MLA Minute: BC’s system for cancer treatment goes south

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok on the province’s cancer treatment

  • May. 26, 2023 2:00 p.m.
Columbia River - Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok. (File Photo)

Columbia River - Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok. (File Photo)

Doug Clovechok, Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA


The B.C. NDP will start sending thousands of cancer patients to private American clinics for radiation therapy starting May 29. Clearly, the system in B.C. is broken.

Patients who are diverted to Bellingham, Washington will be fully compensated with B.C. tax dollars, for food, accommodation, and transportation expenses. Yet many rural B.C. residents are only eligible for what amounts to about a 25 per cent tax credit to offset those same expenses while seeking treatment here in our own province. My office recently received an email from a Panorama resident who shouldered $15,000 in travel and living expenses while receiving cancer treatment in Kelowna. He received great care from both his local physician and the team at the Kelowna Cancer Centre, but the extra burden of these out-of-pocket expenses added more stress.

Not only do we need cancer treatment available closer to home, we need a system that treats rural and urban counterparts equally. A new cancer treatment centre was promised to open in Kamloops in 2024, but it has all but since vaporized from the NDP’s 10-year cancer care plan.

Ideally, every British Columbian should have reasonable access to medical care and cancer treatment in our own province. While transferring patients to Washington may benefit some patients, what about people in the eastern side of the province? I have been advocating for the constituents of Columbia River-Revelstoke to access treatment closer to home, even if that means relying on our neighbours to the east. A letter to my office from Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed that Alberta is willing to work with B.C. to provide medical treatment to residents of eastern B.C. While quality care is available at arguably one of the best centres in Canada – the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Premier Eby has decided to divert patients south of the border to Bellingham, Washington. Do these plans include patients from the Kootenays? If not, why is the government not providing the same access to more accessible treatment in Calgary?

The NDP government is simply not meeting the needs of rural British Columbians. The NDP should be working to expedite the accreditation of foreign-trained doctors and nurses in our province, instead of sending B.C. patients to healthcare professionals in other countries. The people of Columbia River-Revelstoke deserve the resources and timely and equitable access to cancer treatment, and I will continue to take action in response to these concerns.

I want to hear from you about any concerns you have about this or any other issue. I read every email I receive. Please reach out to me at or call my office in Kimberley at (250) 432-2300 or Revelstoke at (250) 805-0323.

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