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Health minister in Kamloops on May 25 for health-care announcement

It is believed Adrian Dix will be speaking on his government’s cancer care centre election campaign promise
RIH tower Adrian Dix
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix was in Kamloops on March 24, 2022, to mark the completion of the construction of the Phil and Jennie Gaglardi Tower addition to Royal Inland Hospital. He will be back at the facility on May 25, 2023, to make a health care-related announcement.

Amid various crises in the health-care system, including the recent decision to send B.C. cancer patients to Washington state for radiation therapy, Health Minister Adrian Dix is coming to Kamloops to make an announcement about health-care services.

What Dix will be speaking about has not been detailed, though he did tell KTW last week he would be in Kamloops soon to discuss plans for an upgraded cancer care centre in the city.

While there is a cancer care centre at Royal Inland Hospital — including diagnostics and chemotherapy — it lacks radiation treatment, resulting in patients in the Kamloops area being forced to travel to Kelowna for that treatment.

During the 2020 provincial election campaign, Premier John Horgan stopped in Kamloops and promised that a full cancer care centre, including radiation treatment, would be in place in the city within his government’s four-year mandate, if his New Democrats won the election. The NDP won the election, but the government now says a full cancer care centre in Kamloops is actually part of a 10-year cancer care plan.

In the 1991 provincial election campaign, then-NDP leader Mike Harcourt promised Kamloops a cancer centre. Upon forming government, the NDP administration decided to put the cancer clinic in Kelowna.

During the BC Liberals’ 16-year reign from 2001 to 2017, the cancer care centre in Kamloops was not upgraded to include radiation therapy.

In January, Dianne Kostachuk, Interior Health's director of business operations, presented the Thompson Regional Hospital District board with its annual list of funding requests, which included a $600,000 budget item to draft a cancer services business plan at RIH. The hospital district board was asked to contribute $240,000 to create the plan.

In March, the hospital board was told that $240,000 request was being rescinded because the cancer services business plan was not yet approved by the powers-that-be.

On Feb. 24, the provincial government’s announcement of its 10-year cancer care action plan did not include any imminent goal of honouring a Kamloops promise.

While the action plan included "expanding access to radiation therapy” as part of the document’s three-year, $270-million phase and adding cancer care centres in B.C., there was no mention specifically of Kamloops.

At the time, KTW contacted the Ministry of Health to ask if radiation treatment will be added to the cancer care centre at RIH.

“A new cancer centre for Kamloops is currently in the concept planning phase,” a ministry spokesperson responded. “The work is underway and we look forward to sharing more details around timelines and services as the work progresses. We are committed to continuing to improve health care for people in Kamloops, including providing more cancer care services closer to home.”