John Horgan talks to media in Surrey on Wednesday morning (Sept. 23). (Photo: Malin Jordan)

BC V0tes 2020

Horgan lambastes Liberal health record in Surrey

BCNDP leader attacks Andrew Wilkinson’s role in selling a potential hospital site here at a discount

BC NDP Leader John Horgan was in Surrey on Wednesday morning to attack BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson’s role in selling a potential hospital site here at a discount.

Horgan says the Liberals “sold the silverware” to balance their budget, selling what was a proposed Panorama hospital site at 5750 Panorama Drive for $3 million below its assessed value, to a former Liberal party donor. He held his presser not far from where the hospital had been proposed to be built.

Horgan also noted the Liberals doubled MSP premiums, then the NDP eliminated them.

“They raised them year after year after year,” he said.

READ ALSO: Surrey MLA decries ‘fire sale’ of land

READ ALSO: Surrey getting a new hospital, in Cloverdale

Jinny Sims, incumbent NDP candidate for Surrey-Panorama, told reporters “Andrew Wilkinson literally sold us out” and “if given the opportunity, he would do it again.”

“Even now, he refuses to commit to the project. That’s a risk we cannot afford to take,” she said. “Especially right now, when health care is so critical.

“John Horgan is different. We can trust him,” she said. “When he says he will build a second hospital in Surrey, we know he will get the job done.”

The NDP charges that Wilkinson delayed the construction of a Surrey hospital by selling off a site acquired by an NDP government in the 1990s as a potential location for a new hospital.

Prior to the 2005 provincial election, then-Liberal premier Gordon Campbell staged a presser there, vowing to fast track a new hospital. But it wasn’t built. In 2014, the NDP said, Wilkinson as citizens’ services minister “abandoned the promise permanently” by selling the land to developer Fairborne Lands at a $3 million discount, selling for $20.5 million despite despite being appraised at $23.5 million.

Stephanie Cadieux, incumbent Liberal MLA for Surrey South, replied in a tweet, “Let’s set the record straight. Under the BC Liberals, Surrey Memorial Hospital received a $512 million expansion and the $237-million Jim Pattison Outpatient Clinic was built.”

Last December Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix staged a presser at the museum in Cloverdale at the Museum to announce that a “brand new hospital” will be built near the Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“I think we’ll be through the business plan about this time next year in 2020 and then we’ll be going to tender,” Horgan said at the time, adding that the first shovels could break ground by the end of 2021.

On Wednesday he told the Now-Leader its construction is “a commitment that’s carved in stone” and the business plan will be finalized this fall.

“The money is in the budget, the land has been assembled,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about it. Fraser Health has been working very, very hard to finalize the details.”

Horgan told the Now-Leader “Our dollars are on the table. Now it’s about making sure that we manage the development appropriately. We don’t want to rush this, we want to make sure we get it right. The hospital is being built.”

To this, Cadieux tweeted that “There are ZERO dollars in the NDP budget for a new hospital in Cloverdale. And let’s remember they promised a new Abbotsford Hospital for 10 years but didn’t build it. This is history repeating itself.”

The provincial election will be on Saturday, Oct. 24.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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