Alberta Votes

Calgary cancer centre advocates don't want voters to forget issue

Advocates for the proposed Calgary cancer centre say they want voters to consider the issue in next week's provincial election.

Tories backed off 2013 promise to build one-stop facility at Foothills hospital

Kim Walker went through intensive treatment for leukemia and is now cancer free. She wants Calgary to have one cancer treatment centre. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Advocates for the proposed Calgary cancer centre say they want voters to consider the issue in next week's provincial election.

For years, the provincial government promised a one-stop shop for cancer patients at the Foothills hospital. Then earlier this year it announced the facility would be divided between two sites.

The new cancer centre was planned to be built next to 29th Street N.W. where a parking structure now sits. (CBC)

Kim Walker went through intensive treatment for leukemia and is now cancer free. She says the current facilities are overcapacity and patients often have to travel to more than one site for treatment.

"I believe that Albertans, as we are voting next week, we should be really considering who will be listening to our voices and who will be working with us as Albertans so that we're delivering on the best solutions for our cancer approaches."

John Osler with Concerned Citizens for the Calgary Cancer Centre says this issue should be on southern Albertans' minds, especially during an election.

"The work is going to continue after the election," he said. "Our group intends to continue to push the government to stand by the promise it made in March of 2013 to build a comprehensive cancer centre to give Calgarians the best care possible."

A petition recently launched by the group now has about 1,100 signatures.

Leaders debate the issue

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said her party would build one centre in Calgary by the Foothills hospital.

"It doesn't make sense that cancer treatment would be scattered across the city inefficiently and ineffectively. So we're very committed to that," she said.

But PC leader Jim Prentice isn't fazed, arguing the South Health Campus already has some of the necessary infrastructure.

"It's the most effective and quickest way we can get a facility in place."

Prentice said Albertans understand that in tough financial times, he can't say yes to every project.

But Osler disagrees. "Second best, when it comes to cancer care, is simply not good enough. Calgarians deserve the best cancer care. Cancer patients in southern Alberta today have to accept second best and this new plan doesn't change that."

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