Fraser Valley neighbours question Vancouver’s hospital/transit deal with the province
A Chilliwack councillor suggested deal may leave some Fraser Valley residents paying more than their share.
Fraser Valley residents who buy gas in Langley and parts west are indirectly subsidizing the construction of hospitals in Metro Vancouver. That’s the idea floated by Chilliwack Coun. Jason Lum recently, as he asked for a deeper look into whether local taxpayers are getting ripped off, and whether the way hospital improvements in the Lower Mainland needs to change.
The conversation follows Fraser Health’s request for millions more in local property taxes to cover the cost of coming hospital and long-term care improvements. We wrote about Fraser Health’s surprise request for $4.2 million here. At a meeting in late April, the Fraser Valley Regional Hospital District rejected that request and voted instead to only provide the $1.8 million that it usually provides each year.
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The two funding models
Hospital improvements in the central and eastern Fraser Valley (Abbotsford/Mission to Hope) are historically funded 40% by the hospital district, which raises money through property taxes.
But a decades-old agreement created a very different system in Langley and the rest of Metro Vancouver. There, the health authority and province cover 100% of the cost of hospital upgrades. In exchange, the regional district is in charge of regional transit, and funds Translink through property tax dollars and from gas taxes.
It’s the gas tax part of the equation that Lum was particularly interested in during a recent meeting of the Fraser Valley Regional Hospital District—the body tasked with raising and overseeing property tax money for health care in the eastern Fraser Valley.
Lum pointed out that Metro Vancouver’s use of gas taxes means that Fraser Valley residents who fuel up in Vancouver help fund Translink, the existence of which means the provincial government covers the full cost of hospital upgrades.
Lum wants the province to explain “how they’re ensuring equity” across the region and to Fraser Valley residents who pay both for local hospital upgrades through their property taxes and might also prop up the transit-for-health agreement in Vancouver when they buy gas there.
Mission Mayor Paul Horn said locals also need an explanation as to why requests for more money have increased. In each of the last two years, Fraser Health has asked the hospital district for more than $4 million in funding, more than twice the $1.8 million usually provided by the district.
“We need understanding of why there was such a difference in the request,” Horn said.