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The B.C. government is spending more than $1.3-billion to upgrade the 297-bed Burnaby Hospital with two new patient-care towers featuring in its expansion plans.

The government says the upgrades are among the largest health-care investments in the province’s history and will affect every part of the existing hospital.

The plans include new wards and operating rooms, a bigger emergency department and a new cancer treatment centre.

The province says the last major upgrades to the hospital were done more than 40 years ago.

The first part of the project will be the construction of a six-storey, 78-bed patient-care tower housing a new maternity ward that is expected to open in 2023.

Premier John Horgan says Burnaby’s population growth is driving the need for the project.

“Burnaby is growing rapidly, and the hospital needs to be upgraded and modernized to keep up,” he said in a news release on Tuesday.

The province says the number of patients requiring hospital care in Burnaby is expected to increase by almost 60 per cent by 2036.

The second patient care tower will add 160 new beds and the cancer treatment centre. It is scheduled to open in 2027.

The hospital, which opened in 1952, provides a variety of services including emergency care, general surgery and palliative care.

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