Nfld. & Labrador

New Corner Brook long-term care facility will open by 2018: Steve Kent

The minister of health says western Newfoundland stands to have a new long-term care facility sooner — if the government turns it over to the private sector.
Health Minister Steve Kent says there will be no compromise of care now that private companies will be building and running four new long-term care facilities in the province. (CBC)

The minister of health says western Newfoundland stands to have a new long-term care facility sooner — if the government turns it over to the private sector.

On Thursday, Steve Kent told CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show that private operators should have a facility in Corner Brook up and running about two years after winning a bid.

Kent and Premier Paul Davis made a pre-budget announcement on Tuesday, announcing four new privately-built long-term care facilities in the province which will include one in the new hospital complex in Corner Brook.

Kent said allowing private companies to build the new centre will mean it will be operational faster than if government was doing it.

"The private sector people we've consulted with feel they can get the facility built in approximately two years," he said.

"It will be built about a year earlier, and let's face it, the people on the west coast have been waiting too long for the new west coast hospital."

Should be ready by 2018

Kent said the timeline for the new west coast long-term care centre to be built depends on when the contracts are finalized, but he expects the facility should be ready in the next two or three years.

A map showing the location of the new hospital complex in Corner Brook. (Google Maps)

"We plan to have contracts awarded this fall, so it's quite conceivable, quite likely almost guaranteed, that the new facility would be in operation in the fiscal year 2017-18," he said. 

"Under our previous plan, if we stayed on the track we've been on, going the traditional route — the new long-term facility in Corner Brook was slated to be ready for 2019."

Kent said private companies can build and operate more efficiently than a government can, because they have fewer constraints and are driven by the bottom line.

"Private sector can built it faster, they can build it cheaper," he said.

"They're driven to be competitive and focused on their bottom line."

Kent said while the process of awarding the contracts to private builders might delay the start of construction, overall, the private route will mean the facility will be up and running faster.

"A few months delay on the front end means we'll be open a year earlier," he said.

"So overall, that's definitely good news for the health care system, and I would think the people on the west coast."

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