The Parti Québécois government has unveiled a new multimillion-dollar hospital project in Quebec City, cancelling the former Liberal plan for the extensive renovation of the continent’s first ever hospital, L’Hôtel-Dieu. Instead, a modern hospital will be built at another location outside the historic fortified city.
Ms. Marois said the days of construction projects being mired in fraud, cost overruns and delays are over, pointing to the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) corruption scandal as an example of the former Liberal government’s careless management of public funds.
“If the former government had used common sense … the MUHC would not have found itself entangled in a corruption scandal. The former government was headed full speed into a wall and it was taking all of Quebec with it,” Ms. Marois said in a luncheon speech to local business leaders.
The projected cost for L’Hôtel-Dieu renovations had ballooned to more than $800-million, double the original estimate. The project was hampered by potentially costly archeological digs and delays. The new hospital will likely cost over a billion dollars but the final estimate won’t be known until June. The Premier said L’Hôtel-Dieu hospital will shrink and the leftover space will be used to relocate about 1,000 civil servants.
The PQ government noted there was no federal infrastructure money for the new Quebec City hospital or for several other key projects. These included rebuilding the more than $3-billion Turcot interchange in Montreal as well as the city’s two multimillion-dollar super-hospitals. Ottawa refused to fund the construction of a $400-million multifunctional sports arena in Quebec City.
Ms. Marois said the province will go it alone without federal assistance to fulfill its ambitions.
She said Quebec will spend an average of $9.5-billion a year in infrastructure projects compared the federal government’s “5-billion a year for all of Canada.”
She launched into a tirade against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government budget that proposes to take back control over job-training programs and eliminate the tax credit for labour-sponsored investment funds that will cost Quebec $300-million a year.
“The Conservatives aren’t putting in a cent more but they’ve decided to create a huge mess,” Ms. Marois said. “I want to be very clear: Quebec will not give up an inch of ground on the issue of job training.”
Creating a united front on that point may be more challenging than expected. On Tuesday, the opposition Liberals vetoed a PQ motion in the National Assembly that sought to denounce Ottawa’s job-training measure.