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'Recklessly spending tax dollars': Questions arise over cost of government infrastructure projects

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Questions are being asked in the legislature about the significant cost of two major government infrastructure projects.

An expansion of 69 beds to the Prince Albert Hospital will cost three times the original estimate, while Lake Diefenbaker irrigation is proceeding without government dollars.

The government has awarded a construction contract for nearly $900 million. A local area MLA is questioning the expenditure.

“In Prince Albert, they’re spending $13 million for every new hospital bed,” said Saskatchewan United Party Leader Nadine Wilson.

The government said non-residential construction costs are up over 40 per cent, steel itself is up 80 per cent.

“Costs have escalated in that project as they have in other projects in Saskatchewan, not just hospitals or long term care homes, schools as well,” Minister of Health Everett Hindley said.

Wilson is also questioning the province’s decision to go it alone on the Lake Diefenbaker irrigation project after the federal government failed to come through as a financial partner.

“Yet they have a government that is recklessly spending tax dollars on nearly every project. Take for example the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project where this government is planning to spend $44,000 per acre,” she said.

The government says Wilson’s estimate is high.

“It’s not the number. I mean, you look at the first phase, we’re going to turn on 90,000 acres when it’s completed in the first phase at about $1.2 billion which works out to about $12,000 an acre,” Minister of Agriculture David Marit said.

The provincial government remains committed to both projects while remaining hopeful that Ottawa will still come through as a partner on the Lake Diefenbaker irrigation project. 

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