Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mills Memorial Hospital topic of Legislature discussion Wednesday

On Wednesday Skeena MLA Ellis Ross returned to his questions related to the
fate of the Mills Memorial Replacement proposal

Wednesday's Question Period at the Legislature found Skeena MLA Ellis Ross following up on some his thoughts from his Budget response of last week, putting his focus on concerns from his constituents when it comes to a replacement facility for the Mills Memorial Hospital.

As we noted on Saturday, Mr. Ross had taken note that the Mills Memorial Hospital proposal had not received a mention in Finance Minister Carole James budget document of September 11th.

Yesterday he expanded on those concerns, taking advantage of the Question Period to ask questions of the Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Mr.Speaker My constituents are worried and concerned that this government is ignoring rural B.C. This government has cancelled or opposed projects that will provide good jobs for families in the north. 

In Terrace, a replacement for Mills Memorial Hospital is badly needed. It was the previous government that promised to fund the hospital and delivered on the promise by including it in the previous budget. I don't see it in this government's budget. 

My question is to the Minister of Health through you Mr. Speaker: will this government commit to providing funding for the Mills Memorial replacement project so we can get shovels in the ground?

The Health Minister answered with a reminder for Mr. Ross and the Legislature of the process required for moving forward with such projects, noting that the concept plan has not as of yet been approved by the Ministry of Health, with a number of other stages to follow before it gets to budget consideration.

Shifting to a political theme, the Health Minister also observed that despite the photo op of the pre election campaign period, the previous Liberal government had not moved the project forward.

Then, stepping back from the political rhetoric, Mr. Dix also offered up his understanding of the importance of the replacement plan to the residents of Terrace and Kitimat.

BC Health Minister Adrian Dix faced
questions on the Mills Memorial Hospital
replacement plans on Wednesday
Now, It is before me right now, I agree with the member. I'd be happy to meet with the member on this question. 

The issue of Mills Memorial Hospital is important to me.  I know it's important to him, and it's especially important to people in Terrace and Kitimat and the whole region. 

I look forward to meeting with him, and I look forward to the day when finally a Minister of Health approves a concept plan so we can get on with Mills Memorial Hospital

As a rebuttal to those points, the Skeena MLA called for a quick pace to any review for the replacement plans and made note of the uncertainty surrounding the funding for the Terrace project, while offering an observation towards the governments recently announced funding for political parties.

That's why there's so much uncertainty. There's so much concern that rural B.C. is being ignored. 

In fact, this B.C. government includes in their budget projects, hospitals and upgrades all over the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island. You've got the north island hospitals, the Teck Acute Care Centre at Children's and Women's Hospital, the Joseph and Rosalie Segal family health centre. 

The list goes on, but these are all projects that were built under the previous B.C. Liberal government and included in their previous budgets. 

To the Minister of Health. The government seems fine with throwing $30 million to political parties. How about spending some of that money and replacing Mills Memorial Hospital as quick as possible?

You can review the full exchange from the Legislature archive here starting at the 1422 point of the day's archive.

The Video presentation of the afternoon session is available on the Legislature Video archive, see the Wednesday Question Period Video it too begins at the 1422

Some background on that proposed replacement facility can be found below:


March 28 -- Terrace hospital boosters busy rallying community support for trauma centre designation
March 3 -- Mills Memorial hospital announcement makes for a current in the North Coast election campaign stream
February 28 -- Provincial government offers nod of approval for Mills Memorial Hospital
January 17 -- Petition push continues for Terrace's Mills Memorial Hospital


December 7 -- On line petition launched to make case for Mills Memorial Hospital replacement for Terrace

The prospect for a replacement for the Terrace facility has been an ongoing element of the political discussion in Skeena for a number of years, in March of 2014 Robin Austin the then NDP MLA for the riding introduced the topic for the Legislature.

The fate of the Mills Memorial project is of some significant interest for residents of the Prince Rupert area, with some discussion noted in the community related to the fears that it could have an impact on services offered at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital.

Councillor Cunningham raises concerns over potential health service losses should the status of Terrace hospital change

Those themes and a renewed call for improved services for Prince Rupert are areas of note that North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice may wish to keep the Health Minister aware of as the Terrace plans are developed.

Further notes related to the Skeena MLA's work in the Legislature can be found on our archive page.

Background on Health related issues in the Northwest can be reviewed here.

A wider overview of the provincial political scene can be explored on our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

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