Premier Sandy Silver and Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee have issued the following statement:
“The start of this year has been extremely difficult and incredibly sad, as our territory continues to struggle with devastating loss of life due to opioids and mental health issues.
“Our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies go out to all of the families, friends and communities mourning and navigating these troubling times.
“We are deeply saddened and concerned as the number of people losing their lives to opioids, substance use and suicide persists at a tragic rate in the Yukon.
“This Saturday, Yukoners across the territory will be honouring those lives lost.
“Every day, many Yukoners struggle with substance dependency and mental health issues. They are loved ones, our family, friends and neighbours. This is a health emergency.
“Like all Yukoners, they deserve our respect and compassion and they urgently need our help and support.
“This February, as part of our commitment to Yukoners, in partnership with Yukon First Nations, we are planning phase one of a mental wellness summit that will focus efforts to address substance use, the opioid crisis and suicide prevention.
“We will work together with Yukon First Nations, community leaders and other experts to help coordinate our approach to meet the needs of all Yukon communities. Our work in Putting People First provided us with a number of recommendations to address these issues in our territory and through this summit, we will work together to find solutions to fulfill those recommendations.
“To all those Yukoners who have been impacted, we hear you and we stand with you. Today we met with leaders from across the territory to start taking action. We are committed to supporting Yukoners who are struggling with mental health and addictions and we recognize we need to do more.
“Together we will take meaningful steps to ensure no Yukoner is left behind.”