Following public outcry in late 2008 regarding contract allocation in the municipal sector and the government's undertaking to remedy the issue, the government of Québec yesterday passed Bill 76 (French Only). The bill effectively amends all of ten major statutes applicable to the municipal sector and aims to ensure greater transparency and predictability to the province's municipal contract allocation process.
This new legislation notably includes:
an obligation to provide citizens with more information about municipal contracts awarded by a municipality;
greater leeway for Ministry auditors;
an obligation for municipalities to provide all information required for the performance of effective audits;
an obligation not to disclose the names of tendering parties prior to the opening of quotes;
an obligation for municipalities to adopt contract management policies which include various anti-corruption measures.
More specifically, the bill creates an obligation for municipalities to prepare an estimate for all contracts expected to be in excess of $100,000 and to maintain an easy to understand, comprehensive and accessible list via Internet for all contracts awarded in excess of $25,000. Also, payments representing 10% or more on any such contracts in excess of $25,000 cannot be made prior to publication of basic information regarding the contract, the tendering parties and prices quoted by all parties. Lastly, information regarding the actual cost to execute a contract must be published as soon as possible following completion and all published information must remain available and posted for a period of at least 3 years.
In addition to Bill 76 and as part of its ongoing efforts regarding ethics in the public sector, the government expects to pass another bill during the Québec legislature's 2010 spring session which would also create an obligation for all municipalities to adopt a code of ethics.