BC NDP, Liberals trade byelection barbs over new Surrey hospital

Click to play video: 'Big announcement for Surrey and B.C. public health care' Big announcement for Surrey and B.C. public health care
Health Minister Adrian Dix announces a second hospital for Surrey, slated to be completed by 2027. As Andrea Macpherson and Keith Baldrey report, this new project is a reflection of the city's changing demographics – Jul 4, 2022

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.

Read more: Surrey moves closer to a new hospital and BC Cancer Centre

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.

Click to play video: 'Rural communities fed up with healthcare shortages' Rural communities fed up with healthcare shortages
Rural communities fed up with healthcare shortages – Aug 6, 2022

And he accused the BC Liberals of taking steps during their last term in power to derail the project.

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“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.”

Read more: The BC Liberals sold gobs of land for $493M. Three years later, they were worth $860M

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.”

Read more: B.C. senior with broken hip waits 10 hours for ambulance

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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.

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