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UPDATE: Province fires Grande Prairie Regional Hospital construction manager

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UPDATE: Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen says getting rid of Graham Construction was part of the province’s responsibility to taxpayers to get the project done on time and on budget.

“We had to take steps to ensure that we were working towards that eventuality. We would not have taken this step without having exhausted every possibility to reach the cost and timeline certainty with Graham.”

An invitational Request For Proposal for a new project construction manager should be issued this week, and Jansen hopes construction will start up again in November. At this point, the exterior of the building is finished, and the interior is reportedly 75 per cent complete.

Jansen admits issues with the project go back years, but wouldn’t say whether she thinks action should have been taken against Graham Construction earlier. She adds it’s rare for the government to fire a construction manager.

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“The vast majority of our projects are delivered on time and on budget by the contractor who wins the project. Fundamentally, this hospital was not progressing at an acceptable pace.”

Jansen won’t comment on whether the government expects legal action from Graham over the firing. She also couldn’t disclose what was included in the company’s submitted mitigation plan.

The construction manager of the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital has been fired. Alberta Infrastructure says it has terminated the services of Graham Construction and expects to hire a replacement by late October 2018.

Graham was issued a Notice of Default at the end of July, giving it 15 days to submit a plan for how it would get the project back on schedule and in line with its contract. One was submitted on August 17th, but Minister of Infrastructure Sandra Jansen says it didn’t give the government “the certainty that was needed in terms of timeline and budget to complete the project.”

“This was not a decision that was made easily. I have been clear that this project is a government priority and that’s why we are taking action to construct this hospital as quickly as possible. The actions taken today will provide greater certainty around the completion of the new hospital.”

Construction on the site has been temporarily suspended. A new construction schedule won’t be available until a new construction manager is in place.

At last report, construction on the hospital was expected to be done by the end of 2019, with the doors opening to the public in 2020. It’s unclear how much further this decision will delay the opening. Jansen has scheduled a call with media for this afternoon.

In August, Graham Construction said the province had been aware for years that the design for the hospital would cost more than its budget. It argued there have been ongoing changes to the design and scope of the project since 2011, including more than 600 change orders and 400 design clarifications in the last two years.

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