Saskatoon

Government knew of concerns about roof design of Saskatchewan Hospital: NDP

The NDP says it has documents showing concerns were raised early about the roof design at the new Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford.

Leaky roof at North Battleford hospital was caused by faulty insulation panels

The Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford has been plagued with issues since opening last March. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

The NDP released documents Tuesday showing that concerns had been raised about the roof design at the new Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford (SHNB) early in the construction process.

The $407-million hospital has been plagued by leaking water, first with defective insulation panels in the outside walls, then with a leaky roof also caused by faulty insulation panels.

The SHNB has also had issues with the building's drinking water system, which was deemed unsafe to drink due to high levels of lead or copper.

The documents the NDP released Tuesday were obtained via a freedom of information request for correspondence related to the water damage, roof leaks and structural concerns with the roof of the SHNB. 

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said Tuesday that documents received through SaskBuilds and the Saskatchewan Health Authority contained troubling information.

"[The contractor] just powered ahead with a roof that they wound up replacing which means sections of the facility did not open," Meili said. "It means patients not being able to access that space. It even meant some concerns about patient safety as there was fear of roof tiles actually falling in parts of the hospital that were being used."

Meili said the government needs to disclose why they opened the building despite the concerns about the roof.

Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili says the provincial government is more concerned with 'ribbon cutting ceremonies' than making sure buildings are built properly. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC news)

Access Prairies Partnership (APP) is responsible for building the hospital. It is a consortium led by Graham Design Builders.

A government document says testing revealed the roof leakage was caused by the modular insulation panels shrinking.

The government has said that APP shouldered the entire cost of fixing the walls and roof.

In October, a third-party construction audit of the Saskatchewan hospital project was triggered. 

The audit will review the quality of materials, equipment, labour and workmanship used during building. It's expected to be completed sometime in the spring.

Meanwhile, a process review will look at whether the project adhered to terms in the agreement and use those lessons to apply to future major projects.

SaskBuilds Minister Gordon Wyant said in a news release that the government is monitoring the situation at SHNB.

"In any build – be it P3 or traditional – the government does not select or approve individual materials for use during construction," Wyant said. 

"In the case of the SHNB the selection of products would have been up to APP and its subcontractors. We understand that in this instance, two different products were used but provided by the same manufacturer and the builder is seeking recovery from the supplier."

The release said the government raised the issue of faulty walls in the fall of 2017 and was told by APP there was "no issue with the roof, which was constructed at the same time but used different material." It said the roof failure wasn't identified until 2019.

Meili said issues surrounding the hospital and other major builds like the power plant in Swift Current and the Regina bypass show that public-private partnership (P3) projects aren't working.

He said it's time to stop building P3 projects and to change the procurement system so that local contractors are favoured.

"The vast majority of the major projects through this government have been done by out of province and out of country companies," Meili said.

Wyant said the P3 model is working in the case of the SHNB and has saved money for the taxpayer.

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