Edmonton

DynaLife appeal of $3-billion lab contract delayed

A decision on DynaLife’s appeal of a $3-billion laboratory contract awarded last year to an Australian company will now be delayed until at least August, Alberta Health Services says.
Last fall, Alberta Health Services announced that Sonic Healthcare had been chosen as the preferred vendor for a 15-year contract to provide lab services in Edmonton. (CBC)

A decision on DynaLife's appeal of a $3-billion laboratory contract awarded last year to an Australian company will now be delayed until at least August, Alberta Health Services says.

Last October, AHS announced that Sonic Healthcare of Australia had been chosen as the preferred vendor for a 15-year contract to provide hospital and private lab services in Edmonton.

DynaLife, which also bid on the contract, launched an appeal of the AHS decision.

A vendor bid appeal panel was set up to look into the contract. The panel sent its report in June to AHS president and CEO Vickie Kaminski.

"The Edmonton Lab project is significant, considering it involves a critical health service and a significant amount of taxpayers' dollars," Kaminski said in a memo issued Thursday.

"As such, AHS needs to be as prudent as possible as its plans for future laboratory services in the Edmonton area."

Kaminski said the report requires detailed analysis and the new NDP government must be thoroughly briefed, so the report will not be released to the vendors until sometime in August.

The report will later be released publicly, she said.

Last fall, after Sonic was announced as the preferred vendor, DynaLife CEO Jason Pincock said his company would cease to exist without the AHS contract. He claimed at the time that mistakes were made in the tendering process.

The delay in releasing the panel's report came as welcome news for the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, the union that represents about 1,500 affected front-line workers.

"We are hopeful that the delay means that the recent change in provincial government has stalled the move for further privatization of laboratory services," Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA president, said in a statement.

Ballermann said if Sonic does win the contract, the move would transfer services currently provided by DynaLife and by some employees of AHS and Covenant Health.

"Our union has opposed from the outset any move to take lab services out of AHS," Ballermann said. "When services are delivered publicly, they can be provided without the need to show a profit to investors.

"Rather than hand over $3 billion of taxpayer money to a for-profit corporation, we believe Albertans would be better served by retaining ownership of vital health-care infrastructure."

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