Wait a minute! Stop the presses! How could we miss this?
On Sept. 10, without fanfare or media blitz, the provincial government (and most importantly Treasury Board) quietly approved the business plan for the new Cowichan District Hospital and made a capital funding commitment of $887 million to complete the new CDH by 2026. Check out reference to the new CDH on pages 30 and 31 here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/government-finances/quarterly-reports/2020-21-q1-report.pdf
Before we congratulate everyone who has worked so hard to make this project a reality, we must take a moment to understand the potential impacts of the current provincial election. Typically, once Treasury Board has formally committed multi-year funding to a major capital project it is rarely stopped, even if there is a change in political leadership. However, these are truly unique times and the provincial election results may indeed have an impact on the CDH funding. A new government may choose to delay the CDH or to redeploy the funding to other capital projects. To ensure the CDH funding remains committed to the CDH project, we need to extract specific commitments from party leaders and the local candidates during the campaign.
What are the local candidates and their parties saying about the new CDH? While touring with local NDP candidate Rob Douglas, John Horgan, the NDP leader, said that if elected, the new CDH project “…is going to be breaking ground next year.” Sonia Furstenau, local candidate and leader of the Green Party of BC, criticized Horgan for making that comment during the election but thus far has offered no specifics on the hospital project start date if she is elected. No word yet on this from the other candidates.
Cowichan voters who want the new hospital should get active on this issue now and ask their candidates: “Will your party make a firm commitment to fund the construction of the new CDH project beginning in 2021?”.