North

Yukon NDP presses gov't for diabetes, kidney disease numbers

'If we don’t have the numbers of individuals with diabetes or kidney disease, then how do we know if we’ve reached a threshold for institutional hemodialysis?'

MLA Kate White asks whether hemodialysis should be available in the territory

'If we don’t have the numbers of individuals with diabetes or kidney disease, then how do we know if we’ve reached a threshhold for institutional hemodialysis?' MLA Kate White asked. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Yukon's health minister says she doesn't know how many people in the territory live with diabetes or kidney disease, or whether the numbers warrant hemodialysis services in Yukon.

The issue was raised Monday in the Yukon Legislature by NDP MLA Kate White.

"We've been asking for many years, including to this minister, for a clear picture of the number of people in Yukon who have been diagnosed with diabetes — but have never received a clear answer," said NDP MLA Kate White.

"If we don't have the numbers of individuals with diabetes or kidney disease, then how do we know if we've reached a threshold for institutional hemodialysis?"

White said Yukon and Nunavut are the only jurisdictions in Canada to not provide dialysis through a local hospital or health centre. In the N.W.T., hemodialysis is offered in both Yellowknife and Hay River, she said.

A dialysis chair at a hospital in P.E.I. Currently, Yukoners must leave the territory for hemodialysis treatment. (John Robertson/CBC)

"We know individuals who have had to quit their jobs, sell their homes and leave this territory — which is a tragedy," White said.

Health Minister Pauline Frost admitted that she didn't know how many Yukoners have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but said she aims to find out.

"We are working with our partners, we are working with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, to get the numbers, get the data, and quantify the need for the programming," Frost said.

"Ideally, we would like to have the services offered in our communities and in our Whitehorse hospital. That's not possible at the moment."

With files from Nancy Thomson

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