British Columbia

'An incredible gift:' Province adds $5M to Canuck Place budget

As B.C. Liberal funding announcements continue, the province's main pediatric palliative care provider will add $5 million a year starting in 2018 to the $1.7 million it already receives. 'It's an incredible gift to be able to get that additional support so that we can further expand the services that we're providing,' says Canuck Place CEO.

Pediatric palliative care provider cares for 670 children and families across B.C.

Canuck Place Children's Hospice first opened its doors in 1995 as North America's first free-standing children's hospice. On average each year, it now cares for 670 children suffering from complicated health problems or facing end-of-life. (Canuck Place Children's Hospice)

Canuck Place — the province's pediatric palliative care provider — is celebrating a huge boost to its budget from the B.C. government.

On Sunday, the B.C. Liberals announced a yearly $5 million addition to the $1.7 million it already receives, starting in 2018.

"It's an incredible gift to be able to get that additional support so that we can further expand the services that we're providing," said Margaret McNeil, CEO Canuck Place Childrens' Hospice.

Currently, Canuck Place uses donations to provide 60 per cent of its operating budget. The other 40 per cent comes from the provincial lump sum, plus yearly grants worth around $3 million it has to apply for.

'The need continues to grow'

"That will now be part of our regular annual funding, which allows us to plan and that's the really significant shift for us," said McNeil

Canuck Place cares for children facing complex health issues or needing end-of-life care. It also has supportive programs for families of the children.

McNeil says the new money will be used to add support workers in communities, before adding new beds to facilities it has in Vancouver and Abbotsford.

In 2016, the organization saw an 11 per cent increase to participation in its program. On average, it cares for 670 children and their families a year.

"The need continues to grow," said McNeil.

The province says the money helps meet its goal of doubling the numbers of hospice and palliative care beds by 2020.

Meanwhile, McNeil says Canuck Place will continue to solicit donations despite the big bump up in funding.

The funding announcement comes close to others from B.C. Liberals about money for education, highways, search and rescue volunteers, zero-emission vehicles and gaming grants.

They all come in advance of the 2017 budget, which will be unveiled Tuesday.