State of Surrey health-care facilities ‘unacceptable,’ the board of trade says – BC

The Surrey Board of Trade (SBoT) is calling on the provincial government to step up funding for healthcare in what will soon be British Columbia’s largest city.

The organization released a report Thursday warning that health-care facilities for the province’s fastest growing community are inadequate for its current and future needs.

“This is unacceptable for our workforce and residents,” board of trade president and CEO Anita Huberman said.

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“Residents cannot be treated within our city’s borders for the three leading causes of death, which are heart attack, stroke and trauma … we have the greatest number of children, babies that are born in British Columbia, and we do no have specialty pediatric services in our city. They have to be treated north of our bridge.”

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Surrey has a population of 568,000 people as of the 2021 census, and according to Huberman is adding between 1,200 and 1,400 more residents per month.

Click to play video: 'Big announcement for Surrey and BC public health care'

Big announcement for Surrey and BC public health care

She said the city is also the largest destination for newcomers to Canada, meaning it will only grow more quickly under federal plans to welcome 500,000 new immigrants annually.

The provincial government is in the early stages of building a new 168-bed hospital with a 55-bed emergency room and cancer center at 5500 180 Street in Cloverdale.

Huberman said the board of trade is concerned the new facility and existing Surrey Memorial Hospital will be under-resourced for the future.

BC Health Minister Adrian Dix defended the province’s health initiatives in Surrey, blaming the current situation on the former BC Liberal government.

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“The leader of the opposition, the former minister of health, essentially sold off the land for a second Surrey hospital, there should be a second Surrey hospital today, and there isn’t,” Dix said.

“We took action immediately.”

Dix said the province has taken other steps to boost healthcare in the city, including adding three new MRI machines in the Fraser Health region and opening two new urgent and primary care centers in Surrey.

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“We’ve significantly improved healthcare in Surrey and we’re not stopping now,” he said.

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.

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BC Liberal Opposition leader Kevin Falcon fired back, telling Global News his former government had poured half a billion dollars into upgrades at Surrey Memorial Hospital, and argued the older hospital site was scrapped because it was not easily accessible.

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He accused the NDP of dragging his heels at a new hospital, noting the party is now in its second term and has been in power for six years.

The NDP’s new hospital will both be too small and will be similarly poorly accessible, he added, arguing the province should build a larger facility along the Fraser Highway to align with the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain.

“You could build a 500-bed hospital that would actually start to look after the needs of Surrey residents, and more importantly, provide easy access so you can get the doctors, the nurses, the care aids to easily access the hospital.

“The second hospital they’re promising is in the wrong location, it only includes 126 beds, and it wouldn’t even include a maternity ward for the fastest growing community in the province. This is just crazy. Frankly, the board of trade is right. Surrey is severely understaffed and under-serviced in terms of hospitals and health care.”

Surrey’s new hospital is slated for completion in 2027.

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The provincial government is set to unveil its next provincial budget on Tuesday.

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