North

Yukon government wasted 4 trade exceptions, opposition says

Yukon Party leader Stacey Hassard says four of the government contracts excepted from rules in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement aren't even on the radar of non-Yukon companies.

Non-Yukon companies don't bid on cleaning contracts, says Yukon Party leader Stacey Hassard

'This exemption appears to have been used on contracts that look to have been at no risk of going south,' said Yukon Party interim leader Stacey Hassard. (Steve Hossack/CBC)

Yukon's official opposition wants to know how the territorial government decided which contracts would qualify for procurement exceptions under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement.

The agreement signed last year allows the government to restrict bidding on 10 projects to Yukon companies only.

On Monday, Yukon Party leader Stacey Hassard questioned the government's choices, pointing out that four of the 10 exceptions are contracts that aren't on the radar of companies outside the territory — contracts for things such as cleaning services and roofing repairs.

Hassard said that non-Yukon companies don't even bother bidding on the cleaning contracts, and that only one southern company bid on roofing contracts — and it was the highest bidder.

"Yukon fought for these exemptions under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement to be included so that we could protect local businesses that are at risk of losing work to southern companies," Hassard said in the Legislative Assembly.

"We've highlighted four instances where this exemption appears to have been used on contracts that look to have been at no risk of going south." 

Minister pressed for explanation

Hassard pressed Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn for an explanation. He asked what criteria was used to determine which contracts were chosen, and who would be eligible to bid.

Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn did not give the response Hassard was looking for, but said 'a whole array of contractors are happy today.' (CBC)

But Mostyn stuck to his talking points, saying the government was fulfilling an election pledge, and that contractors are pleased with the exceptions.

"It's great news for the territory, and it's great news for the local contracting, roofers, cleaners — a whole array of contractors are happy today." 

He did not respond to Hassard's question about criteria, other than to say information would be coming "in the days and weeks to come."

The 10 contracts identified for exceptions are worth about $4.4 million.

Bidding is limited to Yukon companies which were identified in the last fiscal year, but Mostyn did not say which companies are on that list. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raised in Ross River, Yukon, Nancy Thomson is a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program. Her first job with CBC Yukon was in 1980, when she spun vinyl on Saturday afternoons. She rejoined CBC Yukon in 1993, and focuses on First Nations issues and politics. You can reach her at nancy.thomson@cbc.ca.

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