Interior Health is forwarding Cariboo Memorial Hospital’s redevelopment plan to the Ministry of Health.
“They said that they would present it as a capital request,” said John Massier, Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District chair, “We’ve had their verbal promise that it’s going to be put on the list.”
A meeting between IH and the Ministry of Health is slated for Nov. 15. Massier is hopeful the plan will be put on the list then and the region can begin moving forward to update the hospital.
“It was explained to us that IH has a list with around 22 major capital items across the region, items of $1.5 million and greater. Our first request would be around the $600,000 range, to do the next step, the functional plan.”
Peter Du Toit, area director of acute care Thompson Cariboo, confirmed the CMH redevelopment plan is definitely on the list, but said it will not necessarily be discussed at the Nov. 15 meeting. It is not a capital planning meetings, but the start of meetings.
“It’s not a single process, but a series of meetings where we are taking the next steps in the capital planning process and that includes the submission of the list of priorities to the Ministry of Health,” Du Toit said. “We’ve had some very good discussions with the CCRHD chair recently and really do look forward to working with him in the future. We know this is a very important development for the residents of the Cariboo, the redevelopment of Cariboo Memorial Hospital and it’s also important for Interior Health.”
Massier said once the list is sent to the Ministry of Health, with rankings that are not made public, it’s out of the hands of IH and in the hands of the ministry who receives capital requests from all of the province’s health authorities.
“The ministry then makes the decisions on how projects move forward. It’s out of the hands of Interior Health. I think that’s where local, political pressure can come. Once the CMH plan is on the list then we as local politicians and users of the service to lobby our MLAs and our Minister of Health to make sure this functional plan rises up through that list and actually gets funded in the next fiscal year so they can get on with this next stage of planning,” Massier said.
As far as priorities go, Massier said all of the regional hospital board chairs in Interior Health were given the list of capital plans.
“That’s a list of $880 million worth of projects. I got it out of them that the service plan is basically projects that have been funded and probably 80 per cent of its already completed. There’s probably $100 million or more of the Kelowna expansion that’s still in progress and not completed yet, so that money’s already been approved and in the works, but it’s not reflected in Interior Health’s budget yet. It will come into their capital budget in the years that it gets built.”
On the next “wish list” of the 22 projects that totals about $1 billion, there is $700 million ahead of the Cariboo Memorial Hospital project, Massier added.
“Unless the order of that list changes, we’re still going to be waiting some time, but even on that list, it’s prioritized by Interior Health, but I can tell you there are priorities that were listed behind us that have been announced and moved forward. It doesn’t necessarily go in order down the list the way Interior Health would like it to go. It’s up the ministry once the list is submitted.”
DuToit agreed with Massier’s comments, adding the steps do take some time.
“But I can assure you when the CMH redevelopment does happen it will be a significant capital investment into the region and it’s exciting,” Du Toit said.