CALGARY – The province announced Wednesday that construction on the city’s long-awaited cancer centre is scheduled to begin in 2017.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley spoke about the one-stop treatment centre at a 9 a.m. news conference at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.
“Our government is committed to providing the best possible cancer care for Albertans and their families, and the investments we’re making under this year’s budget reflect that priority,” said Notley.
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It was hoped the facility would begin operating in 2020, but while releasing details of the 2015 budget on Tuesday, officials said its opening date would be pushed back at least a further three years.
The province said the hospital won’t open to patients until 2023-24 due to a financial shortfall; the $830 million set aside for the facility in the provincial budget falls $470,000 short of the estimated cost.
“This investment strengthens health care for Albertans, and it’s happening at the right time, while construction costs are low and while we’re focused on taking care of each other during tough times,” said Notley.
The new cancer centre will be built in the northeast corner of the Foothills Medical Centre campus, and will replace the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Health officials said Wednesday it will provide more inpatient beds and additional patient services.
“Every day about 43 Albertans learn they have cancer, and our current projections are that we’re going to see more Albertans being diagnosed with cancer each year. The Calgary cancer centre will be vital to meeting the cancer care needs of these Albertans,” said AHS vice president and medical director of central and southern Alberta Dr. Francois Belanger.
Advocates who have fought long and hard for the creation of the hospital are finding some comfort that it’s still going ahead.
“Cancer patients in Calgary and their families are going two, three, four, five or even six locations for their cancer treatment. That’s not acceptable,” said John Osler with Concerned Citizens for the Calgary Cancer Centre (C5).
“Calgary has the worst cancer facilities of any major city in North America – everybody knows it – It has for a long time and this is long overdue.”
Tuesday’s budget included $2.2 billion for health infrastructure over the next five years. A total of $652 million will go towards addressing maintenance needs at health care facilities across the province.
Investments in other health care facilities in Calgary and across the province include:
Edson Healthcare CentreFoothills Medical CentreGrande Prairie Regional HospitalHigh Prairie Health ComplexKaye Edmonton Clinic SouthLethbridge Chinook Regional HospitalMedicine Hat Regional HospitalNorthern Lights Regional Hospital (Fort McMurray)Peter Lougheed Centre (Women’s Services and Vascular Renovations)South Health CampusStollery Children’s Hospital