Alberta government keeps promise to cancel medical superlab

EDMONTON – Alberta is cancelling construction of a medical superlab in Edmonton and scrapping a plan to put all laboratory services under government control.

Premier Jason Kenney promised to do so before his United Conservative government was elected in April.

The former NDP government had announced the project in 2016 to bring existing labs and staff under one roof and put all its services under the control of one agency.

Kenney argued the changes would do nothing to improve patient services.

Construction of the $595 million superlab near the University of Alberta south campus was halted shortly after the election while the UCP conducted a review.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the province will save all but $23 million in construction costs and another $50 million will be saved by cancelling the planned buyout of private lab testing provider DynaLife.

“We’re standing by our commitment to cancel the expensive and disruptive superlab project and the ideologically driven plan to nationalize DynaLife,” said Shandro. “We’re going to put patients at the centre of the health system and invest health-care dollars where they’re most needed to strengthen our publicly funded health system and deliver better results for Albertans.”

Friends of Medicare says the cancellation leaves more questions than answers.

“There was no plan, no information on a business case that would explicate this reversal, nothing new other than speaking points as to how they are “focused on patients and delivering a world-class health-care system”, all nice sentiments but not enough clarity and transparency,” indicates Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.