Donation gives $3.5M boost to new Brandon cancer care centre for patients, families

The construction of a new centre to provide support for cancer patients and their families in southwestern Manitoba has been given a $3.5-million boost.

The money comes from the Paul Albrechtsen Foundation, named for a man who was one of the largest donors to Manitoba hospitals, provincial officials said Wednesday.

 Albrechtsen, who died in 2019, gave nearly $30 million to Winnipeg organizations during his lifetime.

The new Albrechtsen Centre for Hope will be located at Brandon’s Western Manitoba Cancer Centre. The project and donation were announced at a Wednesday morning news conference by Lee Meagher, board chair for CancerCare Manitoba.

The new centre will be modelled after the Breast & Gyne Cancer Centre of Hope in Winnipeg.

A group of 10 people wearing hard hats and holding shovels stand outside, smiling.
Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon, centre, Premier Heather Stefanson, centre right, and other dignitaries tour the construction site for an expansion for the Brandon Regional Health Centre on Wednesday. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

“It is difficult to put into words how meaningful and impactful this gift is. It will change the cancer experience for Manitobans and their families for many, many years to come,” Meagher said.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of supporting cancer patients with emotional and physical programs and engagement opportunities beyond their protocol medical treatments.”

The programs are designed to reduce stress, offer a better quality of life and better outcomes, “and very importantly, more hope,” she said.

Premier Heather Stefanson and Health Minister Audrey Gordon were also on hand at Wednesday’s news conference to re-announce a pair of other projects in Brandon — the expansion of two health-care facilities — which were first announced in August 2021.

Work to expand the Brandon Regional Health Centre began in the fall. It will add 30 new medicine beds, boost the intensive-care unit to 16 beds from nine, and expand the neonatal intensive care unit, the province said.

The project will add 9,400 square feet, Wednesday’s update said, which is a little more than the 7,000 square feet announced in August.

An expansion of the Western Manitoba Cancer Centre, to include additional radiation treatment capacity, medical oncology and hematology and the new Centre for Hope, began in January.

The cost of the health centre project is about $110 million, while the cancer centre has a nearly $26 million price tag.

No completion dates were given for any of the projects.