New plan for Montreal super-hospital

Quebec government kicking in $800 million each for super-hospitals to serve French and English communities.

Planners designing Montreal's new English-language super-hospital have unveiled yet another blueprint for the $1.2-billion project.

The latest version of the McGill University Health Centre plan would see hospitals operating at two sites. One is to be built at the Glen railway yards in the west end of the city, the other will operate from the current Montreal General Hospital site downtown.

Oncology, paediatrics, cardiac and other acute specialized care services will largely be centred at the Glen yards site, while geriatrics, palliative care and psychological care will be handled at the Montreal General.

The Montreal Neurological Institute will remain open as a scaled-back research facility. Three other local hospitals will be converted to other uses.

The new plan for the research and teaching hospital takes into account provincial Health Minister Philippe Couillard's demand that an emergency room remain open in the downtown area.

The super-hospital originally was scheduled to be open by 2005, but that's been pushed back to the end of 2008, partly because Premier Jean Charest has said the provincial government will contribute only $800 million. McGill will have to launch a financing campaign to raise the rest of the money.

Meanwhile, a French super-hospital spearheaded by the University of Montreal will cost about $1.25 billion to build. The province will kick in another $800 million to build the Centre hospitalier de l'universit de Montral.

Couillard has named former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former Quebec premier Daniel Johnson as overseers of the super-hospital project. They co-chair a government technical committee whose job is to examine the plans for both facilities.

Mulroney and Johnson must report back to the provincial government by Feb. 27.