Question re: Continuing care facilities cost - April 22, 2015

Mr. Silver: A business-case analysis was done by a private contractor on the Government of Yukon’s new 300-bed continuing care facility and listed the price of it at $330 million. Now, in this year’s budget there is $26 million set aside for the advancement of this project. Several months ago, the government referred to this as a 300-bed facility. This spring, the government changed its mind and now refers to it as a 150-bed facility. The new minister said yesterday that the second phase could be built 20 years down the road. The government has certainly changed its tune from just a few months ago.

While the government figures out how many beds it actually is going to build, can it at least tell Yukoners what the total cost for the project is going to be?

Hon. Mr. Nixon: Well, here we have another clear example of the Liberal leader not paying attention to debate in this Legislative Assembly. The Liberal leader is well aware that this afternoon we have a private member’s motion debating this very thing. I don’t know if it is just that he is not organized or doesn’t understand the motions that are on the docket for this afternoon.

Let’s be clear. This government is moving forward with an investment in a facility that will have 150 beds provided to Yukoners, many of whom are our relatives, friends, families, brothers, sisters and grandparents — people — Yukoners who need these services. So, 150 beds that will be completed in 2018 — and at that time we can conduct a further needs assessment on whether we need to move forward with an additional 150 beds.

Now I know the Member for Whitehorse Centre, the Leader of the Official Opposition, finds seniors’ care funny, and that is very sad, Mr. Speaker. This government takes this issue very seriously, but we care about Yukoners. We care about our brothers and sisters and family members and providing that level of care to those Yukoners who need it when they need it.

Mr. Silver: The minister can still hurl insults and we will still keep on asking the questions. The public is confused about this new facility. There is a motion from the previous Minister of Health and Social Services that was brought forth in December of 2014 — only a few short months ago — and I quote: “That this House urges the Government of Yukon to continue moving forward with the planning and construction of a new 300-bed continuing care facility…” Now, unlike the government, I have been quite clear as what I would do. I would put more resources into facilities in our communities, and I would not build a giant warehouse in Whitehorse.

Last fall, the government did its own analysis on the potential cost of the new facility. It said the cost will be $268 million for a 300-bed facility, a full $60-million less than an independent consultant. Here’s the question, Mr. Speaker: What number is the government going to use — $268 million or $330 million?

Hon. Mr. Nixon: Another clear example that the member, the Liberal leader, is confused. We have in fact seen how the Liberals make investments in this territory. We only have to look back from 2000-02 when an exodus of people was leaving the territory because of those investments.

We’ve been clear all along, Mr. Speaker. We’re building a facility that will be for 150 beds, completed by 2018, and that facility will be expandable to 300 beds. The member opposite just needs to pay attention to the details and be a little bit clearer with his questions.

Our priority is to provide that level of care to Yukoners, many of whom are our friends and family members — a high level of care. They are no longer able to stay in their homes. This government is committed to providing that to Yukoners and we would encourage the members opposite, instead of heckling in the Legislature this afternoon, to pay attention and to support this program.

Mr. Silver: Pay attention to which motion? It’s a moving target with this government.

Mr. Speaker, Yukoners are understandably nervous when they see this government barging into major construction projects without a plan. The fact that the government can’t decide whether it’s 300 beds or 150 beds — that’s not helping either, Mr. Speaker. The timeline for this project is being driven by the timing of the next election — that is known. The government wants people working on this project as we head to the polls for the fall of 2016. This type of incompetent management will result in more wasteful, overbudget projects.

The government has been repeatedly criticized by the Auditor General of Canada for its shortcomings in this regard. We just heard this week that the LNG facility will be 22 percent over its budget this week, so why is the government moving ahead with construction when it can’t even tell Yukoners what the end cost of the project will be?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: This government is focused by providing health care for Yukoners today and for the future, and that’s why we have the vision to be building a long-term care facility right now for 150 residents, with the ability to expand it at a later date if the need is there. That’s what’s quite clear.

What’s also very clear is that the Leader of the Liberal Party was very publicly opposed to the hospital that this government built in his community and opposed to the new nursing home. I challenge the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Member for Klondike to ask his constituents today what they think about those facilities.

We are focusing on building our population, focusing on diversifying our economy to deliver the programs and services that Yukoners desire and Yukoners deserve.