On February 3, 2022, Ms. Sonia LeBel, Minister responsible for Government Administration and Chair of the Conseil du trésor, filed the government strategy on public procurement (SGMP) and tabled Bill 12, An Act mainly to promote Québec-sourced and responsible procurement by public bodies, to reinforce the integrity regime of enterprises and to increase the powers of the Autorité des marches publics (PL 12). Medtech Canada reacted cautiously to the SGMP announcement, but will of course actively work with the government to implement it. The association also filed a specific consultation brief.
The policy objectives of the SGMP and Bill 12 focus on Quebec businesses, sustainable development issues and innovation in the procurement process. The 21 measures of the SGMP and Bill 12 will have a generally positive impact on all suppliers of the Quebec government, as the government is sending a signal that we must “modernize” the public procurement framework in principle, although it remains modest in the means to be adopted to truly change practices.
Nevertheless, Bill 12 (finally passed on May 25) includes improvements that will provide opportunities in the future; it introduces the concept of “best value for the public interest” in section 2 of the Act respecting contracting by public bodies (the Act) and links section 2 of the Act with the mission of the Centre d’acquisition gouvernementales (CAG) to section 4 of its constituent act. This amendment is important because the CAG is responsible for the majority of medical technology procurement in Quebec. Medtech Canada made sure to point out this gain. Furthermore, we have heard Minister LeBel, more than once, including in the National Assembly, state that the “lowest compliant price rule” should no longer be the default award method.
The SGMP’s announcement and the passing of Bill 12 will lead to a number of activities and opportunities for the industry. For example, the creation of Espace innovation will be an opportunity to test the Secrétariat du conseil du trésor’s willingness to put forward new ways of going to market and awarding contracts.
The next milestone to watch is the adoption of regulations providing for new contracting methods based on criteria other than net price. While the battle has been won in principle, our sector continues to struggle with the culture of short-term, silo-based budget management that still dominates the health care system. We must therefore take advantage of the momentum created by the various favourable policy directions announced in recent weeks (Québec Life Sciences Strategy, SQRI2, Plan Santé, etc.) to finally change the way things are done, in the interest of Quebecers.
Benoit Larose is Vice President, Quebec of Medtech Canada. Medtech Canada is the national association representing the Canadian medical technology industry. In Quebec, it includes more than 369 companies providing equipment, devices and services used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and health problems. The medical technology sector represents nearly 14,000 jobs in Quebec.