NDP says Yukon gov't tried to hide cost of $2M health-care review

The territorial government said the cost of the expert panel would be about $665,000, and would be covered by federal funds.

Territorial gov't said cost of expert panel would be $665K, covered by feds

The new emergency department at the Whitehorse hospital. The Yukon government announced last week the creation of an expert panel to conduct a review of health services in the territory. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

The Yukon government expects its review of the health-care system to cost about thee times more than was originally announced, according to documents obtained by the opposition.

Last week, the government announced a review of health-care services in the territory, to improve care and find efficiencies. A five-member panel is expected to deliver a report by October 2019.

The territorial government said the cost of the expert panel would be about $665,000, and would be covered by federal funds.

But according to documents obtained by the opposition NDP, the Yukon government is expecting to also chip in about $1.5 million in "in kind" contributions — in other words, Yukon government staff and resources to help with the review.

Of the roughly $1.5 million, the bulk would pay for a so-called "Tiger Team" of government department representatives, and the rest would go toward a steering committee of deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers. 

NDP MLA Kate White accused the government of misleading Yukoners.

"Why did the minister hide $1.5 million in cost from the public, for this health-care review?" White asked. "What we're trying to do right here is establish the full cost of the full health-care review."

'Why did the minister hide $1.5 million in cost from the public, for this health-care review?' asked MLA Kate White in the Legislature. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Health Minister Pauline Frost did not dispute the numbers, but maintained that the Yukon government's contributions could not be considered "new money."

"It's funding that's already existing, positions that are already created in the government, and their jobs are already pre-defined," she said.

"The staff are obligated to provide support, and they're just doing their jobs as public servants."

White also questioned the value of the health review, which was recommended by the territory's financial advisory panel. On Thursday in the Legislative Assembly, the NDP tabled 25 other reports done on aspects of Yukon's Health and Social Services over the last decade.

"How will this $2-million review accomplish more than the 25 health-related reviews and reports that the Yukon government has done over the last 10 years?" asked White.