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Private health care 'the future': Chief Louie

Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie - Capital News File
Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie
— image credit: Capital News File

Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie doesn't believe that the federal government will have issues with the band's proposed private hospital.

"I believe that the federal government is supportive of the project," said Louie.

"There is nothing controversial to the extent that we are running afoul the Canada Health Act or anything like that. We've had a lot of legal advice on that and we're confident that what we're doing will satisfy the federal government."

Louie was on hand to speak to members of the Okanagan Urban Development Institute on Thursday.

He told the crowd that he hopes to make additional announcements about Lake Okanagan Wellness Centre later this summer.

Louie said that private health care in Canada is "inevitable."

"We believe the main problem that exists is that health care is something that is increased at such dramatic rates. (With) escalating costs, this country is not going to be able to afford full public health care for much longer," Louie told the UDI members.

"We know that Canada is one of two countries in the world that does not have full private first tier medical health care. That's quite significant when the rest of the world has already moved in that direction.

"So it's not something new to the world. It's something perhaps that will take some getting used to, but it is the future. We see that as inevitable."

He added that if WFN didn't follow through on its plans to create the facility, someone else would create something similar.

"It's something that Canada will certainly be more exposed to in the months ahead, no question."

The 100 bed, 200,000-square-foot private health facility proposed by WFN has been in the works for several years, said Louie.

He said he hasn't been surprised by criticism that has come out following news reports of the project.

"It would be nice to say that we hope not to have criticism, but I think we can expect that. We're taking our steps and every step we're taking is backed up by the legal homework that goes along with this. We're confident that we're on the right path."

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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