Just a question…
Does anyone in the territory buy Highways and Public Works Minister Archie Lang’s assertion the Watson Lake health centre is not over budget?
A couple of years ago, the government sole-sourced the $5-million construction project.
Today, the project is incomplete.
So far, the government has spent $4.8 million on the half-constructed shell.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Lang in response to questions from Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell.
“We are not over budget on the facility.”
That’s a brassy assertion.
The bungled project in Premier Dennis Fentie’s riding is such a puzzler that the government doesn’t really know how to fix it.
There were two phases to the initial plan.
One, build the new multi-level health centre.
Two, renovate the existing hospital in Watson Lake.
Except, the existing hospital is, according to the government’s own information, “not optimal for delivering modern health-care services.”
And the unfinished $4.8-million health facility — the one now being expanded to a full-blown hospital — lacks many of the structural requirements such a facility needs.
The existing elevator shafts are too small.
The existing layout isn’t meant to be a hospital — the framed-in walls, doorways and rooms aren’t right.
The main floor is so high above street level, it poses a problem for ambulance and public access.
The list goes on. There are at least 12 other major deficiencies in the partially built structure.
And, did we mention it has gone mouldy?
The territory’s politicians budgeted $5 million for the building.
There’s just $200,000 left in the kitty.
Yet Lang insists the health-centre project is not over budget.
“We budgeted $5 million; we’re below that figure today, and we’re looking forward to having a hospital up and running in Watson Lake in the near future.”
It isn’t over budget because the government just keeps expanding the budget.
Now, it has morphed into a hospital. The government’s initial estimate of the cost is $25 million, sans beds, chairs, lamps, tables, gurneys, oxygen tanks, computers, sprinkler systems, sinks, art … all the stuff necessary to run a modern hospital.
Think about it.
This is a colossal expenditure of public money at a time of global fiscal crisis.
And cabinet members can’t even admit the project has gone off the rails.
Instead, they are just tossing good money after bad.
Unfortunately, this has become an all-too-common practice for the Fentie government.
They are not fooling anyone.
It’s time to reassess this hospital fiasco and end the madness before more money is wasted. (Richard Mostyn)