Manitoba

Multi-million dollar project at HSC delayed, over budget by $14M

The construction of a $61-million addition to Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre that began in 2011 is over a year away from completion and $14 million over budget, CBC News has learned.

Opposition NDP concerned after planned equipment for Diagnostic Centre of Excellence in limbo

The Diagnostic Centre of Excellence is now anticipated to be complete in 2019. Justin Fraser / CBC News

A $61-million addition to Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre is $14 million over budget and will wind-up completed five years after its original due date, CBC News has learned.

When the Diagnostic Centre of Excellence's construction was first announced in 2011, then-health minister Theresa Oswald hailed it as "an exciting new facility [that] will improve patient care and help reduce wait times for Manitobans." 

The project was estimated to be completed by 2014, but the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says a host of reasons have pushed its estimated completion date to 2019.

CBC News has also learned that planned equipment for the project, including a previously announced angiography suite and pediatric cardiac cath lab, are now in funding limbo and it's unclear if the provincial government is prepared to cover the additional costs.

'Unexpected delays'

A 2013 fire, delays in the construction of the Women's Hospital, and the complexity of integrating the new building with existing operational buildings added "unexpected delays and costs," to the project, according to Bronwyn Penner-Holigroski, a spokesperson for the WRHA.

The estimated cost ballooned to $75 million due to "unforeseen project issues" and costs for unfunded equipment.

In a written statement, Penner-Holigroski said the WRHA is working with Manitoba Health to "address the outstanding items we expect will take us over that [originally budgeted] amount."

She attributed some of the budget increase to the change to the PST. The fire and subsequent water damage added $2.4 million to the budget and the WRHA says a further $8 million is needed for unfunded equipment.

'We are suspicious and I think most Manitobans are suspicious."- NDP health Critic, Andrew Swan

CBC requested an interview with interim WRHA CEO and president Real Cloutier on the topic, but was told he was not available until next week.

An interview with Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen was not granted. A spokesperson for the minister said the WRHA has submitted information about the current status of the project, but offered little other details. 

"Any new or additional funding would have to pass through the standard budgetary approval process of government," Amy McGuinness said in a prepared statement. 

Planned equipment in limbo

The 91,000 sq. ft. diagnostic imaging centre was originally to house:

  • A pediatric MRI 
  • A pediatric CT scanner
  • Two pediatric digital radiography suites (general x-ray room)
  • several angiography suites
  • Shared adult/pediatric cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab)
  • Pediatric ultrasound, fluoroscopy and radiology imaging programs

The first level of the building is operational, with the MRI, CT and radiography suites opening in 2017.

The Diagnostic Centre of Excellence will be connected to the Women's Hospital. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

The previously announced brand new peripheral angiography suite — which captures images of peripheral arteries in the lower abdomen, kidneys, arms, legs and feet — is now in limbo. As are the specialized vascular and neuroangiography units. 

"[The] WRHA is working in collaboration with Manitoba Health to determine how best to continue to offer angiography services going forward and where that will take place," said Penner-Holigroski in a written statement.

A similar response was given when CBC asked about the status of the planned adult/pediatric cath lab. 

"[The] WRHA is working in collaboration with Manitoba Health to determine how best to continue to offer cardiac catheterization services throughout the region going forward," she said.

The wait for a non-urgent angiogram is 28 weeks.

'Different equipment'

McGuiness did not respond to questions about the future of these services at the centre.

Penner-Holigroski said some of the equipment and installation for the planned suites in levels two and three still has to go to tender. She did not specify what equipment will be in the suites, but said it would have "different equipment and design specifications than in the original tender."

Pediatric ultrasound, fluoroscopy and radiology imaging programs are set to open on the second level on Jan. 9.

The rooftop heliport used by air ambulances such as STARS opened in 2016.

Women's Hospital also delayed

The news comes on the heels of the WRHA's announcement that the Women's Hospital at HSC is also delayed.

It announced late last year the $232.9 million hospital for new mothers and women, expected to be completed in 2016, won't be up and running for another two years.

The Health Sciences Centre's new Women's Hospital remains under construction and won't be open to Manitoba patients until the fall of 2019. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

The new Women's Hospital is connected to the Diagnostic Centre, which is located on William Avenue.

Part of the hospital's delay in opening has been attributed to the same 2013 fire, which occurred at the Centre during its construction.

'We are suspicious'

The NDP's health critic, Andrew Swan, is unsure where things went awry with the timing of the project. Swan said, when his party was defeated in the 2016 election, the project was still on track to be completed by the end of the year.  

His concern is that, in an effort to find savings, the current government is forcing artificial delays and stalling on funding the purchase of new equipment. 

NDP Health Critic Andrew Swan says the Diagnostic Centre was on track to be completed in 2016 under his government. (CBC News )

"We are suspicious and I think most Manitobans are suspicious," Swan said. 

"Certainly we are concerned that equipment that could save the lives of children is now going to be put on the back burner because of this government's commitment to cutting costs."

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated, based on information provided by the WRHA, the project was over budget by $12 million. In fact, according to corrected information from the WRHA, the project is $14 million over budget and the total project is estimated to cost $75 million.
    Jan 05, 2018 3:12 PM CT

About the Author

Kristin Annable is a member of CBC's investigative unit based in Winnipeg. She can be reached at kristin.annable@cbc.ca