Alberta Health Services to extend Dynalife contract five more years

Alberta Health Services has reached an agreement in principle with Dynalife that would see the company continue to provide lab testing services in Edmonton and northern Alberta.

AHS president confirms agreement reached to extend contract

It was one year ago that Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman ordered AHS to cancel plans to negotiate a $3-billion contract with an Australian company. (CBC)

Alberta Health Services has reached an agreement in principle with Dynalife that would see the company continue to provide lab testing services in Edmonton and northern Alberta.

AHS president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu confirmed in an email statement that negotiations are continuing with Dynalife to extend its current contract by another five years to March 2022.

Yiu said the agreement "provides stability and predictability for staff and patients, while AHS and Alberta Health transition to a new provincial model for laboratory services in Alberta."

The extension comes a year after Health Minister Sarah Hoffman ordered AHS to cancel plans to negotiate a new $3-billion laboratory contract with an Australian-based health-care company.

In 2014, Sonic Healthcare was named the preferred vendor for a proposed 15-year contract with AHS.

That sparked an aggressive appeal by Dynalife, the company that had done much of the lab work in the Edmonton region for years.

The appeal panel sided with Dynalife and found AHS had  "breached its duty of fairness" in the request for proposal process, former AHS president Vickie Kaminski said in August 2015.

Hoffman said the contract extension provides ample time for an AHS administrative team to explore options for an "integrated system provincewide."

"The specific delivery, expanding private, expanding public or continuing the status quo, is still being developed as we move forward," Hoffman said.

Jason Pincock, CEO of Dynalife, said in an email the agreement is welcome news for the company and its employees.

"This agreement provides long-term security for our 1,200 employees, and it will also allow us to maintain our focus on laboratory quality and innovation that physicians and patients have relied on for over 20 years."

But Wildrose health critic Drew Barnes said the contract extension is another example of how the health-care system is being mismanaged.  

"For over a year and a half, the minister dithered on lab services, which has resulted in nothing more than a sole-source contract extension. This is not acting in the best interests of Albertans."

Barnes said the contract should have been put out for competitive bid to get "the best deal for taxpayers."

AHS has not released details of how much the new contract with Dynalife is worth.

The new letter of intent with Dynalife was signed Aug. 17. AHS hopes to have a contract signed by the end of September.