Local MPs issue challenge to Stephen Harper

New Westminster News Leader, 16 January 2012 By Staff Writer

New Westminster MPs Peter Julian and Fin Donnelly have challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to tour Royal Columbian Hospital before making changes to the transfer of health funds to the provinces.

In December, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty proposed tying funding increases to economic growth including inflation starting in 2017. That rate is expected to be about four per cent compared to the current annual rate of six per cent.

The NDP MPs say the formula would hurt B.C. because it has higher medical costs because of a disproportionally high number of seniors and that would mean less money for RCH which already has an emergency room that frequently overflows.

"The situation at Royal Columbian has now gone beyond hallway healthcare; obviously they've run out of hallways," said Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody) in a press release. "I challenge [Harper and Aglukkaq] to visit Royal Columbian and see the situation first hand."

Julian added, "We need real leadership form the federal government to address the challenges at Royal Columbian."