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Premier reveals first details of SFU medical school

November 28, 2022

Simon Fraser University is forging ahead with planning for the first medical school to be built in Western Canada in the last half century.

Ten days after being sworn in as Premier of British Columbia, David Eby was at SFU’s Surrey campus to announce $4.9 million in start-up funding for the medical school on Monday and to share some of the first details about the school, which is aiming to accept it first students by September 2026.

“While we have made enormous progress to strengthen public health care over the last five years, we know that many British Columbians are struggling to find a family doctor and waiting too long for care on a waiting list or in an emergency room,” said Premier David Eby. “That’s why are taking action to train, recruit and retain family doctors now – and taking these steps with Simon Fraser University to train the health workforce we’ll need in the future. This investment in the first entirely new medical school in Western Canada in 55 years will mean more family doctors graduating each year to provide care for people.”

SFU has hired an interim Dean, Dr. Roger Strasser, who will provide strategic leadership in the planning and implementation of the medical school. Strasser was the founding Dean and CEO of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and is a recognized leader in the development of health care education.

“With this new medical school, the Province of B.C. is demonstrating its commitment to a strong public health care system that meets the needs of its diverse and growing population,” said Dr. Strasser. “I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to join SFU to help deliver on that vision.”

SFU will create a program for medical students and residents to learn in team-based primary care settings, which are patient-centred and consider social, environmental, and prevention contexts. First Nations, Inuit and Métis knowledge systems and perspectives will be embedded throughout the school.

“SFU is excited about the progress we’re making with the Province, health authorities, and Indigenous partners towards a new medical school,” says SFU President Joy Johnson. “With today’s announcement, we’ve hit another important milestone on that journey. The new medical school will serve everyone in B.C. – particularly underserved populations – training the next generation of doctors in communities throughout the province.”

The provincial government announced that it would create B.C.’s second medical school at SFU’s Surrey campus in late 2020.

Since then, the university has been hard at work laying the foundations for the program by engaging with internal and external communities and working with First Nations Health Authority and Fraser Health Authority to develop a medical school that is focused on educating primary care physicians and being accountable to the communities it serves.

The funding announced Monday will be used to support activities such as accreditation, curriculum planning, engagement, space planning and professional staff to support the SFU Medical School Project Office.

This investment builds on $1.5 million provided to the university earlier this year, to support the development of the business case. A project board has been established to oversee this work.