This tent has been used to treat pediatric patients with minor illnesses at the Stollery Children's Hospital since the spring. ((CBC))

The Alberta government will spend $23 million to expand emergency room facilities at Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, doing away with a temporary tent that has been used to treat patients with minor problems during periods of high demand.

Alberta Health Minister Ron Liepert announced the funding Thursday, which will also pay for renovations to the emergency department at the adjoining University Hospital.

The money will fund a new intake and triage area at the children's hospital, along with 23 new treatment spaces.

"When we are done, that [tent] is going to be gone," Liepert told reporters at a news conference at the Stollery Thursday. "All of this in a child-friendly environment designed to meet the needs of Alberta families."


Alberta Health Minister Ron Liepert announces $23 million in funding for renovations to the Stollery Children's Hospital and the University Hospital on Thursday. ((CBC))

The University of Alberta Hospital emergency room will get a facelift, along with four new treatment spaces and a new fast-track treatment area to handle less-serious cases more quickly.

Construction of the new facilities are not expected to start until next year, and take 15 months to complete.

The hospital will have to "get by" with overcrowding and longer wait times in the meantime, Craig said, calling it "short-term pain for long-term gain."

A spokesmen for the Stollery said the tent, which has not been used since the July long weekend, is expected to be taken down this fall.

The money for the renovations is coming from the province's 2008-2009 surplus, which is expected to surpass its projection of $1.6 billion because of higher oil prices, Liepert said.