A missing scanner and another year of delay have Kamloops opposition MLAs sounding the alarm about a long-promised cancer center at Royal Inland Hospital.

BC Health Minister Adrian Dix was at RIH on Thursday to announce that the business plan for the five-storey, $359 million cancer center had been approved and the project was moving into the procurement phase. Opening is scheduled for 2025, with opening scheduled for 2028.

Dix's announcement included information conflicting with what he previously said — that the building would open in 2027 and include a PET-CT scanner.

“I think like the people who live in this region, the 150,000 residents of the Kamloops and Thompson valleys, we will believe it when we actually see it,” Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone told Castanet Kamloops following the announcement at RIH.

Stone highlighted previous government delays, noting that former NDP premier John Horgan promised in the 2020 campaign that he would build the cancer center by 2024.

“They drew up the entire timeline and then it was 2027,” Stone said. “Until the most recent legislative session, we were told that in 2027 this facility would open – repeatedly. Today, the minister says 2028, as if 2028 was the date they were aiming for from the beginning.”

Asked why the project was postponed a year, Dix said that the assessment of the challenges of the construction market was taken into account, but that he considers that the project is still on the right track.

No scanner despite reviews

Dix told reporters during Thursday's announcement that there are “not yet” any PET-CT scanners in the plans for the Kamloops cancer center, adding that the government is looking at rolling out this technology across the province.

PET-CT scanners are used in cancer detection.

Stone said the minister specifically said in the Legislature that downtown Kamloops would have such a scanner.

“This is the latest diagnostic tool used to treat cancer in the world today,” Stone said. “There’s one going to the Kelowna cancer center, which is great, [and] there is one in Vancouver. Why they wouldn’t incorporate one into this project when it officially opens is beyond us.”

Stone told reporters that if the BC United Party is elected in this fall's provincial election, he will commit to building the cancer center with a PET-CT scanner included.

“Yes, we made it very clear that a PET scanner would definitely be incorporated into this project,” Stone said.

During a question period in November 2023, Dix said they would add PET-CT scanners in other communities as they add new cancer centers in Kamloops, Nanaimo, Burnaby and Surrey.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar said he and Stone plan to keep the minister's word about a PET-CT scanner in Kamloops.

Budget to be analyzed

Milobar also raised concerns about the timing of the announcement, saying that just having the business plan approved so far and the construction schedule means there will be “no substantive dollars” in this year's provincial budget and fiscal plan, which ends on March 1. April of next year. year.

“Which means this government is saying 'Just trust us, we will have the money in the budget for you after the next election and then we will hit the ground running on this project',” he said.

“If that’s the case, Kamloops has heard this government’s playbook before.”

Milobar said he plans to raise the issue later this month during budget discussions.

More optimistic local authorities

Thompson Regional Hospital District President Mike O'Reilly told Castanet Kamloops that Thursday's announcement changes nothing when it comes to the public Cancer Won't Wait campaign his board has launched to pressure the province to follow through on front with the promised cancer center.

“It’s not something we can just set aside and let things happen, we need to be grounded,” O’Reilly said.

O'Reilly also said, however, that TRHD feels it is in the “final stretch” but will not give up on advocating for this center to arrive on time and open in 2028.”

Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson told Castanet the announcement is “amazing.”

“They stepped up and did what they said they were going to do, it seems, so I think it’s great,” he said.

Hamer-Jackson said he's not worried about the project being delayed again, adding that while he was disappointed that Horgan didn't follow through on his promise, he trusts Dix's word.

“No, I’m not worried,” he said. “I think there's a team there that's doing a really good job and I think they're going to make it – I'm totally sure of that.”

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