The federal Liberals won’t be helping out their Nova Scotia cousins with money for a new hospital in Halifax.
“They don’t build hospitals,” Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters Thursday.
McNeil, and a number of his ministers had been lobbying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other federal minister to help pay for the replacement of the Victoria General Hospital. However, McNeil says he doesn’t believe the province will get a “positive response” on that ask.
Ottawa’s decision not to pitch in isn’t stopping the project, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Geoff MacLellan said. However, the province is now looking at other funding options, including the possibility of a public private partnership, known as a P3.
“There’s certain examples and certain situations where P3 work,” MacLellan said.
However, internal government documents obtained through access to information laws by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union show the health department isn’t sure that a P3 model is the way to go.
“It is difficult to find examples of successful P3s where there are no criticisms,” deputy Health Minister Peter Vaughan said in a 2014 briefing note.
Citing auditor general reports from across the country, Vaughan says P3s have been problematic in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec. According to Vaughan, Ontario’s auditor general found a P3 hospital had cost the province $200 million more than it would have if it had been built directly by the province.
In Nova Scotia, Vaughan’s briefing note says several reports on the health department’s current P3s criticized the department “for its challenges in providing effective oversight and holding entities accountable.”
MacLellan said a final decision hasn’t been made on the funding model for the new hospital.
Replacement plan facing more delays
Health Minister Leo Glavine says the government is still weeks away from announcing its plan to replace the Victoria General Hospital. The new delay comes after it was first slated to be announced in January, and then April. On Thursday Glavine said it would come “this spring.”
In 2014, McNeil and Glavine together announced the government would put an addition on the Halifax Infirmary in order to close the Centennial building at the Victoria General Hospital site. However, Glavine says those plans were cancelled after clinicians said they wouldn’t meet the future health care needs of Nova Scotia.
“This did not reflect how they see the delivery of health care for next 40, 50 years,” Galvine said. “So we basically had to start at ground zero.”
The plans that appear to be cancelled show two different options for an eight-story addition to the infirmary building. Both include two levels of underground parking, three floors for patient rooms, a conference centre and a floor for operating rooms.