Yukon gov't mum on Whistle Bend facility operation costs

The Yukon government can't say what it will cost to operate the planned Whistle Bend extended care facility. 'Politics trumps good financial management,' says the opposition.

Yukon opposition MLAs press for answers on extended care facility's expected costs

A design illustration of the planned Whistle Bend continuing care facility in Whitehorse. The government's aim is to have the facility built by 2018. (Yukon government)

Yukon opposition parties want to know how much it will cost to operate and maintain the planned Whistle Bend extended care facility.

The issue came up Wednesday in the legislature, with both the NDP's Lois Moorcroft and Liberal leader Sandy Silver nipping at the government's heels on the issue.

MLA Lois Moorcroft said either the government doesn't know what it will cost to run the new facility, or it isn't saying. 'Neither is acceptable,' she said.

Moocroft said the government has budgeted $146 million to build the 150-bed facility (which may later be expanded to 300 beds), but hasn't divulged what it will cost to run the facility once it's built.

"Either the minister doesn't know the cost, or he's refusing to tell Yukoners. Neither is acceptable," Moorcroft said.

Health minister Mike Nixon told Moorcroft his department is working on "tightening up" the operational and maintenance numbers, saying "we don't have an answer for the member opposite today."

Auditor general's advice

Silver pointed to a 2013 auditor general's report that criticized the Yukon government for failing to consider the operation and maintenance costs of large projects such as the hospitals in Dawson City and Watson Lake.

The Liberal leader pressed the government to explain how it's following the auditor general's advice in the case of the Whistle Bend facility. 

"Why is the Yukon Party ignoring the advice of the auditor general when it comes to financial management of projects?" Silver asked.

He also accused the government of rushing ahead with construction in an election year, saying it shows how "politics trumps good financial managment." 

Good financial management means 'money in the bank,' said Premier Darrell Pasloski. (CBC)

"The government doesn't know what they are, even though construction is already well underway." 

Premier Darrell Pasloski responded by touting his government's track record.

"The best indicator of financial management is a party that runs a consistent, modest surplus and is the envy of the country by having money in the bank," he said.

Pasloski also said, again, that the Liberals and NDP would cancel the Whistle Bend project.

The government is aiming to have the facility built by 2018.