Band-Aid Approach to Health and Social Services Delivery has to Stop

Yesterday, the Government of Yukon announced a new model for the delivery of counselling services across the Yukon. The Government of Yukon, in partnership with two NGOs will be providing counselling services territory wide, and filling the void left by the collapse of Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services. While these services will be welcome by those who need them most, the manner in which they were developed highlights a recurring lack of planning and leadership from this Government.

Since November of last year, Many Rivers and the essential services that it provides has been in a near constant state of disruption. This disruption has led to interrupted and sometimes non-existent counselling services. Throughout these disruptions the Government of Yukon took a hands-off wait and see approach to restoring counselling services in Yukon. The new format for delivering counselling services announced is just another example of how the Government of Yukon is developing policy for critical services on the fly.

“Yesterday’s release was not the result of careful and coherent planning, but rather a reactive band aid solution to cover-up nearly one year of government inaction when it comes to counselling and mental health services.” Said NDP Leader Kate White, “The lack of leadership on this file means that once again the Department of Health and Social Services is forced to step into to provide essential services in place of long serving NGOs”

While the Yukon NDP is supportive of getting these essential service back into the community, the decision to have the government step in at the last minute is indicative of a lack of wider strategy.

In January the Government of Yukon took over the Whitehorse emergency shelter because the previous operators were not meeting the needs of the community. The parallels are clear: a government taking over an essential service formerly provided by an NGO without a well thought out plan in place.

 “While there is a place for government in the provision of these types of services, we’ve got to do better when it comes to the planning and rollout of our health policy.” Said White, “Rather than this ad-hoc approach, we’d like to see a government that is developing key pillars of its health and social services policy in an evidence based manner with measurable and achievable targets and outcomes.”