The provincial government is being accused of consistently ignoring overcrowding at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
NDP leader Adrian Dix stopped at VJH Monday to support the Purple Ribbon campaign, which is demanding more acute care beds.
“This community raised the issue in 2006. They raised it again in 2007, 2008 the same thing, 2009. It’s time for action,” he said.
“The issues haven’t been addressed for a long time because the Liberals take the Okanagan for granted. This will be one of the ridings that decides the election.”
Dix claims the government’s priorities are wrong.
“How does it make sense to cut taxes for large corporations but you can’t fund basic services?” he said.
“What have they been doing? They have been in government for 10 years.”
Dix is demanding that funds be directed towards opening up the two shelled-in floors in the new patient care tower that are designated for future beds.
“If every day, you’re at 161 or 162 (patients) in a hospital of 148, that’s not safe,” he said, adding that would be one of his first steps if he were to become premier.
“This isn’t just an answer of acute care. Government has failed in the area of community care.”
Dix says B.C. has the worst track record for health care spending in Canada.
“We spend 24 per cent less than Alberta and the consequences are being felt.”
Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, defends the government’s actions and he insists the two floors will be constructed although there isn’t a set timeline.
“There have been a lot of discussions. We’re trying to figure out how we will pay for it,” he said.
It could cost about $10 million to develop each of the shelled-in floors for use by patients, and then $10 million each annually to operate the floors.
Foster took aim at Dix’s comments.
“It’s easy to make promises when you’re not the person writing the cheque,” said Foster, adding that the government faces financial pressures across B.C.
“Where does he plan to come up with the money? When the day comes that we can do it, we’ll do it.”