Whitehorse: Provincial Premiers are on the right track with the creation of a Health Care Innovation Working Group, says Interim Liberal Party Leader, Darius Elias. Elias was responding to progress made at the winter meeting of Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders, held recently in Vancouver.
“It’s clear the Government of Canada is exiting the playing field and when lines are drawn in the sand it rarely means a quick resolution,” he said. “The Premiers’ decision to work together is a strong response to the federal decision to walk away from being a full partner in the future of health care. On this issue a united Yukon is a healthy Yukon and I support the Premiers’ call and judgment on this issue.”
Elias says the priority for Yukon should be a better standard of access to services already available from the current health care system.
“Some services are better than others in each community and we need to raise the bar across the board,” he said. “Mental health services, recruitment of health professionals, and timely access to medivacs all need improvement, particularly in rural Yukon.”
Elias said he is not optimistic the Government of Canada will change its mind on the issue of providing more funding to the health care system.
“There is always a time when talking and strategizing has to stop and action has to be taken. That is the point the Premiers of Canada have reached now,” he said. “I don’t share our Premier’s optimism that this is the start of negotiations with Canada. It is obvious this is a take-it-or-leave-it offer from the Harper government.”
One area that does remain open to negotiation is the future of the Territorial Health Access Fund. The accord expires in two years and has provided Yukon with approximately $8 million per year in funding for the last several years.
“There’s still time to rescue this program and the Premier needs to continue working with the other northern Premiers to ensure it becomes a permanent part of our health care funding envelope.”
Contact: Blake Rogers 667-8942
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