Province to cover $25-million hospital shortfall
Full speed ahead
TRURO - News that the provincial government will provide the additional $25 million needed to complete the new regional hospital was met with cheer yesterday by local officials.
"Very good news today. Really happy about that," said Peter MacKinnon, CEO of the Colchester East Hants Health Authority.
"We've been in discussions with the province now for some time about how we were going to continue to move forward, so we knew things were moving through the processes with government and knew that an announcement was coming. But we're very, very pleased at the outcome and how the government has stepped up to support our project."
MacKinnon's comments were echoed by Truro Mayor Bill Mills and Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor.
"Very pleased," Mills said, of his reaction, while Taylor also described the announcement as "very good."
"That's great news. Very good, very good," he said. "I think it's good they're able to resolve that."
Project managers learned last summer the new hospital was going to have budget difficulties when tenders for the mechanical and electrical systems came in much higher than had been projected.
In recent weeks, Health Minister Maureen MacDonald approached the authority about the possibility of going back to the community for more funding. But that option was dismissed after Taylor and Mills both said their municipalities would not be making further contributions.
Truro-Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann said she had also been working hard with the Health minister to ensure the project did not get bogged down.
And yesterday, she added her voice to those cheering the government's decision.
"This additional investment shows us that Minister MacDonald is dedicated to working toward the completion of this project," she said, adding that local residents have also done "a tremendous job" of fundraising for the facility....
"We have all pulled together to make this a reality."
The total budget of the replacement facility currently sits at just under $180 million.
With yesterday's announcement, the provincial government's total contribution now stands at $154 million, or 85 per cent of the total project costs.
Area residents and ratepayers have pledged the remaining $26 million toward the project.
When the project was announced in 2005, the original budget stood at $104 million.
MacKinnon said the additional funding means the tender process for the mechanical and electrical contracts will now proceed within the coming weeks.
"Very soon," he said.
The mechanical and electrical tenders represent about 45 per cent of the construction budget. The facility is currently weather-tight and about 28 per cent complete. Although it had been expected to open in the fall of 2011, that is now expected to occur in 2012.