Community shouldnt have to foot for escalating costs: Casey

Harry Sullivan
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TRURO - After raising more than $26 million for a new regional hospital, the local community has already given its "fair share," former Health minister Karen Casey says.
"And I don't believe it's fair to ask a community that has been squeezed as tightly as this one has, to get over $25 million ... to go back and contribute anything more," she said, Wednesday afternoon.
"They have given more, per capita, than any other community to any other project and they should be acknowledged for that."
Casey made it clear that her comments were intended from the perspective of an area resident and not from her position as the interim leader of Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative party.
Casey is also the MLA for Colchester North, a former health minister and a former chairperson of the district health authority.
The Truro Daily News revealed this week that another $25 million is required for the new hospital, a figure that now brings the project's estimated total to $179.6 million.
Casey was health minister when construction for the hospital began and earlier this week, current NDP Health Minister Maureen MacDonald repeatedly stated that the project was already "significantly" over budget when she took office last summer.
"When I entered the department at the middle of June, I was told that there was a real potential of an additional $34 million being required," MacDonald said.
That figure has since been hacked down to a shortfall of $24.6 million and the minister has asked health authority officials to solicit more funding from the communities the hospital will serve.
"As I said to them, we really have to go back and make them ask and see what the response will be," she said.
Casey, however, believes that response is simply wrong given what the extended community has already contributed.
"As with any project we know that costs can escalate for a number of reasons," she said. "And, we also know, that when that happens, governments have a responsibility to make sure they work through the project to its completion. And if that requires reallocation of money within the government then that's what should happen. In this particular case this is the government that is in power and this is the government that is responsible for making the decision to move forward with that project. It was a project in progress and it needs to be brought to completion and they are the government responsible for doing that."
Casey also called on Truro Bible Hill NDP MLA Lenore Zann to pursue a similar course. Zann could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
"I am not the MLA for Truro Bible Hill but I would expect that that MLA will fight on behalf of her constituents to ensure that the decisions made by her government will allow this project to proceed," she said. "... this is a government that campaigned on making things better for Nova Scotians and here is a community with a project in place designed to make things better for Nova Scotians, so let's see this government basically put their money where their mouth is."
Delays in the tendering process for the mechanical and electrical components of the project are likely to push the opening of the hospital into 2012, instead of fall 2011 as planned.
But despite the budget shortfall, Colchester East Hants Health Authority Peter MacKinnon said, there are no plans to cut programs (such as the MRI unit) planned for the new facility.

Organizations: Truro Daily News, Colchester East Hants Health Authority Peter MacKinnon

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Colchester North

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Recent comments

  • why
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Zann could not be reached for comment I am beginning to think that is her name.

  • Larry
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Karen, maybe you can contribute 4 or 5 of those TV's to the hospital that you bought on the backs of Nova Scotians. Or maybe you could take that electric fireplace out of your house and put it in the nursing station so someone that works hard for a living won't be chilly.

  • Sam
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    And I dont believe its fair to ask a community that has been squeezed as tightly as this one has, to get over $25 million ... to go back and contribute anything more .... ?????

    Here's the thing - we're going to pay for it one way or another. Be it through federal income tax, provincial income tax, or property tax, taxpayers will have to come up with this money one way or another. The spread might be different but we're still on the hook for this out of control deal.

  • L
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Sounds like someone is trying to kiss some butt after all the spending flap....yes Karen you're right, why should we pay for a hospital, we need to stick to the task at hand at pay off our generators, televisions,cameras, and $700 Roots briefcases first...priorities taxpayers, priorities!!

  • Mandy
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    These comments on abusing the system of spending tax payers money are 'right on the mark' and this is exactly what Dexter is trying to reform. Can you imagine the hate campaign that would form if every Tory had their spending account publicized? It's the losing Tories and the people who voted for them for decades that need to wake up!! Wake up folks. Stop putting down a government that is cleaning up a VERY stinky, dirty raw Tory deal that Nova Scotians have been dealt for too long. If you can't do that, just bury your head a little deeper.

  • Mitch
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    to the others who posted comments - why bother bringing up the expense fiasco with this article? Totally unrelated. Here is a politician who is arguing to NOT have the community fundraise an additional $25 million. Where is Ms. Zann with all of this?

  • L
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    I realize that these issues have nothing to do with each other, however my point is that I think Karen has absolutely lost the right to put forth any kind of opinions as to where the hard working taxpayers dollars are going.