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Nurses raise concerns over staffing for future Calgary Cancer Centre

WATCH: The United Nurses of Alberta said that if the UCP take office, staffing could be an issue at the Calgary Cancer Centre. The UCP responded by saying the facility will be fully staffed. Michael King reports.

The Calgary Cancer Centre (CCC) is still years away from being completed, but there are already questions about how it will be run.

Construction is well underway but past uncertainty has caused front-line workers to question the future of the project.

The CCC has been approved and rejected several times over the last 14 years, going back to Ralph Klein’s announcement in 2005.

It has been canceled twice; once in 2010 by Ed Stelmach and again in 2014 by Jim Prentice.

READ MORE: Notley releases design plans for new Calgary cancer centre

Premier Rachel Notley brought the CCC back to life in 2015 and the project is expected to be completed by 2023.

The back and forth of previous governments has caused concerns among nurses.

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Jane Sustrik – the first vice-president of the United Nurses of Alberta — said the possibility of a United Conservative Party government could impact how the CCC is run once open.

“We’ve certainly heard intentions from the UCP to significantly and drastically cut budgets,” said Sustrik.

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She added that any kind of reductions to Alberta Health Service’s bottom line would be detrimental.

READ MORE: Groundbreaking on Friday for new Calgary Cancer Centre

“We have sites around the province that currently have vacancies for registered nurses,” said Sustrik. “To see (the CCC) not be used to meet needs would be very disappointing.”

A UCP statement sent to Global News said the party would continue forward with the CCC if elected and that cancelling the project would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions dollars.

“It is ridiculous to suggest that a United Conservative government would waste hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars by cancelling it.”

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It adds that it’s too early to lay out any specific plans for staffing but stressed the CCC would be a fully-functional facility under a UCP government.

At a news conference Monday, Notley said the NDP is committed to making the CCC a leader in cancer treatment and care. She added that building the complex is the first step, but making it operational is what counts.

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“Making sure that operations carry-on to the highest quality possible once the centre is built is the second part of the formula,” said Notley.

The premier said the $1.4-billion facility is currently on schedule and under budget. Construction is expected to be completed in 2022 with the facility up and running by 2023.