COURTENAY/CAMPBELL RIVER – The number of people working on Island Health’s North Island Hospitals Project (NIHP) construction surpassed 1,000 in April and is expected to remain in this range in the months to come.
“The new hospitals being built in Courtenay and Campbell River will provide high-quality care to those in need in the region,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “They are also great examples of job creation and our strong economy, as the number of workers on the construction sites reached a peak of more than 1,000 people in April.”
Local workers made up almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of the total April workforce. Ninety per cent of the workers were from Vancouver Island.
The number of apprentices working and learning on the two hospital sites reached new heights as well. April saw 290 apprentices working on the project in areas including plumbing, mechanical, electrical, carpentry, sheet metal, and walls & ceilings.
“Major projects like the North Island Hospitals are not only investments for the future, but they generate jobs and valuable training opportunities for B.C. apprentices that are working in the construction sector right now,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourisms and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. “We launched the Apprentices on Public Projects Policy last year for just this reason, to help apprentices get the skills they need and it is great to see that there are now a significant number of apprentices working and learning on the project.”
“The North Island Hospitals Project is about building the future,” said Island Health Board Chair Don Hubbard. “These state-of-the-art hospitals will bring improved health care to the region when they open in late 2017, and they’re already contributing to the region’s economic health.”
Construction of the new hospitals will create an estimated 2,200 direct jobs and more than 1,400 indirect jobs over the life of the project. Employment numbers have been growing since construction started in July of 2014. The numbers are expected to reach their peak by early summer 2016.
“Having employment opportunities and apprenticeship programs readily available in our region is a great economic boost,” said Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District (CSRHD) Chair Charlie Cornfield. “Not only are we increasing our skilled labour force by building these two new state-of-the-art hospitals, we are also attracting new residents to live, work and play within our communities.”
The economic and social benefits of the North Island Hospitals Project extend well beyond job numbers, says NIHP Chief Project Officer Tom Sparrow. He notes the project to date has purchased $165 million worth of equipment, products and services from a wide range of Island suppliers, from concrete and steel to electrical, roofing, hardware and much more.
“We’re building capacity on the Island through education, through the workforce composition, through apprenticeship programs, and through purchasing and supporting businesses and services across Vancouver Island,” Sparrow said. “We’re strengthening the workforce. We’re improving and enhancing the skilled labour pool that will be able to work on future infrastructure projects across British Columbia. It’s sustaining and building on the future of British Columbia.
“In addition, the income that is generated through those jobs is going directly back into our local communities. We’re strengthening the foundations of these communities at many different levels. It’s absolutely phenomenal.”
Sparrow offered congratulations and compliments to the Industry Training Authority (ITA), North Island College, school districts, employment foundations and other local organizations who have supported the project’s employment and training initiatives from the beginning.
The North Island Hospitals Project has been recognized as one of BC’s ‘Champions of Apprenticeship’ by the ITA, which funds skilled trades training in BC.
The $606.2 million North Island Hospitals Project includes a new $331.7 million, 153-bed Comox Valley Hospital in Courtenay on Lerwick Road near Ryan Road, and a new $274.5 million, 95-bed Campbell River Hospital on the existing hospital site at 375 – 2nd Avenue.
Both hospitals are scheduled to open to patients by late 2017.