Potential Economic and Business Impacts of a New SFU Medical School in Surrey City Centre

Research Executive Summary

The purpose of this study is to project the anticipated positive economic impact of a new medical school offering a distributed learning model in Surrey Centre and to provide data and recommendations that can be used in the advancement of this project.

There are three components of the research described in this report. First is a literature review which looked at previous analyses that have been conducted to support distributed medical education, the models that have been used to evaluate their economic impact and the findings from qualitative research on the benefits of recent experiences with establishment of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the Windsor Regional Medical Campus in Ontario. Surrey and Simon Fraser University can benefit from learning the positive outcomes we found here.

The second component was qualitative research. Here we conducted in-depth key informant interviews with community stakeholders from business organizations, health care providers, Indigenous organizations, and civic associations. These community leaders were both consistent and strong in their support for a medical school and indicated that not only would it make a significant positive contribution to Surrey’s economy and businesses, but that it would also provide for better health care and support Surrey’s diverse communities. For instance, leaders in Indigenous communities looked forward to a local medical school which would provide more, appropriate, and culturally safe opportunities for Indigenous and Metis jobs and education as well as better community and wellness services. We also heard that a medical school would enhance Surrey’s reputation.

In the third component, we used an input-output analysis to create quantitative estimates of the economic impact that a new medical school would generate. Direct, indirect and induced impacts on GDP, labour income, jobs and taxes were considered for both the construction and the operation of the medical school. The potential economic impact of resulting visitors to the community was also included.

We estimated direct, indirect and induced impacts for construction/capital, annual operating and visitor spending impacts:

  • For capital costs for the Medical School, we estimated $864,000 in GDP contribution to the provincial economy, 8 jobs supported and $212,000 government tax revenue for every $1 million of capital costs – for example, a $10 million construction project would bring almost $9 million in GDP contribution towards for the provincial economy, support 80 jobs and generate over $2 million in tax revenue in a year.
  • The annual operating cost associated with the Medical School is estimated to be $159.9 million of direct, indirect and induced GDP impacts towards the provincial economy; or over $3 billion over 20 years. Annual operation would also involve an impact of over 1,800 direct, indirect and induced jobs
  • We estimate out-of-province visitor spending impacts to be $690,000 contribution to the provincial GDP, and $127,000 tax revenue generated for the government per $1 million of visitor spending.

Excluding the above qualitative benefits, a Surrey Medical School will produce hundreds of millions of dollars each year and billions of dollars over the life of the facility.

Based on our findings, this report concludes with the following recommendations.

  • That as soon as possible the SFU Medical School planning function clearly define the quantity, scale and scope of students, faculty, staff, facility features, even if in a few scenarios and for both the shorter and longer terms. This will enable the development of a clear and strong value proposition for the funding case and to promote to stakeholders and the Surrey community.
  • That every effort be made to encourage the approval of funding and establishment of an SFU medical school featuring distributed practise in central Surrey.
  • That the Downtown Surrey BIA organize a Committee to that end including business, the medical community, health related organizations, political bodies, ethnic groups and Indigenous people to support this idea and be an ongoing sounding board for SFU.
  • That the Committee prepare and implement an information strategy for the general public about the advantages of such a medical school including:
    • the availability of more doctors;
    • better, faster health care;
    • more local education opportunities;
    • a higher level of economic activity and jobs; and
    • an enhancement of the community of Surrey’s status and reputation.

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