Yukon MLAs question timing of gov't COVID-19 state of emergency announcement

·3 min read
The Yukon Legislative Assembly, pictured on Nov. 8, 2021. MLAs across party lines supported the Yukon government's decision to declare a state of emergency over COVID-19, but many questioned the the timing and decision-making process behind the announcement at legislative assembly on Tuesday. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)
The Yukon Legislative Assembly, pictured on Nov. 8, 2021. MLAs across party lines supported the Yukon government's decision to declare a state of emergency over COVID-19, but many questioned the the timing and decision-making process behind the announcement at legislative assembly on Tuesday. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)

Although MLAs across party lines expressed support for the Yukon government's decision to declare a state of emergency over COVID-19 at the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, many questioned the timing.

The Yukon Government declared a state of emergency in an online release Monday night, announcing new health regulations aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, including a proof-of-vaccination requirement set to take effect on Saturday.

Some MLAs wanted to know what went into the decision-making process behind the announcement.

Yukon NDP leader Kate White questioned the way the announcement was made, wanting to know why the announcement came so late.

Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada
Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada

"Why was this important decision shared in an online press release at 7:42 p.m. on a Monday night? Why wasn't there a press conference held where media could ask questions?" asked White.

White also wanted to know what guidance the premier received to make the decision.

"You know, the government will say something and say this has been a recommendation of the [chief medical officer of health], but at this point in time, we're getting it through the filter of the government," said White.

White is calling on the Yukon government to make recommendations made by the chief medical officer of health (CMOH) public.

"With things that have amped back up, having briefings for the opposition is really important because we're able to ask questions and get information from the source itself," said White.

When asked if the government will consider making these briefings public, Premier Sandy Silver said the government closely follows the CMOH's recommendations.

"You know, again, looking at the actual recommendations that we put out, these are directly from the chief medical officer of health," said Silver. "So really, when you see the recommended documentation from the minister, those are the recommendations."

Opposition wants more details

Currie Dixon, leader of the Yukon Party, agrees with the state of emergency, but said he's concerned about a lack of detail in the plan.

"Businesses that could be affected by this have no information at all at this stage, and this is coming into effect on Saturday so that's really, really concerning," said Dixon

He said the government still needs to explain how the vaccine passport system will work.

Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada
Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada

Rapid testing in schools

Both Dixon and White pushed for COVID-19 rapid-testing in schools at the Legislative Assembly, saying that would help limit outbreaks in classrooms, and ensure that schools stay open.

Dixon said he's not sure why Yukon is lagging when it comes to rapid-tests.

"We're suggesting that we should be doing like Alberta and Ontario and other jurisdictions and getting those rapid testing capacity into the schools so that we can start getting a better sense of the outbreak in the schools," said Dixon.

The Yukon government has said that schools will stay open, despite the state of emergency declared this week. However, students now have to wear masks in their classrooms and at their desks.

The Yukon Government will be providing a COVID-19 update at 10:30 a.m. today. You can stream it live on our website or on the CBC Yukon Facebook page.

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