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[COVID-19] The pandemic has not benefited Quebec suppliers as much since 2021

A handful of suppliers have benefited considerably from over-the-counter contracts during the state of health emergency. In addition to a fabulous rapid test contract awarded to the firm Investissements Gest-E, it is the American manufacturer Cardinal Health which has established itself as the main supplier of personal protective equipment in the health sector since 2021, to the detriment of companies here.

The American company Cardinal Health cornered the Quebec market for personal protective equipment (PPE) – which includes gloves, gowns and masks – from 2021, a few months after the creation of the Government Supply Center (CAG). This organization has been coordinating all government purchases since September 2020.

The medical equipment giant — the vast majority of whose products are made in China — has landed 31 contracts totaling $178.9 million since the start of 2021, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services. social services (MSSS). These agreements are in addition to those of 2020, valued at 22.8 million.

In fact, only the firm Investissements Gest-E, also known as Medsup, benefited more from the health context in Quebec with the huge over-the-counter contract of $433 million it obtained for the delivery of tests. rapid antigens of COVID-19. It was in January 2022, during the wave of the Omicron variant, when Quebec lacked these tests.

Quebec manufacturers of PPE, although prized by the government at the start of the pandemic, were also excluded from contracts awarded during this period. This is the case of Supermax Healthcare, owner of a manufacturing plant for disinfectants, gowns and medical masks in Longueuil.

The company, which obtained $330 million in contracts in the first six months of the pandemic, has not signed any new agreement with the ministry since the fall of 2020. The data from the MSSS surprises — even troubles — the owner and Vice-President of Supermax, Sylvain Bergeron: “The government always repeats that you have to buy from Quebec and there, it’s an American company [qui va chercher la part du lion]. »

“I think it would have bothered me less if it was ADM Medicom [un concurrent québécois] who had these contracts,” he adds. Based in Pointe-Claire, AMD Medicom has won around thirty contracts totaling 450 million. Of this number, very few agreements were concluded after 2020.

“I must admit that I wonder. We had an option right for 2021 for a contract for 120 million mask units. The acquisition department of the Government of Quebec told us that it was not going to take advantage of this right because it had a lot of this equipment. And there we see what is happening. It’s frustrating. »

Especially since, he recalls, his company injected $10 million into its Longueuil plant last year to increase production. AMD Medicom announced in June 2021 to invest 39 million for a new factory to produce a material which is used in the manufacture of surgical and pediatric masks as well as N95 type respirators.

Several millions in contracts

Among the suppliers having received the largest sums since 2021 is 24/7 Health Care Expertise, a company in health care and vaccination services, which has obtained nearly $166 million in contracts. Marketing agency Cossette lands fourth in the rankings, having secured a $105 million deal earlier this year for “media buys related to COVID-19 related advertising campaigns. “.

More than $46 million was also granted to the Garda SENC security group for surveillance during work in certain hospitals and the deployment of security guards “for COVID-19 needs”, we can read in the report. detailed from the MSSS.

A $34,375 contract was also concluded by the McGill University Health Center for the purchase of “chocolate, sugar, sweeteners and confectionery”.

Among all the contracts issued since the start of the pandemic, a large majority (61%) are dedicated to the supply of goods. There are 623 contracts related to services of a technical nature (13%), 786 contracts related to professional services (17%), and 318 contracts for construction work (7%).

With Francois Carabin

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