The new health centres to be constructed in New Waterford and North Sydney as part of the Cape Breton health-care redevelopment will be through traditional builds rather than public-private partnerships as previously announced.
Paul LaFleche, deputy minister for Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, said that is the approach the province decided to go with during a discussion on P-3 developments in Halifax on Tuesday.
“We initially thought, we mused — never a good thing to do in the media — we mused about doing P-3s for some of the Cape Breton expansion or build and after getting down to look at the details of those projects, the scale of them, we asked ourselves a lot of questions … we then decided we would not do P-3s in Cape Breton,” LeFleche said.
The province issued a news release in April announcing that the new centres would be built through P-3s, with Minister Lloyd Hines telling reporters at the time that, “it sort of guarantees budget and time.”
At that time, the department indicated a consulting firm would be hired in the coming weeks to lead the P-3 process, similar to the QEII New Generation project in Halifax, to ensure government was ready to go to tender as quickly as possible once the planning of the facilities was complete.
In an emailed statement, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal spokesperson Marla MacInnis wrote that the New Waterford and North Sydney projects are important components of the CBRM health-care redevelopment project and the department wishes to move forward with them as soon as possible.
“Throughout our work on this project, we determined that a traditional build was more appropriate for this important project,” MacInnis wrote. “We reviewed all the options and have significant resources working on three major P3 projects — including the largest project in Nova Scotia’s history, the QEII New Generation Project.
“The department feels a traditional approach is the best option to get work started quicker in Cape Breton.”
In April, Hines said that analysis the province has done in recent years has demonstrated “better value for money proposition” with the P-3 process. He said in an interview at that time that there was a high degree of complexity to the projects due to the medical infrastructure involved.
It was previously confirmed that the redevelopment of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital site in Sydney would be completed via a traditional build.
Tammy Martin, MLA for Cape Breton Centre and NDP health critic, had been critical of the announcement to go with public-private partnership for the projects and was pleased to hear of the about-face. She has said she believes traditional builds offer better value for money and proceed more swiftly.
“I’m so happy that the government has realized that a traditional build is the way to go,” she said in an interview. “However, I wish that when they make decisions about Cape Breton that they would actually come to Cape Breton and talk to Cape Bretoners and make these announcements in Cape Breton.”
Martin said the decision to go with a traditional build process was also worthy of an official government news release, as was the April announcement that it would be P-3.
“How would we have known if they hadn’t been at this meeting?” Martin said. “It’s just the government disrespecting Cape Breton and the process.”
She added the new facilities, the services they will provide and the jobs associated with them are important to Cape Bretoners.
It was another Liberal provincial government that went through a P-3 process for the construction of numerous schools, and the province in recent years has reached agreements to take on ownership of them as the leases neared their end.