Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce sounded incredulous in the House of Assembly at the very idea of government studying options for cancer care at a new hospital in Corner Brook.
“I mean, that is astonishing,” Joyce said during question period. “You made a decision not to have a radiation unit or PET scanner, but because of public pressure now you are going to do a study. That is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker.”
As it happens, Joyce has been the loudest, most dogged voice speaking about the hospital in Corner Brook for more than two years, and the Liberal party has already promised that if it forms the government, it will put a PET scanner in the new Corner Brook hospital.
Nonetheless, Joyce was in full swing Tuesday, going after the government for changing its mind about the Corner Brook hospital.
“The minister of health stated in this House on Dec. 9 that we will not be providing radiation services at Western Memorial Regional Hospital. The PC leadership candidate says he supports a radiation unit for the new hospital,” Joyce said. “I ask the premier: does your government stand by the statements of your minister, or the PC candidate?”
Premier Tom Marshall — who like Joyce, is also from Corner Brook — said the government is just studying it, and looking at various treatment models which could possibly see radiation services provided in Corner Brook.
“We are going to have a study done, but the study will just not include Western (Health); the study will include the whole province of Newfoundland and Labrador,” Marshall said. “The terms of reference have not been set yet, but it is a study to determine if we can adopt what is a referred to as a hub and spoke model, a different model than the national model that is being used in the country today. When that work is done it will be announced, and yes, when the reports are completed we will be happy to share them with the Opposition and the people of the province.”
As Joyce referenced, both candidates running for the leadership of the PC party have talked about cancer care at the Corner Brook hospital.
On Monday, presumed frontrunner Frank Coleman issued a news release saying that radiation treatment needs to be added in Corner Brook, and the PET scanner the Liberals are promising should be studied, too.
“I believe that having access to radiation therapy closer to home is the right option for the people of the western region,” Coleman said. “This would complement the availability of chemotherapy in Corner Brook. As such, I encourage the provincial government to proceed with the review as soon as possible.”
In the legislature, Joyce mostly seemed indignant the government hadn’t already studied the possibility of a radiation unit at the hospital.
Joyce pointed out that the government has been promising a new hospital for years, but it hasn't delivered.
“You are not centrefold for the trust magazine when it comes to the hospital in Corner Brook,” he said. “I can assure you of that.”
But Marshall fired back that if there was a “trust magazine” that was doing a special issue on Corner Brook health care, and if they were looking for a centrefold model, Joyce wouldn't get the job either.
“When the honourable member opposite was in government people wanted an MRI machine. He did not deliver on that,” Marshall said. “People wanted a new long-term care facility. He did not deliver on that, we did. I think people know who they can trust when it comes to commitments made in health care for the people of Western Newfoundland.”
(This is a corrected version)