Mould underlines government’s ill health

In the territory, there is a shortage of extended-care beds for old people. Many occupy hospital beds because there’s no other place to put…

In the territory, there is a shortage of extended-care beds for old people.

Many occupy hospital beds because there’s no other place to put them.

Nearby, the Thomson Centre sits empty.

It was supposed to open this month. That was Brad Cathers’ promise just before the last election.

It hasn’t happened, and it probably won’t. At least not in the next year, or possibly longer.

There’s black mould in the facility.

Why?

Cathers blames the NDP government of Tony Penikett — defeated in 1992 — which built the complex.

That’s simply bizarre.

True, the complex’s construction was bungled out of the gates. The roof leaked, and government inspectors failed to detect the problem.

The contractor couldn’t be sued. He’d died.

So the government had to fix the problem.

Its property management slapped a new roof on the facility in 2002-2003.

The contract allowed the work to be billed by the hour, a highly unusual practice.

Not surprisingly, the roof cost the government an extraordinary amount of money — $1.46 million.

And the work wasn’t done properly.

Water seeped into the facility. Mould blossomed again.

The facility remains closed.

Cathers can’t say when it will open.

He can’t say how much it will cost to fix this latest debacle.

There are office workers in the place.

Nobody has explained why they weren’t told about the mould problem. They learned about the possibly dangerous infestation from the media.

They have worked in the area for years.

The mould is only a problem for fragile people, and it’s not near staffers, said Cathers.

However, the government has not yet hired a mould expert to assess the problem.

The mould was discovered five months ago.

The whole affair raises serious questions about government’s competency executing capital projects, evaluating the finished work, monitoring its facilities and protecting employees once a hazard is found.

In a report tabled in February, federal auditor general Sheila Fraser noted Highways — the department responsible for property management — often breaks its own rules, makes costly decisions without analysis, spends more money and time to build than it anticipates, forgoes reviews of projects when they’re completed, and uses an agency to maintain property that swallows a staggering amount of money.

That’s pretty general.

If you’re wondering how that affects you, look to the Thomson Centre where, after several attempts, property management still can’t get a roof right, even after spending millions.

Where office workers are plunked in a sophisticated seniors’ home — a health facility — and aren’t told about a nasty health hazard in the place.

An $11.9 million facility is almost empty while, less than 200 metres away, infirm seniors take up hospital space ill-suited to their needs.

And Cathers lays the blame on a government defeated 15 years ago.

Astounding. (RM)

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