Nova Scotia Health CEO promises update on delay in Halifax Infirmary redevelopment

Work at the Halifax Infirmary has so far included a new pedway linking the hospital and a new parking garage and renovations to the entrances on Summer Street and Robie Street. (Michael Gorman/CBC - image credit)
Work at the Halifax Infirmary has so far included a new pedway linking the hospital and a new parking garage and renovations to the entrances on Summer Street and Robie Street. (Michael Gorman/CBC - image credit)

The interim CEO of Nova Scotia Health is trying to reassure staff about the future of health-care delivery in the province after redevelopment of the Halifax Infirmary was indefinitely paused last week.

Karen Oldfield sent the memo, obtained by CBC News, on Wednesday.

"Please be assured that in the coming weeks we will be providing additional details that I am confident will help to address any concerns you may have about the future direction of healthcare in this province," Oldfield writes.

The memo comes after the lone bidder on the Halifax Infirmary project missed a deadline to submit financial details for the work and Premier Tim Houston said he did not know when a submission could come.

"I want to assure you that we are working diligently with our partners to resolve a number of highly complex issues, including significant labour shortages, supply chain issues and rising inflation," Oldfield writes.

"Nonetheless, the government is committed to building modern, well-planned and well-functioning hospital facilities to meet the current and future needs of both patients and providers."

Dave Laughlin/CBC
Dave Laughlin/CBC

A spokesperson for the health authority confirmed that the update Oldfield refers to in the memo is related to project details and the tender itself. The information will also be made public.

The redevelopment of the Halifax Infirmary is the largest component of the QEII Health Sciences Centre New Generation project. That work also includes a new outpatient centre in Bayers Lake and the expansion of the Dartmouth General Hospital and Hants Community Hospital in Windsor.

Although those projects are all complete or nearing completion, the infirmary work has yet to break ground.

In an interview Thursday, Internal Services Minister Colton LeBlanc, the minister responsible for major health-care infrastructure projects, said he hadn't seen Oldfield's memo.

Pat Callaghan/CBC
Pat Callaghan/CBC

The New Generation project is intended to clear the way to close and demolish some of the buildings at the aging Victoria General Hospital. With growing uncertainty around the infirmary redevelopment, work started this week to upgrade the water system at the VG so patients can safely shower. Repairs are also planned for the ailing air conditioning system that is prone to failure in summer months.

LeBlanc said government officials "would continue to look at other options that need to be taken" to meet clinical service needs as officials work through the delays with the tender process.

Given the size and scope of the redevelopment project, the minister said what is important is that things are done right. The government continues to work with the lone bidder, Plenary PCL, to overcome the challenges that led to the consortium missing the submission deadline last week, he said.

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