New health services minister Shirley Bond says while some may already be counting on a city cancer clinic, she intends to follow the process already in place to make a case to the government.
“I understand the passion and the concern (of Prince George residents), but people also want decisions based on a careful and thoughtful review of the facts,” Bond, MLA for Prince George-Mount Robson, said Thursday. “People understand the process has to be allowed to continue.”
Bond was sworn in as the new minister Wednesday following a mini-cabinet shuffle due to finance minister Gary Collins’s resignation. Bond had been Minister of Advanced Education.
Some have suggested a cancer clinic was a certainty, given Bond’s new appointment as health minister and the May provincial election, in which Bond is seeking re-election.
But she said the government is trying to de-politicize decision making.
“Obviously there is an election, but in addition (to being MLA) I am health minister for all of B.C.,” she said. “(The Northern Health Authority and the Provincial Health Services Authority) have been asked to demonstrate the case, and that process will take its course.”
Bond and Prince George North MLA Pat Bell presented a petition with 15,000 signatures calling for a clinic to then-minister Colin Hansen last week.
Bond said she expects a recommendation in the spring. The election is May 17.
As for suggestions she has struggled in advanced education, and faces a huge challenge in health, Bond agrees in can be a difficult ministry, but pointed out her accomplishments so far.
“I am going to do the best job I can. I did that in advanced education – I was leading the province through an enormous expansion of (post-secondary education) seats, and the recruitment of more doctors. It was probably the most ambitious agenda for that ministry in decades.”
She said she already has a reputation as a very hard worker, and will take that work ethic into her new post.
She added while she has left advanced education, as MLA – her “most important job” – she will continue to be involved with the College of New Caledonia and the University of Northern British Columbia.
And she said she was happy there was crossover between the ministries in the form of the Northern Medical Program, which is expected to keep doctors in the north after training them here.