social services and finance.

The first public engagement will happen next month, said Samis during a media briefing. It will be in the form of an online survey, said McLennan.

Frost told CBC News as the panel does its review, it's imperative that it hears from Yukoners as it "looks at potential changes to the [health-care] system."

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