The case of the missing contracts

This week the NDP's health critic, Jan Stick, discovered something curious. More than 100 contracts, worth a combined $8.2 million, had disappeared from the government's public contract registry.

This week the NDP’s health critic, Jan Stick, discovered something curious. More than 100 contracts, worth a combined $8.2 million, had disappeared from the government’s public contract registry.

Stick found the discrepancy when she compared the Health and Social Services contracts on the registry retrieved on Oct. 9 to those retrieved Nov. 21.

She asked Minister Doug Graham on Monday to explain where they went, and he accused her of spreading a conspiracy theory.

“The member opposite obviously knows more about the Health and Social Services budget than I do, or at least she thinks she does,” said Graham.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I think it’s important because this is a public contract registry, it is about open and accountable government,” Stick said in an interview this week.

“When $8 million in contracts disappears, I want to know where they went.”

On Tuesday Graham came back to the legislature with an explanation.

The contracts should never have been listed on the registry in the first place, he said.

Employment contracts and contracts for physician services and legal services are not supposed to be made public, under the rules that govern the registry.

“One of the big reasons that I wasn’t fully up to speed on the contract registry is that it belongs in Highways and Public Works. When Highways and Public Works realized that an administrative error had occurred and these contracts for physicians were in error appearing on the registry, they apparently corrected the error and removed these contracts from the contract registry.”

Stick thanked Graham for the answer, but said questions remain.

“Even as he was speaking, I did a quick check and there are still some contracts that I would question. I accept that that was error – that these contracts should not have been listed, but they have been (listed) for a number of years now because I have looked at them in the past.

“I would also point out that lease space in clinics – some have been removed, some have not. I found a number of instances of those in the current contracts, as of today. I’m also able to find doctors’ contracts still on here for services that they are providing here in Whitehorse. So if this is in error, I think someone needs to go back and check it again and make sure that those things are removed, if that’s the case.”

Graham said his department will work with Highways and Public Works to ensure that the right contracts appear on the registry in the future.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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