NDP pledges SFU will get BC’s second medical school program

Program to partner with First Nations Health Authority to increase cultural sensitivity in healthcare training

PHOTO: Simon Fraser University Communications & Marketing / Flickr

Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

The BC NDP announced that upon re-election, they will begin the conversation with SFU to put British Columbia’s second medical school at the Surrey campus. The Peak interviewed NDP Burnaby-Lougheed Member of the Legislative Assembly, Honourable Katrina Chen, to discuss the pledge. According to Chen, Surrey’s quickly growing population and the location of the SFU campus makes an ideal time and location to develop a medical program. 

Assuming the NDP government is re-elected in the upcoming provincial election, a more in-depth discussion on funding, educators, and program development will need to take place, according to Chen. She noted that the discussion phase of the project would likely “take about four years of planning.” She hopes to have SFU welcome their first medical school class in the 2024/25 academic year. 

Chen stated that this is “great news for our community as a whole” as an additional medical school in the area will help to deflate wait times for medical attention by training more local doctors. According to Chen, excessive wait times in clinics were “a problem that was really left by the previous government [ . . . ] not being able to address wait time.” 

SFU’s potential medical school training would partner with the Fraser Valley Health Authority and the First Nations Health Authority to put training programs in place for culturally sensitive healthcare services. Chen noted that it is a priority for the NDP government to be aware of BC’s large and diverse population, and that the new “medical school will be able to connect with those needs” across a number of marginalized groups in Canadian communities.

“We need more locally trained doctors. BC [has been] lagging on that” despite the recent attempts to invest in healthcare, stated Chen. “We need to do more,” she added, expressing that during the pandemic, the importance of healthcare has been made clearer. 

The NDP has and will continue to “[work] really hard on the primary care network,” as stated by Chen. She said that the new medical school will be a unique partnership in the community across the coming years. 

There is more information on the NDP’s platform website detailing their priorities for the upcoming election.