Wait times for cancer treatment, surgery, dialysis and diagnostic services will be reduced, provincial cabinet minister Jim Watson promised yesterday as he announced $10 million for the Queensway-Carleton Hospital to help plan the third stage of its expansion.

The expansion includes 40 per cent more operating rooms, another MRI machine, another CT scanner, a new dialysis facility, a new addition that will boost hospital space by 35 per cent and renovations to the older areas built in 1976, said Watson, MPP for Ottawa West Nepean and minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“This funding is important to get Phase 3 off the ground,” Watson said. “All the pieces of the puzzle have to fit and as we expand the cancer centre operation we have to ensure we have all the other ancillary services that go to, in essence, complement the expansion of the cancer treatment.”

The cancer centre is under construction on the Queensway-Carleton Hospital campus and is scheduled to open in November.

Hospital president Tom Schonberg said it’s more challenging to renovate an existing building than to build new, so the $10-million planning grant will help finalize plans and drawings, allowing the $100-million project to go to tender by the end of 2009.

“This is absolutely critical to twin the engine and the body to be in synch,” Schonberg said. While the cancer centre will allow more people to be treated for breast, prostate and colorectal cancers, “what we desperately need is additional diagnostic capabilities.”

The expansion will increase the hospital’s capacity for breast imaging, ultrasound and nuclear medicine which will help diagnose patients earlier on in their disease.