• Billy Beringia

Government gives itself "gold-star" rating

WHITEHORSE - Top doctor congratulates himself for COVID-19 response

Dr. Brendan Hanley photographed at a media event in Whitehorse on May 26 where he released his personal reward chart (Andy Howe/Canadian Press)


On Tuesday, the Yukon Government held a technical briefing on its models for public health restrictions in the territory. The briefing was presented by Dr. Brendan Hanley, the government's chief medical officer.


The models are supposed to predict what could have happened if the government had taken different actions in response to COVID-19.


Hanley started the event by sharing a copy of a reward chart he made for himself that displays high performance scores.


The reward chart and models are part of a newly-published Yukon Government report called "Why we're fantastic."


"Let me be really clear on one thing" Hanley said. "These models show that I have done a fantastic job."


"Let me be really clear. I have done a fantastic job." - Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon's Chief Medical Officer

Using slides and graphs, Hanley's models presented two scenarios. The first scenario showed how bad things would have been if the government had imposed no COVID-19 restrictions. The second scenario showed what would have happened if the territory did nothing for a couple of weeks after the first confirmed case arrived in Yukon.


"Ludicrous" and "irresponsible" scenarios


Both of these scenarios were slammed today by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam who responded publicly to the 'Why we're fantastic' report.


"These Government of Yukon scenarios are utterly ludicrous" Tam explained. "On what planet would a well-resourced authority make zero effort to respond to the threat of a deadly virus? Or kick back for a couple of weeks while that virus runs rampant through communities?


"It's highly irresponsible for politicians to use precious resources to create politically-motivated and misleading public health models. This is not the time for spin."


"It's highly irresponsible for politicians to use precious resources to create politically-motivated and misleading public health models." - Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer

No scrutiny, no problem


The 'Why we're fantastic' report was led by a team of people made up of Hanley, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and members of Silver's cabinet. After analyzing their own performances in response to COVID-19, it was unanimously agreed that they all have been doing brilliantly.


No fact-checking of the report could be carried out because Silver has avoided questions and accountability by refusing to safely reconvene the legislature.

An image from Yukon Government's Facebook page promoting the "Why we're fantastic" modelling report


When asked how the 'Why we're fantastic' report would help struggling businesses in Yukon, Hanley said that the government's primary concern was self-congratulations.


"It's important that people focus first on our greatness" Hanley said. "There will be plenty of time later to make real plans to help businesses."


Medical professional in charge of economy


Hanley is one of the Yukon's highest paid civil servants and answers directly to Premier Silver. In April, Silver gave him a license to decide who lives and who dies in the Yukon business landscape.


Scores of businesses in the territory are struggling to meet the criteria of government support packages, with many on the verge of closing down. Hanley's arbitrary and contradictory measures are making matters worse.


An example of his confusing guidance includes keeping mines open for multi-national corporations, but effectively shutting down local companies such as Whitehorse-based Midnight Sun Drilling Inc, a business that supports dozens of workers and their families.

In an interview with the Whitewash News, Silver was adamant that Hanley is the right person to control the territory's economy.


"He is a senior civil servant who doesn't have to hustle for work and talks to adults as if they are children" Silver explained. "Who better to make decisions about the private sector?"


"Just read the 'Why we're fantastic' report" Silver added "and you'll see for yourself that we're doing a truly amazing job."


Don't mention the war


Notably absent from the 'Why we're fantastic' report is the fact that Hanley endorsed a public gathering of hundreds of Arctic Winter Games volunteers in Downtown Whitehorse on March 16, by which time the world was in the grip of COVID-19.


Also omitted is the terrible advice of Yukon's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Catherine Elliott. On March 11, Elliott posted a statement to https://yukon.ca/en/coronavirus-updates saying "It is important to remember people who have no symptoms cannot pass COVID-19 on to others."


According to a report published in April by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Yukon's low number of COVID-19 cases is due to the fact that most Yukoners ignored their own government's advice by practicing social distancing and sanitization in the early stages of the pandemic


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