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BC NDP says promised medical school in Surrey moving forward, even as opening pushed back


The BC NDP is announcing an interim dean is now in place to lead the development of a new medical school at Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus. The announcement comes more than two years after the party campaigned on opening a new school.

Premier David Eby unveiled the new hire Monday, alongside several cabinet ministers as the province deals with a health-care crisis of burnt-out workers, a shortage of family doctors, and long waits at emergency departments.

“That’s why are taking action to train, recruit and retain family doctors now – and taking these steps with Simon Fraser University to train the health workforce we’ll need in the future," said Eby.

The province is announcing nearly $5 million to help with the preparatory work before the school can take students. That includes hiring staff, developing curricula, and accreditation.

The work will be led by interim dean, Dr. Roger Strasser. A government news release says he was the founding dean and CEO of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and is a recognized leader in the development of health professional education.

For months, the opposition BC Liberals have slammed the government for "dragging its feet" on the new medical school - claiming much more work could've been done by now.

Opposition leader Kevin Falcon told reporters he wished Eby spent more time in his office, "so that we can get some real results instead of spending all the time and effort doing nothing but making announcements."

The BC NDP promised a second medical school for British Columbia during the 2020 provincial election, and had subsequently said it would open in 2023-24. The government now says the new school will start taking students in 2026 with the first graduating class expected eight years from now.

Asked about the delay, Eby pointed to the "considerable logistics" involved with setting up a school.

"This medical school, is not going to solve the urgent issues with the public health-care system," Eby added. "It's a long term investment."

The premier said other work, including measures to speed up credentialing of internaltionally edicated doctors and changing how family physicians are paid, is part of the immediate relief.

The BC Greens say the province also needs to focus on the large number of kids dealing with respiratory viruses and spending hours waiting in emergency rooms.

Party leader Sonia Furstenau called on the government to reveal how many kids are home sick from school with viruses, and to provide a better picture of how busy hospitals are.

"We need to see a clear and direct response from this government on what is happening in hospitals," Furstenau added. Top Stories

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