Statement from Premier Pillai and Minister McPhee on progress on downtown Whitehorse community safety

Premier Ranj Pillai and Minister of Health and Social Services and Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee issued the following statement:

“While the holiday season holds a different meaning for everyone, it consistently underscores the importance of kindness, compassion and care for our family, friends, neighbours and community members. Together with partners, our government remains committed to building a strong, sustainable path forward – one guided by the diverse thoughts and perspectives of all Yukoners.

“We want to thank members of the community who participated in the Tuesday, November 21, 2023, Community Conversation on Downtown Safety at the MacBride Museum. We are grateful for the conversations, the questions and the proposed solutions that were shared, and we appreciate everyone contributing to finding positive solutions that work for our community.

“There were many important takeaways from the meeting. Among the points raised were:

  • a call for increased collaboration between organizations engaged in work to create a safer downtown;
  • an identified opportunity for more focused and ongoing conversations and engagement with business owners and residents;
  • an interest in seeing more positive and productive investments in youth opportunities and infrastructure in the downtown area;
  • recognition of the ongoing need for more work on maintaining clean streets, ensuring public safety, and establishing avenues for reporting concerns without necessarily involving the police;
  • a shared responsibility to create a thriving, inclusive and sustainable downtown community;
  • a recognition of the work done by the RCMP and the need for continued resources for policing in the downtown area;
  • a desire to create a sense of community and vibrancy in the downtown area;
  • the need for a sobering centre to support the efforts of 405 Alexander; and
  • a need for an improved understanding of the term “harm reduction”.

“This list is not extensive — many other constructive ideas were also discussed. Yukon government departments will continue working with partner organizations and other governments to explore and implement the calls we heard.

“At the Community Conversation, there was a request for a defined understanding of the term ‘harm reduction’. Harm reduction is an approach that focuses on using the best available evidence to drive positive change and meet people where they are at, without judgment or discrimination. The goal is to reduce harm to individuals and communities. As a government, we use a harm reduction approach that respects where people are in their journey and helps keep people safe by not requiring them to meet a pre-defined threshold to access life-saving services. A strong body of evidence shows that harm reduction interventions have the best outcomes for individuals and communities.

“The 2023 — 24 Supplementary Estimates passed the Yukon Legislative Assembly on November 23, 2023. The Supplementary Estimates contain an additional $39 million for social services, community and primary care services, continuing care, Yukon Hospital services and community justice and public safety initiatives. These funds contribute to ongoing work to ensure downtown residents, local businesses and Yukoners who seek supportive services have access to the health and safety support they need.

“Our government continues to make progress on our efforts to decentralize support services across Whitehorse, improve downtown safety and promote health and wellness. On behalf of the Government of Yukon, we thank everyone who joined the Community Conversation and continues to contribute to this important dialogue.”

Media contact 

Renée Francoeur 
Cabinet Communications 

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