Corner Brook hospital will be built, Marshall vows

Finance Minister Tom Marshall pledges to a hometown crowd that a long-promised hospital for Corner Brook is on the horizon.
Finance Minister Tom Marshall has dismissed criticism that the Newfoundland and Labrador government is no longer committed to a new hospital for Corner Brook. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Tom Marshall pledged to a hometown crowd that a long-promised hospital for Corner Brook is on the horizon.

"I'm not retiring until I see steel up at that hospital and I want to retire soon," Marshall told the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade during a speech Friday.

The new complex — which will replace the aging Western Memorial Regional Hospital — has been on the books since 2007, with government making a splashy announcement in 2009. The project had been a priority for former premier Danny Williams, who had represented the Corner Brook-area district of Humber West.

But this year's budget puts just $1 million towards the overall $750 million project, sparking debate about whether construction is being pushed back or even shelved.

Marshall, who brought down a budget on Tuesday that promised a decade of belt-tightening as Newfoundland and Labrador prepares to lower its debt, dismissed suggestions that government does not have the money to finish the hospital.

"That's one of the stupidest things I've heard in a long time," said Marshall, who is the MHA for the district of Humber East.

"We are flush with cash. Our financial position is the strongest it's ever been."

The hospital is expected to be finished in 2018.

Marshall said the government will increase the amount of money it spends on developing the hospital in the years ahead.

With files from Jeremy Eaton