Finance minister Michael Miltenberger confirmed on Tuesday that plans to upgrade Yellowknife’s hospital facilities have changed.
As first reported last week, a public-private partnership will now construct an entirely new hospital – rather than extensively redeveloping the existing Stanton Territorial Hospital as previously announced.
On Tuesday, Miltenberger suggested the cost has increased to $350 million from earlier estimates of around $300 million.
As members of the legislative assembly reconvened for the final time prior to November’s territorial election, the minister gave brief answers to questions from MLAs – several of whom seemed blindsided by the hospital announcement.
Wendy Bisaro asked why some MLAs were learning of important changes to hospital plans through the media, rather than through direct contact from cabinet members. Bob Bromley protested at being equally uninformed.
“It’s a $350 million project that’s going to proceed. It’s going to come in on budget and on time,” said Miltenberger, suggesting he would provide more detail behind closed doors following Tuesday’s public discussion.
“It’s going to be for a new hospital, with the old hospital being designated for some other use in the coming years.”
Boreal Health Partnership signed a deal last week to design, build, finance and maintain the new facility. In announcing that deal, the territorial government made no reference to the redevelopment’s fundamentally altered premise.
The territory has still to publicly address why and when its plans for the hospital changed.
‘Breach of process’
Earlier, Miltenberger and Premier Bob McLeod faced criticism from Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny for their announcement of a $30 million power subsidy at the start of September.
At the time, Miltenberger and McLeod told reporters the territorial government would spend the money to cover excess diesel costs until June 2016, sparing residents a rate hike.
On Tuesday, Dolynny argued they had presented the deal as a fait accompli when it still requires approval from the assembly.
Dolynny asked Speaker Jackie Jacobson to consider whether cabinet members had breached privilege and shown contempt, in what he and several other MLAs termed a “breach of due process”.
Miltenberger, in response, said the government was obliged to act “in a timely way” to head off the emerging crisis.