Deficit could hamper the Lakes District Hospital replacement

The recent majority 'yes' vote to extinguish the harmonized sales tax (HST) could possibly see the Lakes District Hospital replacement project put on hold.

Lakes District Hospital replacement plans have now been submitted.

Lakes District Hospital replacement plans have now been submitted.

The recent majority ‘yes’ vote to extinguish the harmonized sales tax (HST) could possibly see the Lakes District Hospital replacement project put on hold.

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said to Lakes District News that the failure of the HST leaves a huge deficit that will hamper the government’s ability to fund additional capital projects, like the Lakes District Hospital.

He said the government already has a fairly aggressive capital project plan so any additional capital projects may be held over until the next budget cycle.

While he said he remains optimistic that the Lakes District Hospital replacement project will move forward, he also knows that covering the costs will be a huge challenge for the government.

Northern Health’s project proposal has now been handed in to the Ministry of Health, who then review the application and forward it along to the Treasury Board.

“I am fairly confident that the project is a high priority and will move forward if there are any dollars available. I spoke to Premier Christy Clarke two weeks ago as well as last week and mentioned the Lakes District Hospital to her so she is very aware of the need. I also had a quick discussion with the Minister of Finance, who is also the chair of the Treasury Board,” Rustad said.

He went on to explain that the budget has a three year rolling cycle.

“If the project doesn’t get approved, it does not mean it won’t go ahead. If it doesn’t get approved this cycle it may be funded part way through next year or in the next budget cycle.”

“Capital projects in rural B.C. are important. Rural B.C. is an economic generator and projects like this help generate jobs,” he said.

Rustad said, “At the end of the day there is economic uncertainty across the globe. There has been damage done and the government has got a lot of work to do to.”