New St. Paul's Hospital mentioned during Question Period

S. Robinson: Well, given that flu season comes around every single year, I would imagine that we would be better prepared for the busy season.

So I want to get back to Jean Donaldson, because this is really about people. To add insult to injury, Jean Donaldson noticed something very interesting while she was on that gurney in the lobby hallway, as she lay there looking at the walls because there's nothing else to do when you're in the hospital lobby. She noticed that the staff had placed her directly below a plaque on the wall, a plaque that actually had her name on it.

You see, Jean Donaldson loves her community and loves her community hospital, and she had a plaque on the wall with her name on it, commemorating her donations to Eagle Ridge Hospital. Here she was, staring at that plaque in the hallway of the lobby. She was embarrassed and humiliated about having to be, for 36 hours, in a gurney in the hallway.

I want to know: why does this government believe that it is okay for vulnerable seniors to languish in the lobby outside of the hospital gift shop while waiting for a hospital bed?

Hon. T. Lake: It is, in fact, the case that winter time is busy. We know that. The members opposite would seem to think that they, had they had the opportunity, would build capacity to 150 percent to accommodate the busiest days of the year and leave hospitals half-empty the rest of the year — good stewardship of taxpayers' money.

In fact, when they had the opportunity, they didn't build one single hospital. They talked about building a hospital in Abbotsford. It never got built until this government took power. New hospitals. New hospitals in Haida Gwaii. New hospitals in Penticton. New hospitals in Kamloops. A new concept plan for a hospital, Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. From community to community to community — not to mention the new St. Paul's and the redevelopment of Royal Columbian Hospital — the list is extensive. We'll continue to invest in top-quality health care facilities in the province of British Columbia.


N. Simons: This government's decided to close two long-term care facilities on the Sunshine Coast, only to replace them with one for-profit facility with a small increase in spaces. This is a bad decision for seniors affected, it's bad for the hundreds of employees who will be laid off or rehired at lower wages, and it's bad for our communities.

The Sunshine Coast has been saying loudly and clearly that seniors, elders and their caregivers deserve better. They don't want to see profits going to private companies because that's money that is not spent on care. Will the minister please explain to the family members and caregivers why seniors are paying the price for this government's failure?

Hon. C. Clark: First, let me acknowledge that caregivers in Powell River–Sunshine Coast and around the province who do so much. I mean, in long-term care in particular, the relationship that caregivers create with the patients is really admirable. In many cases, it's almost unbelievable, the amount of energy and love that people bring to that job. So on behalf of everybody in the House, I'd like to say thank you to them.

In this case, a new facility that will be state-of-the-art, with an additional — over and above — 20 new beds will be added, which will make it even easier to look after people who are elderly or need that long-term care in that part of the province. But that is in addition to the $101 million for the new centre for mental health and addiction at Riverview; the $417 million for a new patient care tower at Royal Inland Hospital, which the NDP said they wouldn't build; the $325 million in Penticton which, again, the NDP said they wouldn't build; and $606 million in Comox Valley and Campbell River hospitals.

The money, over $1 billion, will be going into the new state-of-the-art hospital at St. Paul's — which, again, the NDP said they would not build. The way to make sure that we are looking after patients in British Columbia is through items in this budget like $4.1 billion into the health care system. It's investments in making sure that we are building the infrastructure.

After a decade in the 1990s when not a single hospital was built, this government is making sure that we are looking after patients, investing in infrastructure, making sure British Columbians have the health care that they need. I know that the ironworkers who are here today will appreciate this, making sure we are putting British Columbians to work, when they build them.