Nova Scotia

Inflation, commodity prices cause spike in Cape Breton cancer centre costs

Mounting costs in the construction industry have blown a hole in the Nova Scotia government’s budget this year for the new Cape Breton cancer centre.

Construction budget for this year more than doubles

The exterior of a large brick building.
The new cancer centre in Cape Breton will be twice the size of the existing site. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Mounting costs in the construction industry have blown a hole in the Nova Scotia government's budget this year for the new Cape Breton cancer centre.

Members of the provincial cabinet signed off on an order in council earlier this month authorizing an additional $41 million in spending for the project this year. That's on top of $39.4 million that was already set out in this year's provincial budget, pushing spending for the year north of $80 million.

"The construction industry is seeing significant cost escalation due to increasing inflation, commodity prices, and general labour costs, as well as supply chain issues," Public Works Department spokesperson Toby Koffman said in an email.

"The Cape Breton cancer centre project team has worked with contractors to find savings to offset those pressures and manage costs."

The cancer centre is slated to open in 2025. Along with doubling the footprint of the existing site and modernizing the offerings, it will mean fewer people having to make the trip to Halifax for treatments and services.

Cape Breton redevelopment

The work is part of a larger health-care infrastructure redevelopment plan on Cape Breton that includes new and expanded services in Glace Bay, New Waterford and North Sydney. The Cape Breton Regional Hospital is also getting an expanded emergency department and critical-care department, eight new operating rooms and 72 new in-patient beds.

The expected budget for all the Cape Breton work is about $1 billion.

"This project will improve access to care, create more reliable, sustainable services and modernize health-care facilities in Cape Breton which will improve the work environment and help with recruitment and retention of health professionals," said Koffman.

First announced by the former Liberal government in 2018, the work in Cape Breton is part of a major health-care infrastructure expansion and revitalization that's been happening across the province, with major projects also slated for and in various states of completion in Halifax Regional Municipality.

Premier Tim Houston announced a further expansion of those plans last December.



Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at