Victoria General Hospital replacement plans include demolition in 2022

The Nova Scotia government plans to move services out of the aging parts of the Victoria General Hospital and demolish two of the buildings, Premier Stephen McNeil said Thursday.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says project is building a hospital system 'for the next 50 years'

The Victoria General Hospital site in Halifax has been experiencing problems for years. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

The Nova Scotia government plans to move services out of the aging parts of the Victoria General Hospital site and demolish two of the buildings, Premier Stephen McNeil said Thursday. 

"Right after becoming premier, the file of the VG came on my desk. While many see that as a problem, I see that as a real opportunity for our province. What you're seeing here today is the building on that opportunity," he said. 

"This gives us an opportunity to change the footprint of our health-care delivery model."

It's a plan without a cost estimate that will take between five and seven years to complete. The Victoria and Centennial buildings, which are part of the Victoria General site, will be demolished beginning in 2022, according to the plan. 

He said the province will be renovating the Dickson building at the VG site and expanding parts of it, including the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre. The government also launched a website to share the plans. 

McNeil promised to be "on time and on budget," but added there isn't yet a budget.

The NDP expressed skepticism. 

The key is moving existing services to other facilities — some of which currently exist and others that will need to be built.

They include the Dartmouth General Hospital, the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre, Hants Community Hospital, Halifax Residential Hospice and two outpatient centres, one for specialized services and the other for community-based care.

Officials will look at what services need to be downtown, and which can go on the edge of Halifax for easier access for people living outside the city. McNeil said 40 per cent of people who use the hospital live outside of town.

A project for a generation

Some services now delivered at the Victoria and Centennial buildings will simply be incorporated into the Halifax Infirmary once space can be cleared by other departments moving out.

Specialized or highly complex procedures such as organ transplantation will be done at the Infirmary, for example.

McNeil said the government considered rebuilding the Victoria General facility, but that would be a case of "shame on us."

"This is not about the last 50 years, it's about the next 50 years and beyond," McNeil said.

When it released its budget this year, the Liberal government said it plans to spend nearly $3.7 million this year on designs for replacing the Victoria General Hospital, but no money has been committed for construction yet.

P3 a possibility

Randy Delorey, the finance minister, said none of today's plans feature in this week's budget. The government won't talk about the cost until designs are established. 

"Until we can know what the costs are going to be, we can't really allocate for it," he said. "And once we know the costs, we can account for them, but also we look at the different financing options at that time as well."

He said the surplus the government expects to run this year will go toward the province's debt. 

"We recognize it's building fiscal capacity so we can afford when we move forward," Delorey said. 

He said the province hasn't ruled out using a public-private partnership to fund the work. 

"We have to look at the financing options that are available to us. P3 financing are models, partnerships to move forward with large projects, is one form of moving foward."

The Victoria and Centennial buildings will be demolished in the next four years, according to the plan. (Robert Short/CBC)

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the Victoria and Centennial buildings will be demolished in 2020. In fact, demolition is scheduled to begin in 2022.
    Apr 21, 2016 12:38 PM AT

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

With files from the CBC's Jon Tattrie

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.