The Jim Pattison Children's Hospital

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The Children's Hospital of Saskatchewan will be getting a new name following the largest private donation in Saskatchewan history.

The $285-million construction project adjacent to Royal University Hospital will now be known as the Jim Pattison Children's Hospital. Pattison was on hand Tuesday as officials announced his $50-million pledge to support equipment purchases and research.

At a news conference, Pattison was presented with a construction vest and hard hat to symbolize the ongoing work on the hospital. The 88-year-old native of Luseland, Sask., grew emotional at the podium as he described his Saskatchewan roots.

He said it was Saskatchewan people and members of a local Apostolic church that fed and clothed his family when they lost their business during the Depression.

Pattison would go on to make his fortune in the auto, media, real estate and grocery sectors. Forbes magazine estimates his net worth at $5.6 billion.

"My family owes a lot to Saskatchewan," said Pattison. "My mom's family were homesteaders and my dad's family were homesteaders, so we wouldn't be here without Saskatchewan people."

Pattison said it's important to recognize the work of volunteers and how important they are to society.

"I think any effort, no matter how small, can help," he said. "That's what builds a community and what builds a country."

Premier Brad Wall said he's grateful for the donation, and that the new hospital is needed.

"We're going to have a world-class children's hospital," he said. "I think it was always the vision of our government that we would have one in the province."

Wall lauded Pattison's commitment to Saskatchewan.

"He has never forgotten the province," Wall said. "It's just great to have him home, and we're grateful for his generosity."

The Ministry of Health said the hospital has recruited more than 70 per cent of the pediatric specialists it will need. Thirteen interested candidates have made site visits to Saskatoon since January.

The hospital was 55 per cent complete at the end of April, and is on-time and on-budget. The hospital is expected to open in 2019.

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