The BC NDP and BC Liberals traded barbs Thursday over a planned new hospital in Cloverdale as the South Surrey byelection heats up.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix appeared with NDP candidate Pauline Greaves to tout the new $1.72-billion facility, slated for 180 Street next to Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Last month, the NDP government unveiled details about the hospital, which will include 168 beds, a 55-space emergency room and a cancer centre.
Dix called the facility critical to the rapidly growing city — on track to be B.C.’s largest by the middle of the next decade.
And he accused the BC Liberals of taking steps during their last term in power to derail the project.
“The NDP in a previous iteration bought the land. The Liberal Party promised a hospital,” Dix said.
“(BC Liberal Leader) Kevin Falcon was an MLA here, he promised a hospital in the 2005 election, and he broke his word. And he didn’t just break his word, he sold the land.”
The parcel of land proposed for a previous iteration of the hospital was among many the former BC Liberal government sold for just under $500 million between 2013 and 2015.
The Liberals, however, are accusing the NDP of failing on their own hospital pledge by building what they describe as a “glorified urgent care centre.”
“The NDP promised Surrey voters a full-service hospital, but all they’re getting is a glorified urgent care centre with just 168 beds, no ICU, and no maternity ward in Cloverdale,” Falcon said in a statement Thrusday.
“We’re committed to getting things done in Surrey, and residents can expect a BC Liberal government to deliver a full-service hospital to meet the vital needs of their community, not just the NDP’s glorified clinic.”
Health care is shaping up to be a key issue in the byelection, as the province grapples with a family doctor shortage, emergency room closures in small and rural communities and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week BC Liberal South Surrey candidate Elenore Sturko and Green Party candidate Simran Sarai slammed the government over long ambulance wait times, after a Surrey senior was left waiting 10 hours for an ambulance with a broken hip.
Construction of the new Surrey hospital is slated to begin next summer, with a completion target of 2027.
South Surrey voters go to the polls on Sept. 10.