The Association des Architectes en pratique privée du Québec (AAPPQ), Quebec’s association of private practice architects, and the Association des firmes de génie-conseil (AFG), Québec, Quebec’s association of engineering consulting firms, want to see Quebecers get the most out of government investments in public infrastructure. “Will it take another Concorde overpass?” asked representatives, who are calling on the Government of Quebec to postpone its proposed amendment to the Regulation respecting certain service contracts of public bodies.
“Do we need another tragedy to remind us that we cannot compromise public and environmental safety when we build infrastructure?” asked AAPQ Executive Director Lyne Parent and AFG President and CEO André Rainville.
Over the past week, the two associations have received support from some twenty organizations and individuals who are also calling on Pierre Arcand, the chair of Conseil du trésor and Robert Poëti, Minister for Integrity in Public Procurement and for Information Resources, to reject the new modes of awarding contracts for professional services included in the proposed amendment, which all lead to the selection of the lowest bidders.
The AAPPQ and AFG have each submitted briefs to the government expressing their opposition to clauses in the proposed regulation that would, as of September, allow Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l’Électrification des transports (MTMDET) and Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI) to award professional architectural and consulting engineering service contracts using formulas that favour the lowest bidder.
According to Rainville and Parent, the lowest bidder model professional services leads to an increase in the overall cost of infrastructure. This practice denounced by the Charbonneau Commission runs counter to the government’s stated objectives—innovation, diversification of supply sources, and innovative solutions. “Lowest bid contracting should never be used for professional architectural and consulting engineering services to identify the best solution for each project. This can be achieved only through good planning and engineering. And that means harnessing the best resources available, not the cheapest,” they said.
Better planning of the works inevitably decreases overall cost, which includes design, construction, operation, and maintenance. In this perspective, the coalition is urging the government to maintain quality-based selection as the sole method for procuring professional architectural and engineering services until a number of promising pilot projects are completed and public consultations are held on this contentious issue for the safety and quality of infrastructure in Quebec.