(Quebec) The Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital (HMR) expansion and modernization project is being carried out “in stages,” says Minister Christian Dubé, who promises to provide “the necessary funds” for a next phase.
Updated yesterday at 5:02pm.
La Presse announced on Friday that the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal had to slim down its expansion project to meet the 2.5 billion budget provided by Quebec.
A financial analysis by Société Québécoise des Infrastructures recently concluded that the original project of adding 720 new beds in a new pavilion would instead cost 4.2 billion due to overheating in the construction industry.
Reliable sources have confirmed that the facility had received a notice that it had to submit a project that respected funding provided by the Legault government. Result: Management is currently analyzing a less ambitious expansion project and is now planning to refurbish the most dilapidated part of HMR, the main building in a cross, the Cruciform. A scenario that causes an uproar on the inside.
On Friday, in response to La Presse’s revelations, the health minister reiterated that it was “completely wrong to say that HMR’s expansion will be limited”.
“We have already provided 2.5 [milliards] on the table to get to work as soon as possible. We will add the necessary sums to provide 720 beds as planned,” he said on Twitter, without specifying how many and when.
The option we wanted to avoid
At the beginning of the afternoon he made it clear again: The expansion and modernization project will be carried out “in stages”.
Precisely the “step by step” approach forces the establishment to submit a smaller project and to keep spaces in the shape of a cross, an option that we wanted to avoid due to the poor condition of the building.
According to our information, the CIUSSS has advocated the realization of the project in a single phase, asking Quebec to immediately release 4.2 billion.
“I’ll be very clear… We’ll do it step by step[s] and we will renovate the hospital and there will be the extra rooms that we are committed to [à construire] ‘ the minister tweeted, echoing his remarks from an interview with Radio-Canada on Friday. Our request for an interview with the minister on this subject was turned down.
In order to meet the 2.5 billion mark, the CIUSSS will not be able to add 720 new beds in a brand new pavilion, but at best 150 to 320. This means that we would support the refurbishment of more than 400 beds in the cross shape. which currently has 455. We would then focus on a second phase of work to add additional beds if needed and complete the modernization.
The project is still in the planning phase.
Runaway inflation and overheating in the construction industry, compounded by economic uncertainty linked to the pandemic, are affecting the cost of the Legault government’s infrastructure projects. Last May, Quebec notably reviewed the budget for construction of retirement homes, a flagship CAQ electoral commitment, increasing it from $2.36 billion to $2.79 billion.
worries for the future
The scenario in two or more phases worries internally, while East Montreal has been waiting for its expansion project for ages.
The head of HMR’s intensive care unit, Dr. François Marquis, believes that “to put everyone’s mind at ease, we should stick to phase 2 now instead of putting it into an uncertain future”. He said he recognized in the La Presse report the scenario that management presented to doctors last fall.
Although he advocates a quick start on the project, even if it is “imperfect,” Dr. Marquis concerned about the renovation of the Cross and cannot understand why we are in favor of its renovation if it is long-term ., rescheduling rooms during a possible second phase.
“Personally, I think it’s a bad use of budgets […] We know it [depuis la pandémie] that we cannot control an infection in the sacrum,” he adds.
You can’t stick your head in the sand. That means we will renovate 400 rooms, knowing that they will never fulfill the function of a modern hospital room. This is disturbing!
dr François Marquis, Head of the Intensive Care Unit at the HMR
“There are limits to making something new out of something old,” lamented Vincent Marissal, Solidarity MP. He accuses the Legault government of wanting to “save money” with a major infrastructure project.
“We have reached a point where we will stop launching tweets and press lines with the Minister. We’re fed up with the press lines in the East, we want a plan. A plan means schedules, it also means an architect’s plan on architect’s paper,” continued Mr. Marissal.
The liberal member of parliament and health critic André Fortin also regretted that the project would not be carried out in one phase.
“The staff at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital are rightly concerned about Minister Dubé’s idea of proceeding in two phases. There is no evidence that costs would decrease as a result. On the contrary, the longer the government waits, the higher the bill is likely to be,” he denounced.
PQ MP for Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Joël Arseneau, believes Minister Christian Dubé is “playing with words” on the project. “Let us not be fooled: since the minister does not now increase the budget for the expansion of the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital, he is postponing this important project indefinitely,” he said.