A Nova Scotia bureaucrat speaking to reporters during a background briefing Tuesday shed light on the province's plan to replace an aging hospital complex in Halifax.

The civil servant cannot be named since the briefing was not for attribution and was provided for background purposes only.

But in explaining why only $1.5 million has been set aside this year for planning the replacement of the problem-prone Centennial Building, he provided information others within government have been reluctant to share.

What CBC learned during the briefing:

  • The possibility some services will be moved from the VG site before the Centennial Building is permanently closed, with the exception of cancer treatment and surgeries.
  • Some services or programs might move into a renovated space at the Halifax Infirmary.
  • Services might be transferred to other locations within Halifax or even outside the city. 
  • The Centennial Building won't completely close until new facilities are ready or all services have found a new home.
  • The possibility some services currently offered at the VG will be delivered differently.
  • The Centennial Building will either be demolished or "repurposed" after it's vacated.

We might have learned more had the deputy minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Paul LaFleche, not intervened five minutes into the discussion to tell reporters we were moving well beyond the discussion at hand.

The briefing was to deal with the province's latest capital plan, which will see the province spend $480 million in 2016-2017 — $26.5 million of that is earmarked for hospitals. 

NDP reacts

Former health care minister and current NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald said she wonders why the Liberals are only planning to spend $1.5 million towards the VG's replacement.

"That needs to be job number one in a capital plan. This is a priority for Nova Scotians," she said. "That's a tertiary health care centre and it's a disgrace."

Finance Minister Randy Delorey said before the province can design and build a replacement hospital, it has to develop a plan and that is set to happen this year.

"The costs of getting it wrong are far too high. We need to ensure that appropriate planning goes into place," he said.

Health Minister Leo Glavine suggested last Thursday a VG update was imminent, but government officials now say a briefing will come "within weeks."