Question re: Dawson City hospital

Hansard November 6, 2013

Mr. Silver: Since we began this sitting I have been asking questions about the mismanagement of the F.H. Collins Secondary School project. I’d like to move today to another capital project the Yukon Party has bungled: the overbudget and behind-schedule Dawson City hospital.

In the spring, questions were raised about whether companies affected by Dowland’s bankruptcy would receive payment for the work on the project. The chair of the Hospital Corporation board said the following in the Legislature on May 13, and I quote, “We’re not aware of any outstanding fees or invoices that will not be paid.” It has come to my attention that some companies that did work for Dowland have not in fact been paid out. Some have even been told that they are not covered by the bonding process and will not be receiving any money at all.

How does the government plan to honour the commitment made by the chair of the hospital board that everyone who is owed money will in fact actually get paid?

Hon. Mr. Graham: The chair of the Hospital Corporation obviously made that comment with some assurance that he would be able to fall back on the Hospital Corporation’s resources in the event that a legitimate claim for payment came forward that was not to be paid by the insurance company. I trust the Hospital Corporation and the board to follow up with any legitimate claims for reimbursement and I look forward to hearing from him if there is a problem.

Mr. Silver: According to court documents filed in Alberta on May 21, Yukon companies were owed more than $3.3 million by Dowland. A number of these companies were in Watson Lake, some were in Dawson City and the rest were in Whitehorse. Here’s what the minister had to say in this House in May, and I quote: “Dowland’s insurance agent has already stated that they are good for the claims if the claims are legitimate.”

It is now October and some of the contractors I spoke to have been told that they will not be getting paid even if their claims are legitimate. They are not covered by the bonding process and they have been told “tough luck”.

What steps is this government taking to ensure that Yukon companies get paid?

Hon. Mr. Graham: As I said at that time, I am sure that if there are legitimate claims against either one of the projects — the facilities in Watson Lake or in Dawson City — the Hospital Corporation will endeavour to ensure that those legitimate claims are paid. I have yet to hear from the Hospital Corporation that there is a difficulty in this area. I will correspond with them in the very near future to request information with respect to any claims that are being refused by the insurance agent and discover what their next steps are.

Mr. Silver: We’ve sent letters to the minister responsible and we’ve contacted his office, but received no response. These companies have given credit to contractors for services. They reasoned that this is a government contract and of course they are going to get paid. Mr. Speaker, both the minister and the chair of the Hospital Corporation board gave Yukon companies their assurances that if they sat tight for a few months they would get paid for the work on the Dawson City and Watson Lake hospitals. It has now been now more than six months since these promises were made and these companies are still waiting. These projects are millions of dollars overbudget and years behind and Yukon Party’s handling of the entire mess was subject to a scathing investigation by the Auditor General of Canada. Now there are concerns that Yukon companies that work on these projects won’t get paid.

Will the minister take action to ensure that these legitimate companies with legitimate claims are going to get paid?

Hon. Mr. Graham: I’m not sure if the member opposite can’t hear very well or if he just doesn’t understand. These companies — these alleged companies — that the member opposite is talking about that have not received payment, or have been informed will not be paid, should be contacting the Hospital Corporation. That’s who the bond is with; it’s not with the government.

Once the Hospital Corporation has had an opportunity to look at these claims to ensure their legitimacy, I’m sure that the Hospital Corporation will make a decision based on those claims. I’m sure that the Hospital Corporation will make a decision based on those claims. At that time, I expect to hear from the Hospital Corporation Board of Trustees. I guess the member opposite thinks I’m going to run out with the chequebook and write cheques to everybody that he’s talked to. That’s not the way the system works and I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to convince the member opposite that’s not the way the system works.