Alberta auditor general examining province’s procurement and contracting of DynaLIFE lab services

Click to play video: 'Alberta auditor general investigating community lab services transitions'
Alberta auditor general investigating community lab services transitions
Alberta's auditor general will investigate the United Conservative government's attempt to privatize community lab services. The examination comes after the province took over lab testing from Dynalife after complaints of long wait times, especially around Calgary. Slav Kornik reports. – Oct 6, 2023

The Office of the Auditor General of Alberta has confirmed it will be “examining (the province’s) procurement and contracting processes with DynaLIFE,” a private lab services provider, as part of a report it hopes to make public early next year.

This summer, Health Minister Adriana LaGrange suspended handing over community lab testing to DynaLIFE after ongoing concerns were raised about long wait times and service delays in Calgary and southern Alberta.

“This will be a comprehensive examination like our report on continuing care facilities which was released in February,” a spokesperson for the auditor general’s office said Friday.

The confirmation of a review comes less than two months after the Alberta NDP called on Doug Wylie, Alberta’s auditor general, to investigate the UCP government’s attempt to privatize community lab testing in the province.

“I’m encouraged that Albertans will get some answers on how and why the UCP caused so much damage to the health care we rely on,” NDP MLA David Shepherd said in a news release issued Friday, calling the UCP’s lab privatization policy a “catastrophic failure.”

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In a statement provided to Global News, LaGrange’s press secretary said the “delays Albertans experienced to access lab services have been unacceptable.”

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“We explored all options to resolve the delays in testing and did what was necessary to make sure Albertans have reliable and speedy access to lab services now and into the future,” Charlotte Taillon wrote in an email.

“All parties involved mutually supported this decision.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta moves to de-privatize community lab tests in face of long waits, bottlenecks with Dynalife'
Alberta moves to de-privatize community lab tests in face of long waits, bottlenecks with Dynalife

In the summer, Premier Danielle Smith said DynaLIFE was the only bidder for the provincewide testing contract and said she too would like to know what went wrong. She noted that the decision to contract more lab work out to DynaLIFE was made before she became premier. Smith added at the time that privatizing lab testing is not an option her government plans to take off the table.

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DynaLIFE has been providing lab testing services in Edmonton and northern Alberta for years and expanded to other parts of the province last year. Allowing the company to provide the services was supposed to save the province between $18 million and $36 million each year.

When LaGrange announced changes to the deal in August, she said DynaLIFE had agreed to transfer its staff, equipment and property in all of Alberta, including Edmonton, to the province by the end of the year.

DynaLIFE’s operations will be taken over by Alberta Precision Laboratories, which is part of Alberta Health Services.

The NDP said it hopes to see Wylie ask what role LaGrange’s office played in the request-for-proposal process that led to DynaLIFE receiving the lab services contract, as well as “what safeguards, if any, were built into the contract to hold DynaLIFE accountable for its failure to deliver contracted services.”

–with files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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