Canadian Consulting Engineer

Private sector takes charge of huge hospital construction projects

The first hospitals to be built and operated in Ontario under public-private partnership "P3" arrangements are pois...

September 19, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The first hospitals to be built and operated in Ontario under public-private partnership “P3” arrangements are poised to become reality. The same consortium has won the contract for both large projects.
News has leaked out that the Healthcare Infrastructure Group will be building and designing the $100-million new Royal Ottawa Hospital, though the contract is still being finalized.
The Healthcare Infrastructure Group includes Ellis Don Construction and Parkin and Adamson Associates Architects. There is no word yet which consulting engineers are involved. SNC-Lavalin was in a competing consortium that failed to obtain the contract.
The 400,000-s.f. Ottawa hospital will replace the existing hospital which was built in 1910 as a tuberculosis sanitorium. The new building will be “bright and airy” with an atrium, and 188 beds.
The Healthcare Infrastructure Group was also chosen by the Ontario government for the $350-million William Osler Health Care Centre in Brampton, northwest of Toronto, which is starting construction. The consortium is designing, constructing and financing the Brampton project, and will recover its costs by leasing out the building to the hospital. It will also provide ongoing buidling maintenance and provide services such as laundry, food, and security. The facility will have 608 acute-care beds, 18 operating rooms, and 1,500 staff.
Unions and others oppose the public-private partnership arrangements, saying they will end up costing the taxpayers money for reasons such as that private companies are out to make a profit, and that private owners must pay more for financing. However, the P3 advocates point out that historically public facilities built by governments have been expensive and often delayed, whereas the private sector can build more efficiently. They also say outsourcing building services leaves the hospital free to concentrate on medical issues. Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty has suggested his party would cancel the public-private partnerships if they succeed in the next election.
At least one other province — British Columbia — is in the throes of organizing P3 contracts to build health care facilities. A competition is under way for the $210-million Abbotsford Hospital and Cancer Centre project in the Fraser Valley. Four consortia have been invited to submit proposals. Players include PCL, Bouygues Batiment, Stuart Olson Constructors, Aecon Group and EllisDon (again as part of the Healthcare Infrastructure Company). Another competition is being held for the $90 million Academic Amubulatory Care Centre on the Vancouver General Hospital site.


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