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Dix open-minded on Burnaby Hospital future

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix is open to suggestions on what should be done with Burnaby Hospital should his party form government after the May provincial election.

The Opposition leader answered reporters' questions while he was in Burnaby last week as part of a tour of high tech companies in the Lower Mainland.

When asked his position on a Burnaby city hall proposal to build a new Burnaby Hospital on the site of the former Willingdon youth detention centre site at Willingdon and Canada Way, Dix said, "I think we have to look at it, I think we have to be open-minded about these things."

However, he stressed that there are "significant health capital challenges" in the region, not the least of which is Royal Columbian and Burnaby hospitals.

"It's been abundantly clear over time the government has neglected both those hospitals. Really, Royal Columbian ought to have already been started a decade ago. Instead all they did was close St. Mary's Hospital and little else."

Dix said Fraser Health has the lowest level of acute care beds per population of any health authority in Canada and its health care workers are forced to do more with less.

The problem started when the population in Fraser Health grew between 2001 and 2005, unlike in the other health regions, while at the same time the government cut acute care beds.

"We're playing catch-up in a very serious way now," he said.

If if forms the next government, the New Democrats "absolutely" would be willing to look at what city hall is suggesting.

"We're open-minded about it but there's a big health care deficit caused by 10 years of Liberal neglect and we have to try and address these problems one step at a time ... What the best solution is for the taxpayer and for patients, still has to be worked out."

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