UCP government to fund 20% of costs for Calgary NICU expansion

The UCP recently announced nearly $150 million for 5 capital projects related to health care over the next 3 years.

As part of the new 2021–2022 provincial budget revealed by the Alberta government last month, Tyler Shandro announced $143 million in funding for 5 capital projects related to health care.

The largest project would see $22.6 million spent on expanding the neonatal intensive care unit at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. The expansion would add 19 more beds to the unit, which is often at 90% capacity.

The funding will be split over 3 years, with $5.1 million this budget year, $11 million next year, and $6.5 million in the third year. However, this will cover only about 20% of the total $83 million cost of the project. The remaining $66 million will be raised by the Calgary Health Foundation.

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The provincial government also plans to provide $18.6 million to help construct a new cyclotron facility in Calgary. This will be the first radiopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the southern portion of the province, with one being built at the University of Alberta at the turn of the century. The new facility will also be at the Foothills location.

As with the NICU project, funding for the cyclotron will be split over 3 years: $2.3 million this year, $8.3 million next year, and $8 million in the final year.

A 2017 report from Alberta Health Services projected a total cost of a cyclotron facility to be $36.3 million. It’s not clear whether this means the project has been reduced in scope from the first proposal or other entities will be covering the remaining funding requirements.

In the northern Alberta community of La Crete, the provincial government plans to spend $34.7 million on a new maternal and community health centre. This will increase the space available for primary and ambulatory care, maternal health care, mental health care, and diagnostic services.

The current facility was built in 2000.

The final capital project rounding out the combined $143 million in capital spending is $8 million to demolish the old High Prairie Health Complex and to do some earthmoving and site prep to make the property suitable for development for an undetermined project at some undetermined point in the future. The facility was replaced by a new one in 2017.

The UCP government expects the demolition and site prep to take 3 years, so they’ve allocated $2.5 million towards the project this year, $5 million next year, and $500,000 in the final year.

Total capital spending on health-related projects—including a new $400-million hospital in Edmonton—could pass $3.4 billion over the next 3 years, according to the budget, so we’ll likely hear more announcements like this one in the future.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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