Bilingual health clinic opens doors in Whitehorse

Constellation Health Centre is the new clinic opening up in Whitehorse on Monday. This is their front door on 4th Avenue.  (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)
Constellation Health Centre is the new clinic opening up in Whitehorse on Monday. This is their front door on 4th Avenue. (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)

A new bilingual health clinic opened its doors for the first time in Whitehorse Monday.

Until now, Yukoners who didn't have a family doctor had to go to the emergency room for basic care.

The Centre de Santé Constellation Health Centre is taking applications for patients.

As of Friday, clinic staff say over 750 people applied, with roughly 130 getting immediate spots.

Anna Desmarais/CBC
Anna Desmarais/CBC

Alethea Stobbe, the director of integrated health services at the Yukon government, said that they will be able to take in more patients once the centre moves to its permanent location on Quartz Road.

"We do actually expect to be able to take all the people that have currently applied in the coming months," Stobbe said. "So if you've been told that you've been waitlisted, it's just a matter of time before we're able to take you in."

Stobbe said the department is prioritizing certain patients, like those who note on their application that they want healthcare services in French.

Lorraine Taillefer, the president of the Association Franco-Yukonnais, said the opening of the clinic is a "memorable" day for the French community. Some in the community, she said, have been working on the territory's first French-language clinic for the last 20 years.

Anna Desmarais/CBC
Anna Desmarais/CBC

Yukon's French community, Taillefer said, is growing, aging and reverting back to their first language. This clinic, she continued, is for them.

"A lot of us are fairly fluent in English but not always comfortable talking about specific things in our lives," she said. "So being able to access services in French will really help that aging community."

Tracy-Anne McPhee, the territory's health minister, said she expects that some pressure on other parts of the medical system, including the emergency room, could be relieved once the clinic is fully up and running.

The clinic is one of two the territory was supposed to open this year.

Minister McPhee said the other, a public walk-in clinic, is having difficulties recruiting staff.

McPhee told CBC in October that there's no timeline yet for when that clinic will open.