Cabinet says yes to P3
Picco to move on new health centres

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Apr 26/99) - Health Minister Ed Picco said last week that he would continue to push for the construction of three new health-care facilities in Nunavut.

Following a call from the three regional health boards and the birthright corporations to get back on track with the projects, Picco said that he and the cabinet recognized the need for the centres and would continue to work towards making them a reality.

In order to finance the costly facilities -- the price tag on all three will ring in between $50-$60 million -- Picco further added that cabinet had agreed in principle to look at public-private partnership (P3) funding initiatives.

"Based on the shortage of capital dollars that are available and the need that's out there for the facilities, we had to move forward on P3 initiatives," said Picco.

Such partnership initiatives are used to finance capital projects in which the private sector builds and maintains the facilities and leases them back to the government. In this case, the Inuit birthright corporations will develop the health-centres and lease them back to the Nunavut government.

"We were following up on plans that were already put in place by the GNWT and we came back with a strong commitment to support P3," said Picco, of the agreement cabinet reached during their recent retreat in Kimmirut.

Because of the government's renewed commitment, it is hoped that supplies can be ordered for this sealift season and that building in two of the three regions will begin this summer. The facility in the Baffin region, slated to be the biggest of all three, is still in its pre-design phase and it is unlikely that any construction, other than site preparation, will begin this season.

Cabinet will also explore the possibility of using P3s to build a health centre in Arviat and student housing in Cambridge Bay.