B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan was in Kamloops on Saturday (Oct. 17) to further discuss his party's platform and its 10-year cancer care plan for the province, including a cancer care centre in Kamloops.
"I know how important it is to get care close to home," Horgan told KTW, recalling his own cancer treatment in Victoria in 2008. "Radiation, chemotherapy, genomic work — that can happen in Kamloops," he said.
The NDP first announced its plans for cancer care centres in the province on Oct. 7 — one day after the B.C. Liberals made a similar promise to invest $5 million in funding for cancer care in Kamloops if the party were to win a mandate.
Kamloops' cancer care centre is one component of the NDP's 10-year cancer care plan, amounting to $450 million in spending. Horgan invited the media to Thompson Rivers University on Saturday to share more details of his party's plan.
The plan is something Kamloops Coun. Dale Bass was happy to see, having experienced the hardships of a daily commute to Kelowna for her own care.
"You get up at 6 a.m., have breakfast, drive to the van that is run by the Freemasons ... stop in Vernon, for the people with prostate cancer who need a bathroom break, get there around 9:00 or 9:30, and then sit there for three hours for 10 minutes of treatment," she said.
"Then you get back in the van, get back to Kamloops around 3:00 or 3:30, go home, collapse and repeat the next day."
Part of Bass' journey isn't even possible now, with the Freemasons suspending their Cancer Car program due to the pandemic, making the journey even more difficult.
"What that does to you is take you from your family, and you need them. You need them when you're fighting cancer," she said.
Bass said she still struggles with fatigue, related to the last of her ongoing treatment, and felt relieved to see both parties talking about a cancer care centre in Kamloops
Horgan said the care centre will not be limited to treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, but will also include diagnostics, noting the importance of catching cancers early.
As for the timeline, Horgan promised to open the care centre within his mandate, should his New Democrats form government.
"The services will be prepared and delivered within the mandate of the next government — absolutely," he told media on a balcony of TRU's International Building.
It's not the first time Kamloops has been promised a cancer care centre. The NDP government of the day made a similar promise in the early 1990s only to see that centre open in Kelowna.
"I can't speak for 30 years ago," Horgan said. "I can speak for right now."
To make his point, Horgan pointed to projects such as the city's urgent primary care centre and ongoing construction of the patient-care tower at Kamloops' Royal Inland Hospital. The tower was a B.C. Liberal promise, but built under Horgan's first mandate beginning in 2017.
"I believe that's demonstrating that we're focused on health care absolutely every day," he said.