Opposition calls on Trudeau government to crack down on over-billing contractors

The federal Conservatives are calling on the Trudeau government to make a serious effort to recover up to $72 million in overpayments to contractors, many of them in the defence industry.

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are calling on the Trudeau government to make a serious effort to recover up to $72 million in overpayments to contractors, many of them in the defence industry.

Procurement critic Steven Blaney says the Liberals owe it to taxpayers to recover the money and to diligently reform the system along the lines of an independent report that was originally commissioned by the Harper government.

“On cost recovery, we started this process and we expect the government to get serious and recover money owing to taxpayers,” Blaney said Tuesday.

A series of internal audits have found that Ottawa is routinely overcharged by its contractors — to the tune of tens of millions of dollars — in a practice that has been going on for decades.

NDP defence critic Randall Garrison set his sights on both the Liberals and the Conservatives, saying the system has been mismanaged.

“It’s the responsibility of the government to ensure that Canadians get value for money on procurement,” Garrison said in an email Tuesday. “The Conservatives need to explain why they failed to prevent these overpayments in the first place — and now the government must ensure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the mistake.”

As of the last budget year, the internal auditors had looked at $7.3 billion of contracts and cumulatively found $72 million in potential “over claims and excess profits.”

Only a fraction of the cash — $2.8 million — has been recovered and public services spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold says the outstanding amount “is presently subject to negotiations.”

Up to $1.9 million in claims are at risk of not being reimbursed because of “inaction,” said an Oct. 3, 2014 audit — one of a series of documents — obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information legislation.

Blaney said the government should be enforcing the terms and conditions of agreements, not just negotiating.

Bujold said the department has been actively trying to stop the overbilling before it happens and playing hardball with some contractors.

“Since identifying this issue, (procurement services) has strengthened its recovery regime by augmenting the level of engagement, leveraging existing resources and expertise and employing available contract clauses such as hold-backs to encourage settlement,” he said in a statement.

Officials are also trying to rejig the system, using so-called alternative contracting approaches and incentivizing contract performance.

But the audit said there is a reluctance, particularly at National Defence, to crack down and ask for repayments from contractors who overbill.

“Concerns have been expressed that imposing contractual limits in profit may be counterproductive and undermine sustainability of service delivery and financial viability of the contractor over time,” the report said. “We are aware that contractors have made direct representations to DND and (Public Works) officials echoing this possibility.”

Just Posted

New admissions have been suspended for Engineering Technology diplomas (Instrumentation, Electrical and Mechanical) and the Transitional Vocational Program at Red Deer College. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Developmentally disabled impacted: Red Deer College suspends program

Transitional Vocational Program comes to an end

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman holds up freedom of information requests that turned up no records. The Opposition requested back-to-school re-entry plan correspondence between Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and school boards, teachers and the media. Photo via Facebook live
NDP renews calls for Alberta gov’t to scrap K-6 draft curriculum

The NDP is once again calling on the Alberta Government to get… Continue reading

Earlier this week Alberta Health Services warned that Rocky Mountain House Health Centre emergency department would be temporarily without physician coverage from May 12, at 6 p.m., to May 13, at 7 a.m. (Photo contributed by the Town of Rocky Mountain House)
Doctors needed in Rocky Mountain House

Emergency department temporarily closed due to doctor shortage

The owner of Mae’s Kitchen in Mirror, says hamlet residents were ‘disheartened’ by a recent anti-restriction protest. The restaurant is following all the health restrictions in place. (Photo courtesy Mae’s Kitchen Facebook)
‘We don’t need that’: Mirror restaurant against recent anti-restriction protest

A week after a large anti-restriction protest at The Whistle Stop Cafe… Continue reading

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) deflects a shot against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
NHL postseason: Who’s hot as the playoffs arrive?

NHL postseason: Who’s hot as the playoffs arrive?

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, celebrates a goal with teammates during third period NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens, in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 5, 2021. Brown will lead a young Canadian squad into the world hockey championship in Riga, Latvia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ottawa forward Connor Brown leads Canada’s roster at world championship

Ottawa forward Connor Brown leads Canada’s roster at world championship

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jayna Hefford shakes hands with people associated with the hall before a hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils in Toronto. The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association is forging ahead in its bid to establish an economically sustainable professional league in North America with or — for now — without the NHL’s full financial backing. In response to Sportsnet.ca reporting the NHL was not in a position to operate a women’s league for the foreseeable future, PWHPA executive Jayna Hefford wrote in an email to The Associated Press late Thursday that her group has begun developing what she called “a parallel path for a future that doesn’t rely on NHL support.” (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
PWHPA forging ahead without NHL backing of women’s hockey

PWHPA forging ahead without NHL backing of women’s hockey

‘No secrets’ and no certainty in one-of-a-kind NHL playoffs

‘No secrets’ and no certainty in one-of-a-kind NHL playoffs

Supporters dance during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, Alta., on Saturday, May 8, 2021. RCMP say they have ticketed four people after the rally that was attended by hundreds.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta leadership responsible for protests against public health orders: expert

Alberta leadership responsible for protests against public health orders: expert

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Kenney is distancing himself from a decision to expel two members from his United Conservative caucus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Kenney distances himself from caucus vote to turf dissidents with ‘personal agendas’

Kenney distances himself from caucus vote to turf dissidents with ‘personal agendas’

Alberta's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday, July 6, 2020. A judge is expected to rule this morning on a challenge of the United Conservative government's inquiry into whether foreign groups have conspired against Alberta's oil industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Judge dismisses attempt to quash ‘anti-Alberta’ activities inquiry

Judge dismisses attempt to quash ‘anti-Alberta’ activities inquiry

Albertans receive vaccines at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Alberta Health Services says it has obtained a restraining order against a Calgary mayoral candidate who the agency says has threatened health workers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta health agency obtains restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate

Alberta health agency obtains restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate

Most Read