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Alleged irregularities in the invitation to bid |  Quebec depends on AMP, opposition wants investigation

Alleged irregularities in the invitation to bid | Quebec depends on AMP, opposition wants investigation

(Québec) Québec s’en remet à l’Autorité des marchés publics (AMP) for determiner s’il doit y avoir enquête sur les allégations d’« irregularités majeures » which auraient été commises par des ages de placement de personnel du secteur de the health. For opposition parties, the investigation is necessary and must be requested by the government.

like Journalism The largest union of private recruitment agencies in the health sector revealed, on Thursday, the expulsion of two of its administrators, suspected of committing “significant irregularities” in the context of an appeal to massive offers recently made by the Legault government. An internal investigation has begun. The companies targeted by the allegations of wrongdoing vehemently deny they agreed to fix prices.

The unprecedented government contract, which was recently awarded to nearly 100 staffing agencies, aims to meet the estimated needs of more than eight million man-hours per year in the health network, particularly for beneficiary nurses and midwives. This equates to more than 4,500 full-time workers over the course of an entire year.

The person responsible for this call for bids is the Center for Government Acquisition (CAG). The Autorité des marchés publics (AMP), which has a mandate to monitor the awarding of public contracts in Quebec, says it has received a conviction over the allegations and is in the “dossier analysis” phase.

These two organizations report to the President of the Board of Trade, Sonia Leibel. We are talking about allegations now. I think there is something to analyze. “This is what AMP is currently doing,” she argued during a press session in parliament.

Photo by Catherine Lefevre, exclusive collaboration, Press Archives

Sonya Lebel

According to her, “It is up to AMP to decide whether or not to conduct an investigation. I don’t have to ask them for one, they have all the powers to take over the case.” […]. It can even delegate or pass on the information to other investigative entities such as the Competition Bureau.”

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The three opposition parties believe the government should call for an official investigation.

“When the Association of Staffing Agencies itself realizes that something may be wrong, it is not at all a good idea for AMP to look into this issue,” said liberal health critic André Fortin.

For Vincent Marisal, of Quebec Solidere, “it requires at least an investigation” of AMP, while the Auditor General should also be involved.

“The government has created a beast, fattened it up, put a lot of money at huge tender on the table, and hasn’t put the necessary checkpoints in place to ensure there’s no such thing (irregularities, editor’s note). Unsurprisingly, of course, the birds of prey helped themselves.” Was there collusion? They will have to show their credentials.”

Party Québécois considers it “necessary to investigate” the issue of “serious suspicions of collusion”, especially since the state pays “hundreds of millions of dollars” annually to recruitment agencies for nurses and beneficiaries in particular. Its deputy, Joel Arsenault, says he notes that “certain agencies or persons from agencies may be tempted, out of greed, to tamper with invitations to tenders or game the system.”

I think we have to shed some light on this, because you look at the definitions [des agences]They are often double the ceiling imposed by the government during the pandemic. Obviously there are people who, lured by profit, want to raise prices and with questionable practices. Therefore, all means must be put in place to ensure that recruitment agencies are run with the greatest integrity.”

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For his part, the Minister of Health, Christian Dubi, is of the same opinion as his colleague Sonia Lebel and considers that AMP “must see if there is a reason to investigate”.

“Subject to knowing what really happened, if we pay too much, of course it worries me. But at the same time I remind you that it is not for nothing that Bill No. 10 was adopted, we knew that we had to find a better framework ”for employment agencies. The government’s goal is to eliminate the use of agencies by 2026.

In the coming weeks, the Minister will introduce a draft regulation to re-cap agency fees. Christian Dubi said that agencies that submitted in the request for bids an hourly rate that would prove to be higher than this future ceiling would be excluded from doing business with the state.

With Tristan Peloquin and Hugo Bellon-Larousse