By Premier John Horgan

One thousand people doesn’t sound like much until you put it in context. One thousand people at a rock concert is a small crowd by today’s standards. One thousand people moving to your community every month, like in Surrey, can have a big impact.

Surrey is B.C.’s second-largest city and is growing fast; it’s on pace to overtake Vancouver’s population by 2041.

For people like Jodi George, a health-care worker and lifetime Surrey resident, the city has changed quickly. And with more people comes the need for more services, like public health care.

Jodi has worked in Fraser Health since 1988. She knows how overcrowding at Surrey Memorial has affected both her as a health-care worker and as a patient. Jodi never wants any of her seven grandchildren to spend the night in a bed in a hallway, like she did during a recent visit to the emergency room.

Health-care services are important to all British Columbians, but the pressures facing growing communities like Surrey, are unique. The unfortunate reality is that our hospitals are aging and were not maintained, upgraded or replaced by the previous government.

Our choice as a government is clear: we are investing in better, faster health care so that people in Surrey can get the care they need closer to home.

This week, we took another step forward in providing better health care to people in Surrey by announcing that we’ve approved the concept plan for a brand, new hospital, at a site next to Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

People in the community can look forward to improved emergency services, more surgeries, and faster access to scans and tests. We want to make sure your loved ones are taken care of when they are at their most vulnerable.

Surrey was the first place we announced an urgent primary care centre (UPCC) for B.C. and it has already seen about 21,000 visits since opening in 2018. The Surrey UPCC is now one of 14 centres announced around the province, helping to take pressure off our hospital emergency rooms and connecting people to the health-care services they need.

We also added a second MRI machine for the Fraser region and made sure existing MRI machines are running 24/7. In the Fraser Health region, more than 65,300 MRI exams were performed this year, a 17% increase from last year.

But health care isn’t just about new equipment and wait times; it’s about people like Jodi George and her family. It’s about caregivers, medical professionals, patients and support staff working together to improve the lives of those in their community. It’s about making sure our communities have the services they need as they grow.

It will take time to fix the problems, but we are working hard to deliver better, faster health care for everyone.