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‘Fairness adviser’ sought for St. John's hospital project

An extension to the Health Sciences Centre, a new home hub for mental health services, will cover the current site of the Agnes Cowan Hostel, pictured here. Before construction gets underway, there will be a review of qualifications and proposals. The province is seeking a fairness adviser for third-party oversight of that early work.
An extension to the Health Sciences Centre, a new home hub for mental health services, will cover the current site of the Agnes Cowan Hostel, pictured here. Before construction gets underway, there will be a review of qualifications and proposals. The province is seeking a fairness adviser for third-party oversight of that early work. - Ashley Fitzpatrick

Role common in province’s public-private partnership work

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is searching for companies interested in taking on the position of “fairness adviser” for early contracting on the new adult mental health and addictions facility in St. John’s.

The request for proposals (RFP) for the advisory role was issued at the end of June and will close on July 17.

The new facility is planned as an add-on to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, as part of re-housing the services currently offered in the aging Waterford Hospital.

The Health Sciences Centre addition is coming with an added commitment to having more community-based beds and mental health services throughout the province. The general concept for the facility was revealed by Premier Dwight Ball and Health Minister John Haggie in late March, while detailed design work must still be completed.

The fairness adviser is sometimes called a fairness monitor, or fairness commissioner, and is brought in as a third-party overseer on a project.

The exact cost of the new adult mental health and addictions facility is yet to be determined, but is generally estimated at $200 million, plus or minus 30 per cent.

According to information provided by the Department of Transportation and Works, the adviser is expected to ensure the procurement process is “equitable, open and transparent.”

It includes reviewing how documents from potential contractors are being sought, checking constantly for equal and appropriate communication with potential bidders, and reviewing evaluation criteria for proposals coming in.

The mental health care project is not the first in the province to include a fairness adviser. The role has appeared regularly where public-private partnerships are involved and has been included in the process for the new long-term care facility in Corner Brook, the hospital in Corner Brook and the new long-term care facilities in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor.

The advisers are required to provide a report after submissions in the request for qualifications (RFQ) stage, then again at the end of the RFP process.

RFP Solutions Inc. was named fairness adviser for the new Corner Brook long-term care centre and the Corner Brook hospital. In an April 26 report to the government on the hospital, for example, the adviser noted things like the number of changes to request documents and project meetings held for potential bidders.

The fairness adviser role is separate from the “financial and procurement advisory services.”

An RFP has also been issued for a financial and procurement adviser for the new mental health and addictions facility in St. John’s. That call will close July 24.

Construction activity at the Health Sciences Centre, including the required tearing down of an existing hostel building, could start as early as 2019. But it’s unclear at this point when the project would be completed.


RELATED LINK:
RFP Solutions – Corner Brook hospital fairness advisor report

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