Fact check: Who will pay for the Victoria General hospital redevelopment?

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WATCH: Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie has spent the first few days of the election campaign defending his plan to pay for the Victoria General hospital redevelopment. Marieke Walsh reports on the Tory’s plan and the ones being pitched by the NDP and Liberals – May 3, 2017

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie has spent the first few days of the election campaign defending his infrastructure plan.

On the first full day of campaigning, Baillie unveiled a $2 billion infrastructure plan — he expects Ottawa to pay for half of it, including a new Victoria General (VG) hospital.

READ MORE: All our Nova Scotia Election 2017 coverage

In 2016, Stephen McNeil told reporters his request for federal funding for the hospital was denied because Ottawa doesn’t fund hospital construction. Following requests from Global News, the federal infrastructure and health departments both said that policy stands.

But Baillie told reporters on Tuesday that McNeil failed to put forward a strong enough argument with Ottawa.

“I want to make a business case about how the VG hospital fits into their priorities and I think I can do it,” Baillie said.

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The federal government said other than on First Nation reserves it has never paid for hospital construction.

“Delivery of services and health care infrastructure would be under provincial and territorial jurisdiction,” spokesperson Andrew MacKendrick said in an emailed statement.

On Wednesday, NDP Leader Gary Burrill said Baillie’s plan included a “certain amount of magical thinking.”

READ MORE: Relocation of VG hospital services to begin late 2016

But Baillie said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2015 campaign platform promised money for hospitals and he plans to hold him to that. Ottawa says its already made good on the promise through the strategic investment fund and health transfers that provinces can spend how they wish.

Through the strategic investment fund McGill University and two affiliated hospitals got $70.7 million for research facilities. Baillie said that means Nova Scotia should also get money from it. But according to the innovation department, six different post-secondary schools in Nova Scotia got a combined $60.3 million through the fund although none were directly connected to hospitals.

The fund expires in 2018.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia hospitals need $85 million for urgent repairs and maintenance: auditor general

Asked what the back-up plan is if Trudeau says “no,” Baillie said he will expect Ottawa to make up for it elsewhere. For example, road construction.

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“If the federal government does not want to be a 50/50 partner with us on the VG that’s fine, we’ll carry that load and we’ll make it up with them in some of the other areas,” Baillie said.

The federal government has not yet released the maximum cost-share it will give provinces for road infrastructure through the new trade and transportation fund. The Building Canada Fund includes a 1/3 cost-share with provinces.

On Tuesday, McNeil told reporters the Tory’s plan has a “billion dollar hole.”

Liberals won’t yet say how they will pay for the hospital replacement

McNeil has refused to release the total cost estimates for the Victoria General hospital redevelopment, instead choosing to release costs for separate planks of the redevelopment as they’re available.

McNeil said all of the costs that have already been announced for the redevelopment are factored into current budget and debt projections, but estimates for the outstanding costs aren’t.

He told reporters Wednesday a public-private partnership model (P3) is still one of the options being considered to fund the remaining projects. Whatever financing option is chosen, McNeil said if he forms government again, the debt to GDP ratio will continue to decline, while the province builds the new hospital facilities.

“Our debt to GDP radio will continue to decline, that we’ll be at the target of 30 per cent by 2024,” he said Wednesday.

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NDP ‘rule out’ P3 funding model for new hospital

The NDP say if they form government they would not use a P3 funding model. Burrill said the evidence from the province’s P3 funded schools and roads is that the government ends up “losing control” of the projects and “losing money in the long run.”

“The first thing we would do would be move forward on the VG by the normal public procurement process and we would rule out moving ahead on the P3 basis from the outset.”

According to a timeline provided to reporters in 2016, the cost estimates for the Halifax Infirmary expansion and the outpatient clinic construction will be released in the second half of 2017 — those will likely be the two biggest costs for the redevelopment project.

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