Premier Clark’s St. Paul’s Hospital announcement

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This morning, Wednesday June 13, 2012, Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Health Mike de Jong announced their government’s commitment to the renewal St. Paul’s Hospital on the Burrard St. site.

In the Premier’s statement she announced her government’s commitment to Providence Health Care’s (PHC) concept plan that was presented at a WERA community forum back in 2010. Ms. Clark stated that the more detailed work of planning the renewed hospital could go forward without stating the establishment of a business case, a project board, or the allocation of a dollar amount in the budget.

After this announcement the media the media immediately grilled the premier noting that she was just announcing work that had already been done by PHC back in 2010 and that there were no dollars attached to her announcement. But in surprising moment the Premier stated that she had a “firm, absolute, commitment” to the renewal of St. Paul’s Hospital. When further pressed she stated that there was a business case with government and that $500 million had been allocated in the 2012 budget and the detailed planning would be done by 2014.

This is all good news for St. Paul’s Hospital. Timing is slow and the “firm, absolute, commitment” to the hospital is long overdue, but the statement was clear that PHC should start the detailed planning for the hospital’s renewal.

The most confusing and troubling part of the announcement was when the Premier stated that there was a business case before the Treasury Board and this was something that the Minister of Health has denied. In research done by Extra West reporter Jeremy Hainsworth from Hansard at the BC Legislature on May 15, 2012 the Minister of Health is recorded as saying;

“We now have a concept plan and have had since last year, and say that there is a strong desire to move forward with this. The next stage would be the commissioning of the business case.

When the decision is made and the announcement is made to move forward with the business case and the expenditure of that $5 million or $6 million, I believe that represents the beginning of the redevelopment project.”

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The questions that need to be clarified as we move forward are:
– Is there a business case before the government?
– If a business case needs to be done where will the dollars come from?
– When will a project board be established?
– Will the whole project be a “P3” and have go through Partnership BC?

Good news today, but there are some serious hurdles that need to be cleared before the Downtown Peninsula has a renewed and seismically safe hospital.

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