Decision looming on whether new P3 hospitals live or die

Finance Minister Kelvin Ng says Arviat health centre construction expected to re-start and finish by November.



RANKIN INLET — Finance Minister Kelvin Ng said in the Legislative Assembly this week that preliminary planning for three new health care centres in Nunavut is almost complete, and will allow the government to make a decision on whether or not to go ahead and build them through proposed public-private partnerships, or “P3” agreements.

The territorial government is negotiating service contracts with Sakku Investments, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and the Kitikmeot Corporation to allow unfinished preliminary planning for the health centres to be completed, Ng said, “[A]nd bring these projects to the stage where informed decisions can be made to proceed, or not to proceed, with the construction of these facilities.”

Ng said he hoped to have the contracts in place in the next few weeks.

The P3 projects would see Inuit development corporations build health care facilities in Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay and Arviat, and then lease them back to the Nunavut government.

If the projects go ahead, Iqaluit would get the replacement hospital promised by the federal government in 1988, while Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay would get smaller, expanded health centres, which some politicians have referred to in the past as “cottage hospitals.”

The Arviat project is for a badly-needed replacement for the community’s aging nursing station.

Construction work on the Arviat health centre will resume in the spring, Ng said, adding that he expects the centre to be completed in November.

Work was temporarily halted on the Arviat project last August, when the excavation site was found to be contaminated with fuel oil. He said 90 per cent of the contaminated soil has now been removed.

Ng also told his fellow MLAs that the other three projects were at different planning stages when they were inherited from the GNWT by the Nunavut government.

“The three remaining health care facilities present some challenges,” he said.

“Our new government, in some cases, did not have the opportunity to approve the functional plans, establish P3 management teams, nor to develop business cases for proceeding with these new health care projects under a P3 arrangement.”

The P3 projects, which were initiated under the GNWT, have to conform to criteria set out by the Auditor General of Canada, especially criteria for the degree of risk that must be borne by the contractor chosen to build and lease back the buildings.

A draft of a consultant’s report on the P3 projects is being circulated within the Department of Finance and Administration, and within the Department of Public Works, Ng told MLAs.

He also said a policies and procedures study commissioned by the Financial Management Board in May 1999 to guide the Nunavut government though the development, award and management of P3 projects is “virtually complete.”

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