VICTORIA — British Columbia Premier John Horgan said the discovery of a growth in his throat requires immediate biopsy surgery, but he plans to stay on the job.
Horgan said he's been in and out of the hospital for a number of weeks for tests after noticing a lump on his neck and expects an overnight stay after undergoing the biopsy procedure on Friday.
"Those tests have revealed a growth in my throat that requires surgery tomorrow," he said Thursday at a news conference. "The biopsy surgery will reveal what exactly we're dealing with. You're not supposed to have growths in your throat."
Horgan said he won't step down and plans to retain his position as the head of the Council of the Federation.
The premier said he intends to keep working to support the people of B.C. through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
"There's a lot of work to do and I am very anxious to do it, and now more than ever quite frankly," he said.
Horgan, who is 62 and had bladder cancer when he was in his 40s, said he has been in this spot before and he's not alone.
"It's important, I think, for people to understand that this isn't the first time I've experienced a health issue like this," he said. "It's the extraordinary efforts of our public health-care system that gives me complete confidence that all will be fine for me."
Horgan urged people with health concerns to see a doctor.
"For those of you out there who have concerns about this or that, don't wait, see a doctor," he said.
The Opposition B.C. Liberals issued a statement sending best wishes to Horgan and his family on behalf of the party caucus.
"Today's news comes as a shock to all of us," said interim leader Shirley Bond, adding she has known Horgan for almost two decades.
"You are in our thoughts as we all wish for the best possible outcomes in the medical journey that lies ahead," Bond said in the statement.
Horgan said doctors told him his health issues are treatable, but he may be away from the legislature.
As a precaution, Horgan said he appointed Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to serve as deputy premier.
Farnworth, the NDP's house leader who was first elected to the legislature in 1991, will offer steady support, he said.
Horgan said he wanted the public to be confident in the guidance Farnworth will provide if he needs to be away from the legislature.
"Should there be a reason for me to be out of commission for a period of time, receiving treatment, they know that the government's in good hands," he said. "I certainly feel that way and I wanted to reassure people by making that appointment and announcement today."
Farnworth said he may attend briefings or meetings on the premier's behalf.
"My role is to assist the premier in whatever way he needs help," said Farnworth.
Horgan told him he expected to be back at work by next week, Farnworth said.
The minister said he was concerned when Horgan told him about the biopsy surgery.
"He and I have been friends and colleagues for 30-plus years," Farnworth said.
Horgan said his current health issues have convinced him to redouble efforts to push the federal government to increase health funding transfers to the provinces.
He said he expects to attend a meeting with the prime minister and the premiers in December where health transfers will be a top issue.
"It needs a rejuvenation," Horgan said of the health transfers funding.
The B.C. New Democrats recently marked one year since the party's re-election to a majority government in October 2020. Horgan called a snap election during the pandemic after forming a minority government in June 2017.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2021.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press