Question re: Dawson City housing - April 24, 2014

Mr. Silver:   Yesterday, I tabled a motion calling on the Government of Yukon to help find a permanent home for the Child Development Centre and the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program in Dawson. These programs have move four times in the last two years as office spaces or homes they have rented have literally sold out from underneath them.

They are, once again, on the move as the house that they were renting has been sold and, as of the end of May, they will be homeless. The minister and I have exchanged letters over this matter several times over the past two and a half years.

I have also raised this matter in the House, including during Question Period in the spring of 2012, where the groups were in the same position that they are now. The minister said at that time — and I quote: “My answer to the member opposite is quite simple: Sorry, but we are working on it.”

Mr. Speaker, what assistance has the government provided to this group in their search for a more permanent home?

Hon. Mr. Graham:     Mr. Speaker, I’m not sure that I’m the minister he was speaking about, but at this time, the Health and Social Services department is aware of the difficulty. They’ve been working with the CPNP in Dawson City in an attempt to find them appropriate space.

As the member opposite is perfectly aware, housing is in very short supply in Dawson City at the present time. We have attempted to, first of all, acquire space in the hospital. When that proved not to be fruitful, we also looked at the feasibility of providing space in the new McDonald Lodge facility. However, we’ve also discovered that there isn’t enough of a footprint — there isn’t enough property there to add additional space to provide a permanent space for the program.

We understand that the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program does extremely good work in Dawson City. We hope it will continue and if we can assist in providing them with housing, we will do so.

Mr. Silver:   Yes, it was the Minister of Health and Social Services.

I do appreciate his commitment here today. Mr. Speaker, as you can imagine, it is quite disruptive to service delivery when you are moving every six months. A more permanent home would provide much-needed stability, both for those who use the service and also for those who deliver it.

The minister has provided assurances in the past that the government would try to find long-term accommodation for this group. “We are working on it,” he did say, and it sounds like today that the commitment will continue, but despite those assurances, the CDC is once again on the move and the people using this service are now homeless once again.

The minister and I had discussed options: the new McDonald Lodge, the hospital, the old McDonald Lodge and also Yukon Housing options as well, but all of those options have so far fallen through. So I guess what I’m asking for today is a continued commitment.

Is the government working with the CDC and the prenatal program to find them a new home? Yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Graham:     As I said in the first part of the question, yes, we are definitely working with them. Unfortunately, the Department of Health and Social Services doesn’t have any space in Dawson City that we could make available to the prenatal nutrition program.

What we will do besides what we’ve already accomplished is we will work with the Housing Corporation to see if there is any space available through that department. We are also aware that the executive director of the program said this morning on CBC that she also had a couple of good leads. So not only is the department working — I’m sure that the Yukon Housing Corporation will soon be checking their inventory as well — but I know the executive director there is working hard to find space as well. I’m sure that with all of us working we’ll find something.