Hundreds of millions of dollars more expensive as hospital renovation costs skyrocket in Quebec

The cost of renovating or building hospitals is skyrocketing in Quebec, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to bills, a review of the protocol.

• Also read: More than 110,000 doctor visits have been canceled since April 2021

“It will cost more, but we have no choice,” responds Roxane Borgès Da Silva, a professor at the University of Montreal who specializes in health network management. We are in a very critical situation in some hospitals. And no matter what the cost, it is a question of security of supply.”

  • In Longueuil, the cost of the Charles Le Moyne hospital modernization project has risen from $400 million to $550 million since last year.
  • In Vaudreuil-Soulanges, the construction of a new hospital is now estimated at more than 2.5 billion dollars. $1.5 billion was expected in 2018.

Postponing work would drive up prices and jeopardize the quality of care, according to specialists interviewed by Le Journal.

Labor shortage, material costs, inflation: all sorts of factors drive up the bill. According to Statistics Canada, construction costs for non-residential buildings increased by 7% in the country in 2021. That was the strongest increase since 2008.

With the latest technology and healthcare standards, hospitals are expensive to build and renovate. The Société québécoise des Infrastructures (SQI) announced by e-mail that they could not estimate the cost increases of future projects.

dilapidated buildings

Water damage, insects in the operating room, poor air quality: several Québec hospitals are in disrepair because maintenance has been neglected over time.

Recently, the Saint-Jérôme hospital had to deal with water leaks that affected certain activities. Unsurprisingly, emergency work costs more than scheduled maintenance. According to several experts, postponing planned work because of high costs would be a mistake.

“If we delay maintenance by five years, the work becomes increasingly complex and expensive,” says Marie-Soleil Tremblay, a professor at the National School of Public Administration.

“There’s something to review in strategy because we’re shoveling the issue forward,” she said.

How about a hospital?

The derelict Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital is one of the worst examples of delays in repairs. In 2012, the renovation project was valued at $900 million. Ten years later, the budget has nearly tripled ($2.5 billion) and it still hasn’t started.

“Taxpayers lose out in the face of these hellish delays,” commented Ms. Borgès Da Silva.

The Department of Health and Social Care has no intention of postponing work at this time. In some cases, however, we could “wait a few months for more favorable market conditions before returning to a bid,” we wrote via email.

The SQI adds that amounts are set aside for contingencies. A temporary material price adjustment clause was also added last year.

Reconstruction of the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, $2.5 billion

The Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital is to be modernized in a mega-project that has been under discussion for ten years.  In 2018, a net was placed on the outer brick to prevent it from falling on passers-by.

Photos Pierre-Paul Poulin and Chantal Poirier

The Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital is to be modernized in a mega-project that has been under discussion for ten years. In 2018, a net was placed on the outer brick to prevent it from falling on passers-by.

Notorious for its major problems of decay, this Montreal hospital has been in need of rebuilding for several years. In 2012, a $900 million project was unveiled.

The project has since been reviewed, but work has not yet started. Renovation work is expected to start in 2024.

When asked about this, the management of the CUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal was unable to provide any information on the timetable for the work.

Last year, Radio-Canada said the project could cost $3 billion.

Instead of the previous 540, the hospital will now have 720 beds. Multiple units will be rebuilt at the same location.

In 2016, a new emergency was built ($85 million).

A new dialysis center was inaugurated in 2020 ($54 million).

New operating room in Chicoutimi, more than 500 million dollars

Construction of the new operating room in Chicoutimi

Photo agency QMI, Roger Gagnon

Construction of the new operating room in Chicoutimi

The conversion of the operating theater doubles its area. There will be 14 operating rooms and 21 recovery room stretchers. The preparation of medical products will also be renovated and the area will be tripled. The expansion will be 20,000 m2, we read in a press release.

The project of “more than 500 million dollars” was approved by the government last May, so the budget “takes into account the parameters of the current market”, writes the management of the CIUSSS du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

Construction work is scheduled to begin in 2024 and last until December 2027.

New hospital in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, more than 2.5 billion dollars

New hospital in Vaudreuil-Soulanges

Photo courtesy of Provencher-Roy

New hospital in Vaudreuil-Soulanges

The project, under study since 2015, will address an urgent need for acute care in the region while neighboring hospitals (Châteauguay, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Lakeshore) have been overcrowded for years.

In 2018, the project was valued at $1.5 billion. “Thanks to the budget increase, we were able to meet both the project scope and the schedule,” writes the management of the CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest.

During planning, the project was scaled to better meet the needs.

The project includes:

  • 404 beds
  • An operating room with 11 beds
  • 2 rooms reserved for obstetrics
  • 41 emergency stretchers
  • 13 floors

Construction is scheduled to begin later this year, and the opening is planned for 2026.

12-storey tower of the Pierre-Le Gardeur Hospital, Terrebonne, US$550 million

Pierre Le Gardeur Hospital, Terrebonne

Photo Pierre Paul Poulin

Pierre Le Gardeur Hospital, Terrebonne

The Quebec government plans to construct a 12-story tower that will be connected to the existing building by pedestrian bridges.

The renovation of individual buildings and the construction of a multi-storey car park are also planned.

The number of beds will be increased from 308 to 554 (+246).

Work should start soon, but the final timetable is not known.

New Quebec hospital complex, $2.239 billion

New hospital complex in Quebec

Photo Didier Debusschere

New hospital complex in Quebec

A new “ultramodern world-class” hospital center is being built on the site of the Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus (HEJ) and will merge with the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec. The project was started in 2013.

The hospital includes:

  • 700 beds (500 single rooms)
  • 30 operating rooms
  • A cancer center
  • 60 emergency stretchers
  • 5000 operations per year
  • The production of medical isotopes for research.
  • The hospital has been partially open since 2020, but full commissioning has been postponed from December 2025 to November 2029.

Further hospital renovation projects are being planned

  • La Malbaie Hospital: Expansion of the emergency and nursing stations
  • St Mary’s Hospital: Reconstruction of care units
  • Fleury Hospital: emergency extension
  • Gatineau Hospital: Rehabilitation of the perinatal ward
  • Sept-Iles Hospital: emergency extension
  • Hotel-Dieu of Levis: Renovation of operating rooms and endoscopy
  • Mont Laurier Hospital: Expansion of acute care
  • Saint Jerome Hospital: Construction of a surgical-technical platform
  • Charles Le Moyne Hospital: Expansion of the operating room and day surgery

Source: Quebec Infrastructure Plan, 2022-2032

According to the Quebec Infrastructure Plan 2022-2032, the government plans to invest US$22.8 billion in the healthcare network over the next 10 years. More than half of the budget (53%) is used to build new infrastructure.

The housing stock of the health network in figures

  • 577 hospitals*
  • 462 CHSLD
  • 176 rehabilitation centers
  • 181 youth centers
  • 190 CLSC

* including hospitals, health centers and psychiatric centers

Source: Quebec Infrastructure Plan 2022-2032

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