Kenney committed a United Conservative government to stopping the NDP’s plan to waste $590 million on a new “Superlab” to replace services that are already being performed efficiently at existing facilities. The UCP will also reverse a $50 million NDP buyout of a private company designed to further nationalize lab services.
“We will end this $640 million boondoggle,” said UCP leader Jason Kenney today. “This is money that should be spent on patient care and hospitals, not building new bureaucratic empires”
Kenney characterised the Superlab project as well as the NDP’s stated intention of buying lab-services contractor Dynalife in 2022, as “monuments to the NDP’s ideology. It is clear from this boondoggle that they care more about bureaucratic buildings than patient care and hospitals.”
“The NDP Superlab would be more than twice as large as the current facilities that are used to do the very same job. It will do nothing to improve patient services. It has no impact on testing outcomes. And it is almost exactly the cost of the proposed South Edmonton Hospital. Which would you rather do with $640 million, building a new hospital or replacing a set of laboratory facilities that are already delivering the service we need? It is a completely irresponsible misdirection of scarce tax dollars from patient care to back office bureaucracy. Our limited resources need to be focused on front-line services and hospitals.”
The capital funding allocated of $590 million for the Superlab, formally known as the Edmonton Clinical Laboratory Hub, is nearly as much as the entire funding envelope proposed in the Government of Alberta’s 2018-21 Capital Plan for a new Edmonton hospital ($623 million), something that Kenney says demonstrates the backwards health care priorities of the NDP.
“This is money that could be going directly to patient care instead, and that’s why we will immediately need to cancel this reckless and inexcusably wasteful expenditure.”
In 2016, the NDP government announced plans to nationalize lab-testing for northern Alberta in a purpose-built facility on the University of Alberta’s South Campus west of 113th Street NW. Construction is scheduled to begin this month.
The Superlab project appears to draw little support from the university, which had the site in mind for student housing.
The Edmonton Business Association has also expressed concerns that relocating Dynalife’s operations and staff to the new site would ‘leave a hole’ in the downtown.
Said Kenney, “This development is bad news for the city of Edmonton. Edmonton already has an 18 percent vacancy rate in the downtown core. Now the NDP wants to move one of the largest private-sector employers out of downtown, just as the city is prioritizing downtown revitalization with the Ice District. This proposal pulls hundreds of workers from downtown, and confiscates land that Edmontonians hoped would be used for additional student housing. It makes no sense.”
To protect the best interests of the Alberta taxpayers, the NDP government’s plan to buy Dynalife would also be reversed, said Kenney.
“In order to save taxpayers another $50 million of NDP waste, we will seek to reverse the government’s acquisition of Dynalife’s Northern Alberta lab service rights,” Kenney said. “This is $50 million that is being diverted from patient care to a corporate buyout for only one reason: NDP ideology. We will consult with AHS, the public service and independent experts on how to ensure the lowest cost for taxpayers in providing reliable lab services for AHS.”
Kenney has already pledged to cancel the NDP’s $3.7 billion plan to lease rail cars to ship oil.
“None of this big-idea spending makes sense when you’re running deficits, with just a daydream-plan to get back to balance. By cancelling railcars that are a bad deal, this $590 million health-care capital project that is not needed, and the $50 million Dynalife purchase, we are saving the taxpayers of Alberta close to $4.5 billion. We do have to get the budget back to balance. Our focus is on reigniting Alberta’s economy and protecting front line public services. That’s why we have to stop this massive waste of taxpayers’ money by the NDP.”