May 12th, 2020
LETTER: The government must be transparent & explain how Dynamic Air Shelters got a contract to provide unwanted tents
Chair of Dynamic Air Shelters board also sits on COVID-19 Supply Council
Dear Minister Anand,
I am writing to you today with regard to a contract awarded by Indigenous Services Canada to Dynamic Air Shelters to provide medical tents. These tents were made to be shipped to Pukatawagan, Manitoba for Mathias Colomb First Nation. The community had not requested these tents, and had instead asked to have their youth centre retrofitted into a temporary quarantine space. As I noted on May 8th, 2020, in a letter to Minister Miller, the decision to send these tents without proper communication was unwanted, unneeded, dangerous, and simply wrong.
While bringing in unwanted medical tents was an already dangerous decision, it is equally concerning that a member of the COVID-19 Supply Council, Cathy Bennett, chairs the Board of Dynamic Air Shelters. This raises serious questions about why an unrequested order was shipped to a remote First Nation from a company with close ties to the supply council charged with advising you on emergency procurement options. The Government of Canada is facing an unprecedented emergency situation and things are moving quickly - but Canadians must have faith that procurement efforts are wholly in the public interest.
What steps are you taking as a department to ensure that procurement contracts are being awarded fairly, in accordance with need and without regard to political connections? What processes are in place to avoid conflicts of interest?
With regard to this specific contract, can you explain how this contract was awarded? Have other contracts been awarded to companies that would benefit members of the COVID-19 Supply Council?
This shipment created needless risk for no tangible benefit to a remote community at great risk from COVID-19. Northern Manitobans remember that during the H1N1 crisis, the federal government sent body bags instead of real help. It is critically important that we not repeat the mistakes of past disease outbreaks.
Canadians need answers. I look forward to your reply.
MP Niki Ashton (Churchill--Keewatinook Aski)