Manitoba to spend $1.5B to rebuild HSC
August 9, 2023
WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government is spending $1.5 billion over six years on a massive rebuild of the province’s largest hospital and an expansion of the University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne Avenue campus. The Health Sciences Centre project includes a plan to rebuild the central Winnipeg hospital’s adult bed towers – the core of the hospital – with at least 240 new private rooms, and create more space for complex procedural and diagnostic services, Premier Heather Stefanson last week.
“This is yet another historic investment into healthcare, with the largest health capital investment in Manitoba’s history,” Stefanson said at a news conference inside the nearly 70-year-old hospital building.
The new building is anticipated to be at least 10 storeys and will be located along Sherbrook Street, between the HSC Children’s Hospital and the centre’s rehabilitation and respiratory facility, the province said in a news release.
It will replace existing “obsolete” facilities, some of which date back anywhere from 1897 to 1968, the province said.
The project will also expand the adult emergency department and associated clinic spaces, modernize in-patient areas and address clinical capacity needs – including space to expand critical care units in the future if needed.
The announcement marks the hospital’s “first steps towards private patient rooms,” which it currently has very few of, said Dr. Perry Gray, provincial lead of medical specialist services and chief medical officer for Shared Health, which oversees health-care delivery in Manitoba.
“For the vast majority of patients in medicine and surgery, the private room is the standard,” Gray said at the news conference, adding the private rooms in the new space will have dedicated accessible washrooms, enough space to accommodate family visits and enough privacy for patients to discuss their medical condition without disruptions.
Private rooms also help reduce the spread of infections between patients, he said.
Those upgrades are part of a “generational project” that’s been years in the making, said Jon Lyon, president and CEO of the Health Sciences Centre Foundation, a charitable organization which solicits donations to support HSC.
“What you’re hearing about today is the result of a true team effort – one that will help transform HSC for the future,” Lyon said.
Work on the project will begin immediately, with some programs being moved to a temporary location at the Manitoba Clinic building as demolition and construction begin. That shift is possible after the clinic building was acquired by the HSC Foundation, the province said.
Lyon said the foundation acquired the building using credit facilities, meaning it won’t spend any donor dollars on that agreement. It also won’t spend donor money on maintaining the facility, which will be done through monthly rent paid by the building’s existing tenants, he said.
The Manitoba Clinic, the province’s largest private clinic, entered creditor protection in 2022 as it looked to strike a deal with the province to avoid financial collapse.
That “unique set of circumstances” allowed the hospital foundation to sign an agreement “to acquire the building for a fair price, secure the support of critical tenants, and prepare to close the transaction using credit facilities,” the foundation said in a news release.
Negotiations on a long-term lease of roughly 70,000 square feet of space within the Manitoba Clinic building have already been completed, the province’s release said. Minor renovations are anticipated over the next year.
Stefanson said outpatient services will begin moving to the Manitoba Clinic over the next year, and funding for the project will come from the province’s capital budget for health.
The money pledged by the province also includes $72 million for the first stage of expanding infrastructure for the University of Manitoba’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, as part of a long-term plan to concentrate the U of M’s health program at the HSC Bannatyne campus, Health Minister Audrey Gordon said at the news conference.
That money includes $40 million for a new multipurpose building on the Bannatyne campus, which will help expand the number of students the university’s medical school can accept every year, said Dr. Peter Nickerson, dean of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and the Max Rady College of Medicine.
Since 2008, the intake number for the program has been stuck at 110 spots – but that increased to 125 this year and will get up to 140 next year, Nickerson said.
“We know that primary care has been a big problem in Manitoba, and so one of the goals of working with government was to immediately increase the postgraduate training,” he said.
Dr. Michael Boroditsky, president of Doctors Manitoba, said he’s pleased to hear about the campus expansion, given the estimated 150,000 or possibly 200,000 Manitobans without a family physician.
“We need more physicians,” Boroditsky said in an interview on Up To Speed.
“By expanding our medical school, that ideally would be a long-term strategy to get more doctors at home.”