UBC’s physical therapy program coming to Surrey is another sign of Surrey’s prominence: Mayor McCallum

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SURREY – Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum on Thursday welcomed recent announcement by the Provincial government regarding expansion of UBC’s physical therapy program in Surrey.

Calling it another sign of Surrey’s prominence, Mayor Doug McCallum said, “I want to commend UBC and the provincial government for their foresight in bringing this program to Surrey. It will allow students from Surrey and south of the Fraser access to a world class education close to home. With today’s announcement, UBC joins KPU and SFU in offering university programs in Surrey. With our growing population, there is no question that there is ample demand for more post-secondary options within Surrey. I look forward to seeing what is next for UBC in Surrey.”

With provincial support, UBC has purchased the second floor of the City Centre 1 building in Surrey adjacent to Surrey Memorial Hospital. The space will be transformed to create teaching and research laboratories, seminar rooms, student learning commons, offices for faculty and multi-purpose space for assessment, treatment and health promotion. Currently, the UBC master of physical therapy program welcomes 100 new learners each academic year with students training at the UBC Vancouver campus and in Prince George, in partnership with tthe University of Northern British Columbia. A total of 20 new seats will be available this fall, with those students moving to the new location in Surrey when it opens in 2023.

“Physical therapists provide vital and life-improving services for British Columbians. We know there’s an increasing need for their services across the province, including the Fraser Health region. That’s why we are investing in this new location to support current and future program expansions at UBC in Surrey,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This capital investment will support the growth of this program, work toward meeting the demand for physical therapists today and well into the future.”

“This new space is an important part of UBC’s commitment to meeting the growing needs of Surrey and the Fraser region,” said Santa Ono, president and vice-chancellor of UBC. “By continuing to expand UBC’s presence in the Fraser, we’re creating new opportunities for students to learn and train locally where they’ll build deep connections with communities. We know learners are more likely to practise where they train, and this space will help encourage more physical therapists to stay and serve families in the region.”

The Province is investing $24.9 million, with UBC funding $7.9 million for the project. Work is entering the procurement phase this month with construction anticipated to start in fall 2022. The space is expected to open to students in fall 2023.

“UBC is grateful to the Province for this strategic investment in training the next generation of physical therapists in the Fraser,” said Dermot Kelleher, dean, faculty of medicine and vice-president of Health at UBC. “The new site also paves the way for future expansion of other UBC health-professional programs, such as occupational therapy and midwifery in collaboration with health partners to better serve the needs of students, patients and communities.”

Aman Bassi, UBC second-year physical therapy student, said: “It is a great privilege to have UBC and the department of physical therapy come to the Fraser region as it is a huge step in training more health-care professionals for this rapidly growing region. UBC’s presence will help foster an environment of learning, growth and development in this field of practice across the Fraser Valley for future physical therapy students.”

In the future, other health programs, like occupational therapy and midwifery, may be able to use the new facilities, creating collaborative learning environment for students attending UBC programs in Surrey.

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health said, “Physical therapists provide a critical aspect of comprehensive health care. Every day, their services ensure British Columbians recover from accidents, injuries and chronic conditions in confidence. Expanding the physical therapy program at UBC is one example of our government’s commitment to meeting our health human-resource needs by working in close collaboration with post-secondary institutions.”

Quick Facts:

* The project cost is $32.8 million, including $20.5 million for the purchase of the space and $12.3 million for renovations.

* Physical therapists are identified as high-demand jobs, with 1,860 job openings in B.C. expected between 2021 and 2031.

* Physical therapists plan and implement treatment programs with a focus on prevention and mitigation of disease, injury and disability through therapeutic exercise programs.

* Occupational therapists support people who are recuperating from or impaired by illness, injury, developmental disorders or mental-health difficulties by encouraging rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.

* Midwives play an important role in B.C.’s health-care system, which includes providing primary care to women and their families during pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period.