Skip to main content

Alberta minister blames NDP, pipeline for South Edmonton Hospital delays


Nathan Neudorf, the UCP government's infrastructure minister, blamed the NDP and an underground pipeline Tuesday while refusing to give a timeline for a new hospital in the Alberta capital.

Last week, Alberta committed $634 million to the project in its three-year capital budget.

The project was first announced in 2017 by the NDP government. The facility was promised to be completed in 2026 and stand on a 320-acre site near Ellerslie Road and 127 Street SW.

The UCP government delayed the project following its 2019 election victory and has failed to provide a total cost, construction timeline or completion date after multiple requests from CTV News Edmonton.

"Instead of a hospital under construction, Alberta families have an empty field. Why does this government refuse to build the South Edmonton Hospital?" NDP MLA Lorne Dach asked during question period in the legislature.

Neudorf replied by saying the NDP did a bad job of planning it in the first place.

"They did a very high-level, pathetic, superficial needs assessment, they did no business case, they did no clinical service plan, they did no functional service plan and then just picked a number out of the sky and put that towards a hospital," he said.

Last month, NDP Leader Rachel Notley pledged to "urgently" build the hospital, spending at least the original cost of $1.8 billion. She accused the government of cancelling the project and not telling Albertans.

Dach pointed out that the UCP has had five budgets and nearly four years in office to start construction and again asked for a start date.

"On the date when we finally fix the messes that the NDP left us," Neudorf responded, to applause from his caucus.

"It's interesting that the NDP, when they picked the site for the Edmonton south hospital, they picked a piece of land under which a pipeline, an active pipeline, is. It's very difficult to negotiate how you build a hospital on top of an active pipeline."

Neudorf's press secretary later said the pipeline right-of-way across the site means Alberta needs an agreement with pipeline companies before construction equipment can cross it.

"Alberta’s government knows the necessity of the South Edmonton Hospital, and we are not cutting corners when it comes to safely and responsibly delivering on this piece of critical infrastructure," spokesperson Benji Smith wrote in a statement.

Under the NDP, the hospital was planned to add 491 beds to the Edmonton health zone.

Internal Alberta Health Services documents obtained by CTV News Edmonton last month show the province is aware that the Edmonton region has a deficit of hundreds of hospital beds.

That shortage is projected to surge to almost 1,500 in the next several years. Even if the new hospital is built, AHS projects the Edmonton zone would still be short by 1,043 beds in 2026.

A spokesperson for the health ministry said on Saturday that $52 million has been spent so far on site preparation and that work continues.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Adam Lachacz Top Stories

Stay Connected