Burnaby Hospital report confirms deteriorating condition of hospital, shows Liberals playing politics with public health

November 30, 2012

BURNABY – The controversial report released Friday by the Burnaby Hospital Community Consultation Committee shows the B.C. Liberal government has failed on two fronts: by allowing conditions at the hospital to deteriorate dramatically while taking no action, and by allowing politics to come before the health care needs of the community, say the New Democrats.

“The deteriorating condition of the hospital has been known to Burnaby residents for years,” said Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan. “People in Burnaby have been advocating for improvements to be made to the hospital, and a redevelopment plan was drafted in 2001. But the Liberals chose to sit idly by for over a decade and only now - in the months leading up to an election – do they want to have the appearance they’re going to act. It’s shameful and disingenuous.”

The consultation committee was announced in part as a response to health concerns at Burnaby Hospital that included repeated C. difficile outbreaks and resulted in department heads at the hospital publicly raising concerns, saying that as many as 473 infections and 84 deaths had been associated with C. difficile over two years.

But a series of leaked emails and documents revealed the committee was being manipulated behind-the-scenes by Liberal operatives with the goal of winning seats in multiple Burnaby ridings. The emails also highlighted that the report should shift the blame for the hospital’s conditions on to the Fraser Health Authority and intentionally away from the Liberal government.

“Many people put their faith in the consultation committee process and contributed to the report with the genuine motivation of improving health services in the lower mainland,” said New Democrat heath critic Mike Farnworth.

“By crassly putting politics ahead of the needs of the community, the Liberals have gone a long way to discredit themselves and the entire committee process. It’s been a complete waste of time and resources and we know the Liberals have no genuine commitment to follow through. We knew once we saw those emails that this report would be self-serving and attempt to divert blame away from the government.”

“It's quite unbelievable that the Liberal government took such a serious issue of concern to Burnaby residents and attempted to turn it in to a so-called ‘winning issue’ for them,” said Corrigan. “Patients, staff and the community deserve far better.”

Adrian Dix and B.C.'s New Democrats believe British Columbians deserve better, and the Liberal government isn't up to the challenge. It's time for a new government with new priorities, and New Democrats are ready to bring that change, one practical step at a time.