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Romano 'committed to working with' Finnish Resthome on expansion project after huge cost increase

Sault MPP calls cost increase 'disappointing'
20220719-Sault MPP Ross Romano-DT
Sault MPP Ross Romano.

More than two-and-a-half years after the Ontario government announced that funding was approved for the development of 68 new long-term care beds and the redevelopment of 60 existing beds for Sault Ste. Marie’s Ontario Finnish Resthome Association, Sault MPP Ross Romano has expressed his concern that those plans are now facing a huge financial obstacle.

It was announced by OFRA Wednesday that the redevelopment’s original cost of $30 million has ballooned to approximately $100 million.

“It is disappointing that this project is again experiencing further increases in cost that are threatening its ability to move forward,” Romano said in a reply to SooToday Thursday.

OFRA was recently informed that an original, pre-pandemic $30-million estimate for the project, already having jumped to $50 million due to supply chain issues, labour shortages, and fluctuating material costs, has now increased to approximately $100 million.

New bids from two contractors - one for $95 million, another for $101 million and both far more than OFRA can afford - were recently presented to the rest home’s administration.

“We still don’t have a satisfactory explanation as to what caused that,” said Paul Belair, Ontario Finnish Resthome Association CEO, speaking to SooToday on Wednesday.

Despite putting a huge question mark on OFRA’s plans for expansion, Belair said OFRA will be speaking with the contractors about the unexpectedly high bids.

For his part, Romano stated he will support the Finnish Resthome in its plans to provide LTC beds for the Sault’s aging population.

“While there is an obvious need for all due diligence to be done to verify the additional increases in costs associated with this project, I am committed to working with OFRA to do everything that can be done to see this project through to completion,” Romano said.

Romano announced plans for the increase in the number of beds at Mauno Kaihla Koti from 63 to 128 in Jan. 2020 on behalf of the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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