New hospitals, scores of renovations and upgrades part of big NDP capital funding initiative

The NDP government has backed up its commitment to our public health care system with a recent series of significant capital funding announcements totaling more than $300 million. These capital funds will build new hospitals and long-term care facilities, and finance upgrades and renovations at existing facilities that will improve working conditions for HEU members.

The highlight of the flurry of announcements this week and last was a new 300-bed Fraser Valley hospital to replace the aging MSA General and a new regional cancer clinic on the same site. Total provincial government commitments for the two projects is close to $150 million.

Meanwhile, HEU members in two rural communities will see improved health care facilities in the future. In Nelson, health minister Corky Evans has made a long-term commitment for $45 million as government’s share of the costs to build a new integrated health campus to replace Kootenay Lake Hospital and the Mt. St. Francis long-term care facility.

And today, health care providers in Vanderhoof got some good news with the announcement of a new facility to finally replace the outdated Omineca Lodge. Total government commitment for this project is nearly $6 million. Facilities in the Vancouver/Richmond region also received more than $20 million for a variety of major capital project upgrades.

In a separate capital envelope, dozens of more immediate capital improvement projects totaling $90 million have also been announced at facilities right across the province. These include:

  • $200,000 to upgrade the core lab at Quesnel’s G.R. Baker Hospital;
  • $350,000 for new fire protection systems and parking security measures at Glengarry Hospital in the Victoria area;
  • $200,000 to upgrade the kitchen at Trillium Lodge in Parksville;
  • at Kelowna’s Cottonwoods extended care facility, $500,000 for a new air conditioning system plus $400,000 for a new overhead resident lift system;
  • more than $900,000 for Prince Rupert Regional Hospital to upgrade bathing facilities in extended care, a new air exchange system to improve air quality, and sterilizing system upgrades; and
  • $430,000 to renovate the cafeteria at Prince George Regional Hospital.
HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says the announcements show that Victoria has improved the capital funding process. “Obviously, this is an important priority for government, and many of these projects—both short and long-term—will improve conditions for our members and care services for British Columbians.” d

However, after reviewing details made available with the announcements, Allnutt expressed concern that only one ceiling lift at a long-term care facility had been approved. “Clearly government and health employers as a whole are having problems delivering solutions that would provide the vital capital equipment needed to reduce injury rates, make our workplaces safer and improve care for residents.”

He says the union will redouble its efforts at the bargaining table to win funding needed to implement overhead lifts at long-term care facilities.