Richard Mostyn, minister of highways and public works, at a press conference in February. Mostyn told reporters on March 21 that seasonally dependent contracts will be doled out until May. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon Party calls out Liberals for issuing seasonally dependent contracts past March

The official Opposition says Liberals are breaking an election promise

The Liberals are “feathering” out seasonally dependent contracts beyond March.

The thinking is to issue the majority of tenders before the busy summer season kicks in, said Richard Mostyn, minister of highways and public works, when speaking with reporters on March 21.

“Before they used to come out all the time,” he said, adding that before the Liberals came to power, contracts weren’t handled well in that they made available late in the building season – in August, for instance.

“We’re trying to get them out as early as possible so they can get their gear, get the people hired, get the equipment deployed. …”

During question period, Mostyn said that tenders worth $50 million have already been released this year; $8 million is expected this month; and $15 million over April and May.

The majority of contracts will be doled out by May, he told reporters.

“I’m not gonna say there won’t be any more. I can look into that, see how many more are coming,” he said, adding that many variables could affect projected timeframes.

“We committed to getting seasonally dependent contracts out earlier and we’ve done that and continue to do that,” he said.

The logic behind this is to give contractors more time to plan their summers.

“Because it is a really short season,” Mostyn said.

“As I’ve always said, procurement is not a destination, it’s a journey. What we’re trying to do is listen to our contracting community, the business community and adapt as we go.”

Mostyn received some flak on this point during question period. Yukon Party interim leader Stacey Hassard said the Liberals pledged to get all contracts out by March of every year.

“This was the Liberal party’s promise that they broke in 2017 and 2018, and it sounds like maybe they are going to break it again this year, Mr. Speaker. So another promise made, another promise broken by this government,” he said.

Mostyn clapped back, taking a shot at the previous Yukon Party government and calling Hassard “hidebound.”

“This is far and above what previous governments have been able to do. I’m proud of the work of the highways and public works department in getting these contracts out earlier and quicker so that contractors can plan and know what’s coming down this season,” he said.

Speaking with reporters after question period on this point, Mostyn said that it “doesn’t make sense to the contracting communities to get swamped by all these contracts by a certain date that gets drawn on a calendar, so we are working with our partners in the community to do what makes sense for the contracting community and the government.

“We heard from contractors they wanted it done better.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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