The Chief and Council of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation have written a tense letter to the owners and managers of Yellow Cabs in Whitehorse regarding the treatment of one of their citizens.
At issue is non-insured health benefit (NIHB) vouchers. The letter states the person arrived in Whitehorse on an Air North night flight on Wednesday at 10:30 PM.
The person had an NIHB voucher but was refused transportation by three different cab drivers, even though the passenger needed urgent transportation to the Whitehorse Hospital as his brother was dying.
Kwanlin Dün Chief Doris Bill, who happened to be at the airport when the situation unfolded, said she ultimately stepped in to help the person when they were repeatedly refused cab service.
"He was in a really difficult situation. His brother may have passed in the interim and these taxi companies were refusing to take him because he had an NIHB voucher. That's what he told me. So I said, ""look, I have some people to drop off, so I'll take you to the hospital myself"".
After experiencing the incident, Chief Doris Bill says cab companies need to be more accommodating when accepting NIHB vouchers as she says these passengers are often in difficult predicaments.
"I want to ask the taxi companies to be a bit more accommodating and to be more sensitive to some of these issues. When people come to them with vouchers, that's equivalent to money. You don't get it right away, but you do eventually. Some of the people who have these vouchers don't have a lot of money."
While Chief Bill says she's currently in talks with the Council of Yukon First Nations and NIHB representatives regarding next steps, she says there are other alternatives for First Nations transport services already in other cities that Whitehorse could follow.
"I always like to look at Calgary. I was there on a medical one time. Calgary has an NIHB shuttle of some sorts and operates out of a reservation there. A First Nations driver picked me up at the airport, took me to my appointment and took me back to my hotel. It was all very friendly...I have to say it was probably one of the best services I had."
This story will being followed-up by CHON-FM as it develops.