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Work on Baffin hospital could start next fall

Plans to build a new Baffin hospital in Iqaluit are accelerating rapidly.


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT ¬ A site for a new Baffin hospital will be selected within the month, contracting methods are being finalized, and financial negotiations with the federal government are wrapping up.

That means that those people building the new Baffin hospital are hoping to have construction work well underway by the fall.

Jerry Ell, the president of Qikiqtaaluk Corporation and project manager for the hospital project, promises the “open and transparent” awarding of sub-contracts.

The corporation, the development arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, will build the hospital and lease it back to the government in a long-term arrangement.

Ell met with Iqaluit-based contractors recently to explain how they can get work on the project.

“We’re putting on the table the rules we’ll be using in the tendering,” Ell told about 15 contractors who met with QC officials in Iqaluit.

The Baffin hospital is one of three Nunavut health projects the GNWT has lumped together.

Smaller health centres, estimated at $9 million each, will be built in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. Representatives from regional health boards, Inuit birthright development corporations and the GNWT developed an overall framework recently for awarding contracts.

Contractors will get information

“We’re not creating another company that will compete with your businesses,” Ell assured contractors, adding it was a lack of information that caused tension within the business community when the Nunavut Construction Corporation was set up last year. “We want to avoid a lack of information to the contractors.”

Interim Commissioner Jack Anawak also gave tentative approval for the projects. Because leaseback agreements will extend past April 1, 1999, when the NWT separates, Anawak must give the nod for the projects to proceed.

“Final support would be needed once actual lease costs are identified, and the actual dollar amount that will be committed for the Nunavut government,” Ell said.

Same rules apply

All three regions are bound by the framework agreement and the same rules will apply to all developers, with modifications for each region.

“I don’t expect too much change,” Ell said.

He explained QC will award contracts based on a loose blend of current GNWT and QIA policies.

“To the extent possible, we’ll be using QIA policies.”

Businesses eligible for sole-source contracts will be chosen from lists maintained by the GNWT and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Invitations for tenders will be requested for contracts between $25,000-$250,000, and companies from across the North and southern Canada can bid on public tenders for work exceeding $250,000. Ell said, however, that he wants to “maximize the benefits within Nunavut.”

Details relating to how sole-sourced and invitational contracts will be awarded have yet to be finalized. A management committee, with members from the health board, GNWT and QC, will determine these and other details within the next few weeks, Ell said.

Is $25 million enough?

GNWT Finance Minister John Todd has repeatedly said that the government cannot afford more than $25 million for a new Baffin hospital.

But Dennis Patterson, the chair of the Baffin Regional Health and Social Services Board. is saying that may not be enough.

That $25 million includes paying consultants and architects and providing materials, labour and furnishings. Hospital equipment is also included in that figure, but Patterson said “that’s negotiable.”

“We’re concerned $25 million isn’t enough,” he told Iqaluit Town Council earlier this month.

QC will finance the project, including purchasing any medical equipment that’s required. However, the health board will decide what needs to be purchased, and what equipment can be carried over from the existing hospital.

“It hinges on the study that’s being done by the health board,” Ell said.

Three potential sites for the new hospital have been identified. Two are located on either side of the existing hospital, making recovery of waste energy from the nearby NTPC power plant more accessible.

Officials from the federal government and the GNWT are still negotiating how Ottawa will pay for the hospital project.

The federal government committed to paying for a replacement hospital for Baffin when responsibility for health was transferred to the NWT in 1988.

GNWT Health Minister Kelvin Ng told MLAs in the legislative assembly last week an agreement in principle with Ottawa could be worked out within the next 30-60 days “that could guide us toward concluding this issue.”

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