North Island Hospitals Project employment and skills training reaching new heights

COURTENAY/CAMPBELL RIVER – The number of people working on Island Health’s North Island Hospitals Project (NIHP) construction surpassed 500 this summer and is expected to remain in this range in the months to come.

“The North Island Hospitals Project will contribute not just two great hospitals, but hope to the community by providing jobs for hard-working residents,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “I’m proud of the local, made-on-the-Island approach we’ve been able to cultivate with this project so families can have quality care where they need it the most.”

“It is projects like the North Island Hospitals that help grow our economy and create jobs, strengthening families and communities,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourisms and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. “This project is also a great example of our government’s new Apprentices on Public Projects policy by requiring contractors to include apprentices in their workforce, giving them the skills and hands-on learning they need to succeed in the future.”

NIHP employment figures reported a total of 543 people worked on the new hospital construction sites in August, the highest monthly total since construction began one year ago. Local workers made up two-thirds of the total in August. Meanwhile, the number of apprentices working and learning on the two hospital sites reached new heights as well. August saw 101 apprentices working on the project in areas including plumbing/mechanical, electrical, carpentry, walls & ceilings and more. Local workers made up more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of the workforce in September.

“This is a wonderful way to demonstrate the many ways hospitals and other health care facilities can be the heart and soul of communities,” said Island Health Board Chair Don Hubbard. “When completed, these hospitals will provide state-of-the-art health care to the region, but they are already contributing to the region’s economic health and will continue to do so for many years to come.”

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.

“These employment figures are good news for our region,” said Charlie Cornfield, chair of the Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District (CSRHD).  “The apprenticeships provide an excellent grounding for good jobs in the future, and the job creation itself provides not just employment for those on the two sites, but also has a great spin-off effect into our economies as a whole.”

The North Island Hospitals Project and Tandem Health Partners have been working with the Province of B.C., the Industry Trades Association, local School Districts, North Island College, the North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society, local employment foundations, and others to develop apprenticeship and other training programs and employment opportunities.

“We’re thrilled about this,” says Gary Herman, CEO of the Industry Trades Association (ITA), which funds skilled trades training in BC. This month ITA recognized the NIHP as one of its ‘Champions of Apprenticeship’. “It’s projects like this that say ‘this is about our future; it’s about the future of British Columbia and it’s about how we can contribute to that future by training the next generation of skilled workers.’ You’re not just building two hospitals, you’re building the future workforce that’s going to be there when baby boomers retire. That’s going to allow you to build more infrastructure in the future.”

“We’ve been working hard to maximize a variety of opportunities stimulated by this project beyond bricks and mortar,” said NIHP Chief Project Officer Tom Sparrow. “That includes not only employment and training opportunities, but maximizing local economic development as well.”

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 for completion by late 2017.
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Media InquiriesDan MacLennanCommunications OfficerIsland HealthPhone: 250.850.2943Email:dan.maclennan@viha.ca