Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Integra Air files lawsuit against CanWest, Alberta Health Services over air ambulance contract



MEDICINE HAT, AB — Integra Air has filed a lawsuit against Alberta Health Services and CanWest over the rewarding of an air ambulance contract to CanWest.

The lawsuit was filed in Medicine Hat civic court on January 3, and is in regards to the request for proposals AHS issued for an air ambulance contract in the province, which was awarded to CanWest. Integra Air alleges the request for proposals favoured CanWest over other companies.

“For us, it was the fact that we played by the rules, we’ve filed our RFP based on truth and things that existed, our hangars, our aircraft,” said Integra Air CEO John Macek, over the phone from Calgary. “We were honest and upfront, and then we learned that none of that seemed to matter.”

Macek alleges CanWest did not meet the requirements of the request for proposal, saying they did not have a working hangar in place when the contract was awarded.

CanWest was awarded the contract to provide AHS air ambulance service for Medicine Hat in November. In December, the city approved hangar space for CanWest, which is currently under construction. Integra Air is currently providing the service until April 1, when CanWest is scheduled to take over.

Last week, CanWest CEO Jake Fehr told CHAT News that the hangar will be up and operating as scheduled. Fehr said Tuesday the company is not commenting on the lawsuit, as it is before the courts, but notes it will not impact construction on the new hangar.

CanWest provides air ambulance service for eight communities in the province, including Calgary and Edmonton. Macek is also concerned about one company offering air ambulance service for much of the province, citing West Wind Aviation in Saskatchewan as an example. A West Wind plane crashed near Fond du Lac last month, and had its air operation certificate suspended by Transport Canada not long after the crash. It’s an issue he discussed with Les Little, formerly of Bar XH in Medicine Hat.

“AHS always opted away from the one-carrier policy, because of this problem,” said Macek. “With eight of the 10 bases being operated by one person, one company, there is definitely a risk. If they have an accident or if Transport Canada shuts them down, then there’s no air ambulance service in Alberta, except for Alberta Central up in Fort McMurray.”

CHAT News reached out to Alberta Health Services for a comment, and they provided a statement from Darren Sandbeck, chief paramedic with AHS.

"Alberta Health Services has been assured by its contracted operator, CanWest, that appropriate hangar space will be ready by April 1, 2018,” the statement reads.

"With respect to the other matters, as they are now before the courts we are unable to provide any further comment other than to say that AHS remains confident that it conducted a fair RFP process with the goal of ensuring excellent air ambulance service across the province. With respect to any specific allegations that have been made, AHS denies any wrongdoing and will be preparing a full answer and defense in due course, vigorously defending the RFP process and resulting contract decision."

Macek says the request for proposals process was flawed and wants it restarted.

“It damages us, both reputation and financially,” he said. “ The (ideal) end result would be, I’d like to see the RFP quashed, and a new RFP issued and it done fairly, so that everybody has the same level playing field.”

Original article can be found here ➤ http://chatnewstoday.ca

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