As Premier David Eby takes action to build a medical school at SFU Surrey, Kevin Falcon should apologize for turning down the proposal when he was Health Minister, says BC NDP MLA Jinny Sims.
In 2008 and 2009, the Fraser Health Authority and SFU proposed opening a medical school in Surrey. The CEO of the Fraser Health Authority said, “there is a real shortage of doctors and a medical school in this jurisdiction would be very complementary to that objective.”
But instead of saying yes to the medical school, Falcon refused to act. He said: “I don’t have even the most elemental knowledge of what it would cost and what’s involved… I would need to see the business case.”
Over the following year and a half that Falcon served as Health Minister, he refused to move forward on the project. He also refused to act when he was in charge of the government budget as Finance Minister in 2011 and 2012.
“Kevin Falcon knew there was a doctor shortage but he refused to build a medical school in Surrey,” said Sims. “That decision has contributed massively to the doctor shortage we see in British Columbia today.”
In 2010, Falcon promised that “every British Columbian that wants access to a family doctor will have access to a family doctor by 2015.” Instead of following through, there were 135,000 more British Columbians without a family doctor by 2015.
“Kevin Falcon promised to fix the doctor shortage, but then he said no to a Surrey medical school and made the problem worse,” said Sims. “It’s time to apologize to the people of Surrey for refusing to act when he had the chance.”
The new SFU medical school is the latest in a series of actions by David Eby and the BC NDP to tackle the doctor shortage that Kevin Falcon left behind. The BC NDP government has reached an historic deal to attract and retain family doctors and is tripling the size of the program to license internationally trained doctors to practise in Canada.