Premier Jason Kenney said Wednesday that $100 million has been authorized in the provincial capital plan for expansion of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Kenney pledges $100M toward Red Deer hospital improvements

Premier Jason Kenney has committed $100 million toward improvements at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre as part of the first phase of improvements to the facility.

Kenney, who indicated Wednesday that construction is expected to begin in 2021, said both central Alberta patients and medical staff deserve a world-class facility.

“Past governments have wasted time on half measures.

“This government of Alberta will get the job done,” said Kenney during a press conference at the hospital.

“This is phase one. We know that in the long term, there will be the need for additional resources for refurbishment and expansion. We hear that message.”

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He said a $5-million commitment in 2020-21 will fund planning and consultation. While the $100 million has been authorized in the provincial capital plan, the provincial budget does not show that full amount.

“But I have given instruction to the departments of health and infrastructure to move forward as much of the $100 million to be spent as quickly as possible to get construction underway.

“The bottom line is construction work will begin on the expansion and the refurbishment of the Red Deer hospital next year, in 2021,” Kenney said.

The community has been waiting for a cardiac catheterization lab, and Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the facility is definitely part of the first phase, but when it arrives, will have to be determined during the design process, which will hopefully proceed in the fall.

“The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is one of the busiest hospitals in Alberta, and is the primary health service provider for our citizens, the regional population, and every Albertan travelling along the central QEII corridor,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

“Today’s announcement by the government of Alberta responds to this longstanding infrastructure need of our community. The lives, health and well-being of our loved ones matter most of all, and this vital investment and expansion will help ensure access to crucial health services and improved health outcomes the people of Red Deer and central Alberta critically need.”

City Coun. Michael Dawe, a member of the past boards that have overseen the Red Deer hospital, called the commitment a wonderful first step.

“This is the first time in a long time we’ve seen some really significant movement down the road to where we should have been 12 to 15 years ago. We can’t change the past, but now we’re headed in the right direction,” Dawe said.

But the community must keep pushing forward their health concerns during the expansion process, he said.

“If something looks like it might be starting to go sideways, to provide the positive encouragement to keep it on the right track, that’s the best thing to do,” Dawe said.

Veer said central Albertans need positive movement on hospital expansion.

“There have been two formal studies that were initiated, and we made it very clear that essentially, the people of central Alberta needed to see action and implementation of studies, and not additional studies.”

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