Saskatchewan

Roof replacement for new $400M North Battleford hospital 'ridiculous,' says Sask. NDP

The NDP calls a required roof replacement at the brand new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford “ridiculous.” The $407-million hospital has been plagued by construction issues and delays. The latest is a leaky roof which requires a complete replacement.

Leaky roof the latest in a string of setbacks for SHNB

The Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford needs a new roof, less than 75 days after opening. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling a required roof replacement at the brand new Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford "ridiculous."

The $407-million hospital has been plagued by construction issues and delays. The latest is a leaky roof which requires a complete replacement.

On Wednesday, the province announced that modular roofing panels had shrunk due to spring melt. The shrinkage created gaps in the roof.

"The deepest concern is about how this multi-million dollar project was handled,"  said NDP health critic Vicki Mowat. "We've seen a number of issues with the physical makeup of the building. I think that is because the government decided on a P3 model."

There is no word on when the replacement work will start or how long it will last.

Government, NDP disagree on P3 model

The hospital is a public-private partnership (P3) project and was the most expensive mental health services project in the history of the province.

Minister of Health Jim Reiter said the P3 model is protecting taxpayers from the roof replacement.

"There's no financial risk to the government. I think using the model that we did clearly paid off," Reiter said on Wednesday.

Under the P3 model, the province spent $407 million on the hospital. That included the cost of design, construction, finance and more than 30 years of maintenance to ensure it remains in like-new condition. Graham Capital Partners is the owner of the Access Prairie Partnerships, which is comprised of six partners. It values its contract with the government at $245.7 million.

"We're locked into a 30-year contract where Saskatchewan people must shell out millions per year on maintenance alone. With that in mind, as well as all these costly delays, it's clear the Sask. Party didn't put people first when building this project," Mowat said.

"The lack of transparency around [P3 projects] all because of some notion of protecting the private interests is very concerning to me."

Mowat said she is also concerned about the impact the roof replacement will have on patients, staff and families.

Builder's response

CBC received an emailed staement from Graham Capital Partners.

"APP has determined that a product failure occurred with the component serving as the vapour barrier of the roofing system installed on the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford," the statement said.

"This is not a failure of the roof membrane and upon the repair of some unrelated leaks this spring, the roof membrane is performing as expected.

"APP, in accordance with the advice of its consultants, has determined that removal of the compromised product and replacement with an alternate is the appropriate solution to the problem. As part of this corrective process salvage of the existing roof membrane is unlikely."

On March 8, the hospital opened to much fanfare. It replaced the province's first mental hospital, Saskatchewan Hospital, which opened in North Battleford in 1914.

The new facility has 284 official beds — 188 psychiatric rehabilitation beds and a separate secure wing with 96 beds for offenders living with mental health issues.

More shrinkage, delays, partners fined

Getting to an official opening took longer than expected and came at a cost to the developer.

Construction started on the new hospital in September 2015, with a scheduled completion of spring 2018.

The first major hiccup happened in October 2017, when crews were forced to tear down exterior bricks and cladding to remove and replace faulty insulation in the walls.

At the time, a spokesperson for SaskBuilds said the contractor had found "shrinkage" issues. The problem with the insulation was discovered after cladding, masonry and brickwork had been done. 

In Jan. 2018, Carillion PLC went into liquidation. The Canadian arm of the British company had the contract to maintain the hospital for the next 30 years. APP was tasked with finding a replacement. One year later, SNC-Lavalin was chosen to take over for Carillion as the facility manager.

The government said the change had no effect on the project.

The Ministry of Central Services said Thursday, "maintenance and rehabilitation costs for Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford will vary from year to year. Over the life of the contract, the total cost is estimated at $72.3 million."

In March 2018, the government said APP expected a two-to three-month delay due to a subcontractor not being able to deliver according to the schedule. It announced it was penalizing APP $1.25 million per month for failing to meet its completion target of June 1, 2018. According to the government, APP forfeited $3.9M in service payments, plus $484,000 ($5,000 per day) for the government's delay-related expenses.

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 12 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

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