Adlair Aviation Ltd. loses medevac contract appeal
NNI board says GN properly awarded Kitikmeot medevac work
(updated Oct. 31 at 4:10 p.m.)
The Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti appeals board has denied an appeal filed by Adlair Aviation Ltd. of Cambridge Bay to overturn the Government of Nunavut’s decision to award the Kitikmeot region’s medevac contract to Aqsaqniq Airways Ltd.
In August, the Government of Nunavut awarded the medevac contract, which Adlair had held for more than 20 years, to Aqsaqniq, a firm based in Taloyoak.
Following the award to Aqsaqniq, Adlair appealed the decision to the NNI board.
The NNI policy is the Government of Nunavut’s instrument for complying with Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which says governments must help Inuit-owned businesses get government contracts.
Appeals on contract awards made by the GN can be made on the ground that it “erred in application of the NNI policy,” Sec. 18.3 of the NNI policy reads.
The NNI appeals board agreed to hear the appeal, but in a decision signed Oct. 29 by chairperson Barry Cornthwaite, and members Al Lahue and Sarah Maniapik, it dismissed Adlair’s appeal on several counts.
In their decision, the board members said they limited their deliberations only to documentation that was in the hands of the GN when the request for proposals for medevac services in the Kitikmeot region closed on April 8.
The board members did not consider information supplied after that date, including many petitions and letters of support submittted by Adlair.
The board decided it “could not accept new evidence nor could it consider facts not before the Contracting Authority [the GN] at the time of the making of its decision to award the contract,” the appeals board decision reads.
The board “was of the opinion that to do otherwise was to extend its jurisdiction.”
The board did not accept several arguments made by Jack Williams, the lawyer for Adlair.
According to information in the appeals decision, Williams argued the GN improperly applied the bid adjustments that can be made under the NNI policy for Inuit involvement in the contract.
The board determined “there is no merit in that argument.”
Williams also noted that the GN had asked for additional information when considering Adlair’s proposal, but did not seek information that was lacking in the documents Adlair submitted.
The board said it’s “quite clear” that certain information must be contained in the proposal to get bid adjustments, and that it’s not the job of the GN to request missing information.
This would lead to a competition process that would be “manifestly unfair,” the board said.
It also rejected the assertion that Adlair met the minimum requirements for the awarding of the contract as being “outside the jurisdiction of the appeals board.”
“For the above reasons, it is the decision of the NNI Contracting Appeals Board that the Appeal of Adlair Aviation (1983) Ltd. of the awarding of a contract to Aqsaqniq Airways Ltd…is dismissed,” the board said.
In an Oct. 31 minister’s statement in the Nunavut legislature, Health Minister Tagak Curley said the GN would respect the decision of the NNI board.
Curley said his department also praised Adlair for being a “good corporate citizen through its contributions and community service to Kitikmeot communities.”
Curley said his department would work towards a “smooth transition” of services to Aqaqniq Airways,” noting that “this change in providers is not expected to changed the level and quality of service provided.”
Reached in Cambridge Bay on Oct. 31, René Laserich, operations manager at Adlair, and son of its founder, aviation pioneer Willy Laserich, said he was unable to comment about the appeal decision because he was scheduling medevac flights.
Adlair recently received another one-month extension to its contract and will continue to supply medevac services to the Kitikmeot region until the end of November.