Cost of new hospital included in fiscal forecast: Marshall

Gary Kean
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The site of the new Western Memorial Regional Hospital is shown in this undated photo. — Star file photo

CORNER BROOK  Finance Minister Tom Marshall says it was irresponsible for MP Gerry Byrne to publicly state that plans for the new regional hospital in Corner Brook have been delayed because of the province’s fiscal situation.

In Friday’s edition of The Western Star, Byrne said the province is experiencing “a cash crunch” and that a senior government official has told the Liberal Commons member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte that construction tenders for the building are on hold because the province needs to reserve as much money as it can for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

On Friday, Byrne told The Western Star that he has heard the same thing from a minister in the provincial cabinet and that local hospital staff involved with committees working on the design and needs of the new facility have not met in months to resume that work.

Marshall fired back, saying Friday that he has some senior government sources of his own, namely Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Health and Community Services Minister Susan Sullivan, that say Byrne is wrong.

The finance minister, who is the Tory legislature member for Humber East, agreed that the province is expecting to have less revenue in coming years because of the expiration of the Atlantic Accord agreement and reduced offshore oil production, but said those things have already been factored into the province’s financial planning for the hospital.

“There is money in the fiscal forecast for the hospital and our government remains 100 per cent committed to the new hospital in Corner Brook,” Marshall said Friday. “Officials with Western Health and the Department of Health (and Community Services) are engaged in the planning process and have made significant progress.”

Work to prepare the site on the outskirts of Corner Brook has already been started. Byrne said Friday that, until a firm date has been set for the start of the construction phase, then there is no solid plan for how the project will develop.

Byrne said the province had previously stated the hospital would open in 2015, then that date got pushed to 2016 and it now appears it will be two years later than that.

Marshall, who said Friday he expects the new hospital to be commissioned in 2018, said the province and Western Health are still in the process of figuring out the programming that will go into the hospital and those details could affect the overall design of the facility.

“This does not in any way impact our commitment to the Corner Brook hospital,” said Marshall. “In fact, I think people of the area should be encouraged that we wait to make sure our approach is the right one and meets the future needs of the region.

“I think it is irresponsible for people to try to create doubts in the minds of the public without the facts. Our commitment to this project has not and will not waver.”

The hospital is expected to cost around $750 million and is the largest capital infrastructure project to be taken on by the provincial government.

Marshall said delays are to be expected when planning such a major project.

He noted there were similar delays with Corner Brook Regional High School, the result of which was the inclusion of a new industrial arts suite, and with Corner Brook’s long-term care facility, which resulted in an extra floor being included in the construction.

“With a project of this magnitude, I would expect that, from time to time, they will identify improvements and things they want to redesign and they will do that,” aid Marshall.

Organizations: Liberal Commons, Health and Community Services, Department of Health Corner Brook hospital Corner Brook Regional High School

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Western Star, Humber East

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Recent comments

  • David
    March 27, 2012 - 11:33

    The Western Star broke the story about the layoffs at the mill...and was roundly criticized for it. The one time they do what newspapers are expected to do...break news...and their readersturn on them for it. Amazingly surreal, to say the least. People here clearly enjoy remaining ignorant of the truth, to stay wrapped in the nice, cozy warmth of happy deceits and untruths for as long as a child trying to sneak in a couple more minutes of sleep on a cold morning. Fact: that hospital should have been close to opening by now, and it isn't started. But hey, it's not as if the provincial government has had several years of gobs of money to pay for it from any sort of "cash gusher", is it? But hey, if a fantasy university has gotten a politician this much mileage for this long, how many snozzefest elections could a fantasy hospital, complete with an actual hole in ground, get them? Oooops...we just now ran out of spare cash! That is SUCH bad luck !?!

  • blabla
    March 25, 2012 - 12:00

    gerry byrne has done nothing for western nl for long time and i dont think he did much for western nl when the libs were in power. he takes this opportunity to stir up controversy where there is none for his own political benefit. i can't beleive ppl voted for him. he's been an mp for over 15 years and is STILL a backbencher and still holds no position of power in his party. he should be number two in the party by now but he's still sweeping the floors. the libs know he's not that good and we should know that too. he has a horrible attendance record that ppl choose not care about and he's a absolutely horrible speaker. ppl need to realise this guy hasn't done anything. the mha's are having real discussions on how to better our lives grappling politically over who best serve us while this guy is doing NOTHING in parliament. he's gomer pile.

  • peter barry
    March 24, 2012 - 15:44

    well mr. marshall if western health is figuring out the programming to what going in there how about a place for people with cancer so that dont have to go to st.johns for treatment.

  • Tommy
    March 24, 2012 - 13:24

    So is there a word on how much will be spend this season and when will tenders actually go out...I mean the next phase should not have any impact on improvments down the rd....The Ground work is Completed and now onto preparing for Concrate...One would think....Its going into April the season is approaching,and soon has the frost is out of the ground work can be started..I was told there was going to be aprox $100,000,000 spend this yr for phase two..This was from an MHA..

  • Donna Luther
    March 24, 2012 - 11:49

    Thank you for clearing that up. It certainly is a huge project and much, much planning is needed to ensure we have a facility that will last for many years to come.

  • Charles
    March 24, 2012 - 11:10

    This isn't about Gerry Byrne or Tom Marshall...It about the health of the people...When someone DECIDE that a court house and muskrat more important...then the well been of people...then there something wrong with the picture....The last election...this government was spending money left and right...Now it paid back time....It not LIKE we all have our own...PERSONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM...WHERE WE CAN WALK IN...BY PASS EVERYONE IN THE WAITING ROOM...RIGHT TO THE DOCTOR...WHO NEED A NEW HOSPITAL...NOT ME...JUST FRIENDS

  • Clar
    March 24, 2012 - 10:36

    Well, now we know the commitment is there but what funds will be put in place this year and next year. What contracts will be called ? What will be the excuse when there is no activity on the site this year. If it takes so long to plan what the hospital will be how long will it take to build. If it takes so long to plan by the time that is done it will be out of date.How long can we drag this along?

  • george p b
    March 24, 2012 - 09:47

    Gerry Byrne has not been in the news lately. No longer in power, no longer able to dribble out precious tax dollars, generating a photo op; constantly trolling for votes using other peoples money. So now running off at the mouth, criticizing people who are trying to accomplish things--the new Gerry Byrne... What is your legacy Gerry? Did Gerry leave a building or highway or bridge as his signature accomplishment? Gerry--step aside & give somebody else a chance!!! You have been in too long...

  • Jack
    March 24, 2012 - 09:19

    When the hospital price tag is over $750 million, while new hospitals of similar size in Nova Scotia are at most $200 million, you know that something is wrong in the project management department. Even a large hospital would not cost $750 million to build, but only $150 million. Definitely a case of poor project management as well as the consequences of not sticking to the scope of the project.

  • max
    March 24, 2012 - 09:06

    It will be a great day when Gerry Byrne gets elected as part of a Liberal majority government some time in this century.Then,to quote Brian Peckford, "'have-not will be no more" With his amazing ability to accomplish things for his district it should not be overlooked when the Liberals form their cabinet.It would be remiss of the P.M. to overlook such a talent. It's been my opinon for some time' , that the most important criteria for a politician in a re-election bid in most areas of the province is to provide a never- ending barrage of rhetoric. Surely, this guy is right up there in the top 10 percentile! By -the -by Mr.Byrne,take a minute and tell your electorate of YOUR accomplishments of the last 10 years.

    March 24, 2012 - 09:00

    Now Gerry Byrne, put that in your pipe and smoke it!