Premier Jason Kenney says Thursday’s budget will include a $1.8-billion investment for the renewal and expansion of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
The premier made the announcement in Red Deer Wednesday morning. Kenney said the $1.8-billion commitment is the single largest taxpayer investment in the history of central Alberta.
“This is a banner day. This is an historic day,” Kenney said. “A great day for Red Deer. A great day for Alberta.”
Read more: Red Deer hospital diverting all but ‘life or limb’ emergency surgeries to Edmonton and Calgary
The premier said $193 million will be spent over the next three years to add 200 new inpatient beds at the central Alberta hospital. The new beds will increase capacity from 370 to 570 beds.
“We need more beds. We need more capacity,” Kenney said.
The multi-year investment will also include three new operating rooms, increased surgical capacity and a new cardiac catheterization lab, Kenney said.
The province said the project is expected to be complete in 2030-2031.
“Red Deer and central Alberta’s growing populations mean that our ability to effectively provide health care with the current hospital is limited, resulting in all too frequent disruptions to patient care,” Health Minister Jason Copping said.
“This needed redevelopment will increase capacity and expand services to meet central Albertans’ needs into the future.”
“This announcement is life-saving,” Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston said.
Finance Minister Travis Toews said the expansion in Red Deer will also help take pressure off hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton.
The Red Deer hospital is the busiest hospital outside of Edmonton and Calgary, with the fourth-highest volume of any Alberta Health Services facility, according to the province.
About 50 per cent of the patients seen at the facility are referred from communities outside of Red Deer.
The province said $100 million was allocated to the project in the 2020 Alberta budget.
The Red Deer hospital renewal project is part of the government’s overall commitment to increase health-care capacity across Alberta, Kenney explained.
Thursday’s budget, which will be tabled in the afternoon, will see “even more historic” spending on Alberta’s health-care system, Kenney said.
The premier said the goal is to increase the number of private operations from 15 per cent to 30 per cent over two years. Kenney said they would be paid for by the public health-care system.
“This is one way of getting more surgeries done more efficiently and more quickly to reduce surgical wait times,” he said Tuesday.
“One hundred per cent of the surgeries that will be funded through this initiative are publicly insured. No one has to get out their credit card.”