Local MPs Donnelly & Julian Challenge Harper to Tour Royal Columbian Hopsital Before Cutting Federal Health Transfers

NEW WESTMINSTER – Today, while premiers gathered in Victoria to discuss federal cuts to the health transfer, local New Democrat MPs Fin Donnelly (New Westminster – Coquitlam & Port Moody) and Peter Julian (Burnaby – New Westminster) issued a challenge to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to tour Royal Columbian Hospital.

Royal Columbian made national headlines last March when overflow emergency room patients were treated in the hospital’s Tim Hortons. Earlier this month, the hospital again made news when they were forced to service emergency patients in the lobby.

“The situation at Royal Columbian has now gone beyond hallway healthcare; obviously they’ve run out of hallways,” said Donnelly. “I challenge the Prime Minister and federal Health Minister to visit Royal Columbian and see the situation first hand.”

Last month the MPs joined BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix and local MLAs for a tour of the crowded hospital. Donnelly and Julian renewed their calls today for the Conservative government to bring relief to the situation at Royal Columbian by working with the province to hire more doctors, nurses and front line workers, reduce wait times and green light the hospital’s new tower expansion project.

“Since the closure of St. Mary’s hospital in New Westminster, Royal Columbian has taken on the overflow,” said Julian. “We need real leadership from the federal government to address the challenges at Royal Columbian”.

In December the Harper Conservatives announced that they would start tying health transfers to economic growth and inflation in 2016-17 and introduced a per capita funding formula that has been widely criticized in BC which has a disproportionally high number of seniors who incur higher medical costs.

Last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer warned the Conservative government’s reduction in the rate of growth to health transfers would threaten the sustainability of medicare and force provinces to cut vital services.