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Falling oil puts cancer center expansion under review

Declining oil revenues have the province taking a second look at what's spent on capital projects, according to one ministry spokesman.

Denying reports of the cancellation of the much-needed expansion of Calgary's Tom Baker Cancer Centre — which would have been the first victim of plunging oil prices — Health Ministry spokesman Steve Buick told the Sun the project would be one of several up for assessment.

"(The Minister) did not say anything, definite or specific, about the cancer centre," he said. "The minister was specifically asked, are you saying (the cancer centre) is shelved, and he said no."

While unable to speak for other ministries, this austerity review is being implemented across many of the province's biggest projects, he said.

"He said that every capital project has to be reassessed in light of the revenue situation," Buick said.

"The broad message is that we are reassessing all expenditures in light of revenue, and capital expenditures are the ones that are easiest to change in a given year."

"So, obviously there is special attention on those," he added. "He didn't say specifically that this project would be delayed or anything else, but we have to look at everything right now in this revenue situation."

The primary cancer centre for Southern Alberta, Tom Baker provides treatment as well as education, research and prevention studies.

The long-promised construction of a new cancer centre was first made in 2005 during Ralph Klein's time as premier.

A report several years later hinted at plans to expand the existing Tom Baker centre at Foothills hospital, but the first firm commitment came by way of a $1 Billion proposal unveiled in 2013 by then-Premier Alison Redford to construct a new centre near the existing facility.

That project was scheduled to begin construction by late next year.

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