Nfld. & Labrador

New Corner Brook hospital, long-term care facility could be built better, says health minister

Health Minister John Haggie says efficiencies and savings could be found by combining the construction of a long-term care facility and new hospital in Corner Brook.

'This facility does need to be built soon, but it needs to be the right one,' says John Haggie

Health Minister John Haggie says there's more that can be done to make the construction of two health facilities in Corner Brook more efficient and cost effective. (CBC)

Health Minister John Haggie says more can be done to make the construction of a new long-term care facility and a new hospital in Corner Brook faster and more efficient.

Haggie said the current request for proposals only includes the new long-term care facility, adding he's afraid the focus of the request is limiting other possibilities.

"There has been a body of work done around certain elements of long-term care in Corner Brook, but, quite frankly, my concern is that this is very narrow and we're cutting down our opportunities to do things better, and just as speedily," he told CBC's Corner Brook Morning Show Monday.

Haggie said he has asked officials to explore building both the facilities at the same time.

We're cutting down our opportunities to do things better, and just as speedily.- John Haggie

"This RFP (request for proposals) deals solely with the long-term care issue, it doesn't address the larger picture of the Western Memorial, and its replacement," he said. 

"That too is something that I want to seek guidance on from my colleagues in cabinet on, because I'm not sure that there aren't some economies, some savings to be had by combining the two projects."

Haggie said requests for proposals have to be submitted before the Jan. 31 deadline and that the evaluation process has not yet been completed, but all options are on the table.

It is also important, he said, to determine exactly what is needed and strike a balance between providing long-term care beds and acute care services on the west coast, as both are needed.

No funds allocated

Despite the $42 million that has already been spent on the new hospital, Haggie said no funds had been allocated by the previous government in the 2016 budget to advance progress on the hospital.

"It surprises me that you could, as a government, expect to get something for nothing," he said.

Haggie said that Corner Brook is in need of both a new long-term care facility and a new hospital, but it's important the facilities properly fit the needs of the area.

"This facility does need to be built soon, but it needs to be the right one, and I think the only way you're going to do that is to make sure that you actually know what you're buying and buy the right thing," he said.

"I'm not convinced we have the information yet from the work that's been done to answer that question properly."

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