Children's Hospital design on hold, may be too small: Health Minister

Designs for a new Children's Hospital in Saskatoon are now on hold over concerns the new facility may be too small.

Maternity wing may not have enough space

The Children's Hospital of Saskatchewan is being built in Saskatoon next to the Royal University Hospital. Construction is set to begin in 2014. (Saskatoon Health Region)

Designs for a new Children's Hospital in Saskatoon are now on hold over concerns the new facility may be too small.

Dustin Duncan, Saskatchewan's Minister of Health, said Wednesday it's possible there are not enough beds in the building, currently budgeted at $230 million and expected to open in 2017. He said the maternity wing may not have enough room.

According to Duncan, the current design was based on population projections, prepared by his officials, from five years ago.

"They projected growth but just not to the extent we're [now] predicting over the next 20 years," Duncan told reporters at the legislature.

In response to questions from members of the Opposition, in a committee meeting of the legislature on April 10, Duncan said the Children's Hospital was initially expected to have a total of 152 beds, with 56 of those dedicated to a maternity wing.

He said concerns about the size of the facility arose in 2013.

On Wednesday, NDP Opposition leader Cam Broten, said he is concerned a new design for a larger facility could lead to added expense.

"How much more is this going to cost, as opposed to properly designing the hospital in the first place and listening to what is needed?" Broten asked. "What are the time lines involved? What can Saskatchewan people expect?"

Duncan said he will announce, in a few weeks, whether or not more beds will be added to the design. He noted a change will add millions of dollars to the cost.

The latest development follows an announcement, in 2012, when Duncan unveiled design details for the facility.

With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger


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