The Fraser Health authority wants to build a portable expansion for the emergency room in the parking lot of Royal Columbia Hospital in order to ease overcrowding.

Health Minister George Abbott said it's a temporary plan to create more space for patients and stretchers in the New Westminster emergency room while Fraser Health works on a larger plan for the hospital.

"Nobody is claiming that it is the master solution. That is going to come through the development of the master site plan, and through the detailed redevelopment plans that are being prepared by Fraser Health," Abbott said Wednesday. 

There have been several incidents at the hospital in recent months because of overcrowding.

In February, the fire marshal ordered part of the emergency room cleared because it was filled with too many people.

NDP health critic Adrian Dix said the hospital is being forced to provide health care in portables because of two Liberal government decisions. The first is what he calls the ill-conceived decision to shut down nearby St. Mary's Hospital in 2004. The second is what he described as underfunding for acute-care beds.

"This really, this decision to go with portables in our health-care system, is a symbol of a government that made the wrong decisions between 2001 and 2005," said Dix.

Fraser Health is seeking proposals to build the two modular units that would provide a waiting room for incoming patients, a holding area for patients on stretchers and a fixed workstation for ambulance attendants. It hopes to have construction completed by the fall.