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April 23, 2019

Alberta government halts construction work on superlab site in Edmonton



As reported on, the province has paused work at the construction site of the planned $590-million superlab on University of Alberta land south of the main campus.

During the election campaign, Premier-designate Jason Kenney vowed the medical superlab approved by the NDP would be scrapped if the United Conservatives were voted in.

Lab services, estimated to cost the government $768 million a year, are currently delivered under a patchwork of public and private testing agencies.

The NDP government wanted to put all those services under the control of one agency, to be called Alberta Public Laboratories, which would be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alberta Health Services.

On March 11, Kenney said it would be a bureaucratic “boondoggle” to reorganize lab tests that were already handled effectively by the private sector. He also said the UCP would revisit the entire plan to put all laboratory services under government control.

Several sources told Global News Monday that subcontractors were told to clear off the construction site and that work had been suspended.

Then, a government spokesperson confirmed the decision, telling Global News: “To minimize costs incurred before a new government has the opportunity to review the lab hub project, a decision has been made to pause construction.”

Under the previous NDP plan, all lab testing would be funnelled through two major hubs by 2022 — the Edmonton superlab and a facility at Calgary Cancer Centre.

The majority of tests in the Edmonton region are handled by private provider DynaLife. Its contract with the province runs until 2022. After that, the NDP had planned to buy out the company for $50 million. Kenney said he would scrap that deal, too.

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