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Canada Alberta government threatens to end construction contract for Grande Prairie Regional Hospital

The Alberta government is threatening to cancel the contract of a construction firm building the problem-plagued Grande Prairie Regional Hospital.

Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen said Calgary-based Graham Construction has 15 days to submit a plan to get the project back on schedule or see the deal terminated.

She said the government no longer believes the $763-million hospital will be done this year, as per the latest agreement.

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On top of the delay, she said Graham Construction asked earlier this month for an extra $120-million on top of its existing $510-million contract.

“Our frustration is at this point that we don’t feel that we’ve been provided timely or accurate reporting, and we don’t feel that the contractual obligations ... were met,” Jansen told reporters Monday on a conference call.

“Considering the extra ask for money and the fact that we’re not confident that the construction is going to be done when (we) expected it to be done, we’re in a position now where we feel that we have to issue the notice of default.”

Graham Construction did not immediately return calls asking for comment.

Jansen did not get into details of the $120-million add-on, but said “we don’t believe they have provided sound reasons for their request.”

The hospital, when completed, will provide space for everything from acute care to cancer treatment, obstetrics, MRI services and surgery to patients in northwestern Alberta.

The contract with Graham began in 2011, under the former Progressive Conservative government, and has been delayed ever since due to construction deferrals, design changes and cost overrruns.

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The initial cost of the project was $250-million, less than a third of the current price tag.

Jansen said the province had been concerned with delays in construction for quite awhile. She said that provincial officials and Graham Construction agreed in 2016 to get the project done by 2018.

Even then, Alberta Health Services said in a summer update on construction that work would not be done until 2019. Clean up and other prep work would still need to be completed after that, before patients could be admitted.

Alberta Health Services said the shell and roof of the hospital had been completed, along with insulation and windows. It said construction on the inside – including framing, drywalling, piping and electrical – was about 70 per cent done.

The parkade work was also underway, with pilings in place and pre-cast panels up to the third floor.

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