Engineers strike | MTQ is ready to pay 50% more

On May 20, the Quebec Department of Transport (MTQ) adopted the “temporary” cuts to its regular contract award process, in order to allow its regional managers to approve them even if the asking price is 50% higher than the estimated price. business cost.

Posted at 7:00 am

Bruno Bison

The relief described in the notes I got Journalism It aims to “allow the contractual activities to continue” of the ministry despite the general strike of the country’s 1,800 engineers, two-thirds of whom work in the MTQ.

The second analyzes and opinions that are normally required before a contract that greatly exceeds expected costs are approved are suspended or “simplified” until the engineers normally responsible for their production are back in action.

In addition, approval of these contracts by an Assistant or Associate Deputy Minister will not be required, unless the cost of the contract exceeds the estimated price of work by more than 50%, as long as the engineers are on strike.

Finally, for the duration of the strike, and for a period of 20 days after the end of the dispute, MTQ will pay upon receipt of the usual invoices and documents up to 90% of the professional fees stipulated in the contracts of private engineering firms, without verification or approval of such invoices.

An amount representing 10% of the contract value will be retained “in order to maintain a margin of maneuverability if credits are required when technical validation is carried out by the engineers”, after they return to work.

Government cash cow

MTQ is one of the largest government contract machines in Quebec. According to the 2020-2021 Annual Management Report, this department awards approximately 2,600 contracts of all types each year and has approximately $2 billion in various studies and works on Quebec’s road network.

Spring is one of the peak periods for this annual distribution. In addition to maximizing the duration of the roadworks season, this period also allows companies to plan the manpower, machinery and equipment they will need during the year to carry out the contracts obtained.

The award of all these contracts is subject to General guidance on awarding and managing contracts for construction works, services, supplies, technology and informationa 43-page document outlining the rules to be followed at each stage of the award of the contract, from the submission of an initial formal file to the final submission of accounts.

However, since the indefinite general strike that began on April 22 by the Professional Guild of Government Engineers of Quebec (APIGQ), the mechanism for awarding good-oil contracts has been jammed.

Union engineers play the role of approving, verifying, designing or supervising at multiple stages of the contract development process. Due to the strike, a large number of roadworks projects were closed prior to bidding or during bid analysis.

Contracts already awarded cannot start, as there is no engineer to agree to be filled out.

The construction industry’s patience is running out.

In a statement Tuesday, Bitume Quebec President Tytus Zurawski said dozens of bitumen suppliers and bitumen producers in the province are now considering an “unprecedented wave of mass layoffs” if conflict between the state and its engineers continues.

“Abnormally low”

The memo dated May 20 suspended indefinitely only two articles of General guidelines Which relate to “abnormally low” bids and those that exceed the price estimated by MTQ by more than 15%.

The central measure of relief is the withdrawal of the systematic commitment to implementing a second opinion. »

Louis-Andre Bertrand, spokesman for the Quebec Ministry of Transport

“Price difference analytics, though simplified, remain mandatory, and must always be justified, documented and retained for use or verification later,” the latter explains.

In each regional trend, continues the spokesperson, the general managers will also have to agree with these analyses. “If they wish, they can also request a second opinion” before awarding a contract whose cost is much higher than expected, even if they are not obligated to do so.

MTQ does not have data on the number or value of contracts that have benefited from these “simplified” grants since May 20.

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