Complaints about public contracts or contracts by mutual agreement

Is a complaint the appropriate course of action?

In the case of requests for information or clarification about the content of documents from an ongoing call for tenders, qualification of suppliers, certification of goods, or awarding of a contract by mutual agreement pursuant to subparagraph 4 of the first paragraph, section 13 of the Act respecting contracting by public bodies (ACPB), the appropriate course of action is to contact the person listed in the notice published on the electronic tendering system (SEAO). If the documents from an ongoing call for tenders, qualification of suppliers, certification of goods, or awarding of a contract by mutual agreement pursuant to subparagraph 4 of the first paragraph of section 13 of the ACPB include conditions that do not ensure the honest and fair treatment of bidders, do not allow bidders to compete although they are qualified to meet the requirements, or are otherwise not compliant with the normative framework, the appropriate course of action is to first communicate your concerns to INRS by contacting the person listed in the notice published on the SEAO.


Filing a complaint

Under the ACPB, complaints can only be filed by:

  • An enterprise or a group of enterprises interested in participating in the awarding process or its representative

For the purposes of the Act, “enterprise” means a legal person established for a private interest, a general, limited or undeclared partnership or a natural person who operates a sole proprietorship.


Award process

An enterprise can file a complaint about one of the following award processes:

  • To maintain your right of recourse under the ACPB, all complaints must be filed in accordance with the . Complaints must be submitted on the form provided by Autorité des Marchés publics (AMP), downloadable here.

Duly completed forms must be emailed to the following two addresses:

plaintescontratspublics@inrs.ca, for consideration by INRS

and

lien-courriel@amp.gouv.qc.ca, for consideration by the AMP.


Awarding a contract by mutual agreement

An enterprise may also express its interest in entering into a mutual agreement contract equal to or above INRS’s public tender threshold and governed by the award process set out in subparagraph 4 of the first paragraph of section 13 of the ACPB. However, the enterprise must be able to demonstrate that it is capable of carrying out the contract according to the requirements and obligations stated in the notice of intention published on the SEAO at least 15 days before the contract is signed.

Enterprises that wish to indicate their interest in such contracts must send an email to plaintescontratspublics@inrs.ca, clearly indicating their ability to carry out the contract according to the detailed description of the needs and obligations, as defined in the notice of intention.

Submitting a complaint or an expression of interest

The duly completed complaint form or email containing an expression of interest should be sent to plaintescontratspublics@inrs.ca no later than:

  • The complaint deadline specified on the SEAO, for complaints about an award process

or

  • Five days before the projected contract date, for expressions of interest and proof of ability to carry out a contract after INRS publishes on the SEAO a notice of intention to enter into a contract by mutual agreement

Once INRS receives your complaint form or your email, a confirmation of receipt will be emailed back to you.


Withdrawing a complaint or an expression of interest

A complaint or an expression of interest must be withdrawn before the complaint deadline or no later than five days before the projected contract date, respectively. An email should be sent to plaintescontratspublics@inrs.ca clearly indicating the name of the enterprise that filed the complaint or the expression of interest and why it is being withdrawn.


Consideration of the complaint or expression of interest and transmission of the decision

INRS will consider the complaint or the expression of interest based on the information provided by the enterprise:

  • On the complaint form for documents related to the award process, or
  • In the email demonstrating the enterprise’s ability to carry out the contract according to the requirements and obligations specified in the notice of intention


A complaint or expression of interest is inadmissible if the enterprise is taking or has taken legal action in relation to the same facts set forth in the complaint or email.

If warranted, INRS may contact the enterprise for more information on the reasons set forth in the complaint or email.

INRS will transmit its decision regarding the enterprise’s complaint or expression of interest by email:

  • After the complaint deadline but no later than three days before the tender closing date. If the tender closing date is sooner, it will be postponed by the number of days needed to ensure compliance with the foregoing. If necessary, the tender closing date will be postponed by the number of days needed to allow for a minimum of seven days between the date INRS transmits its decision and the tender closing date.
  • For expressions of interest following the publication of a notice of intention, at least seven days before the projected contract date. If the projected contract date is sooner, it will be postponed by the number of days needed to ensure compliance with the foregoing.


After an-depth consideration of the complaint or expression of interest, INRS will take the required corrective action if warranted. Otherwise, if the enterprise disagrees with the INRS decision, it can file a complaint with AMP no later than three days after receiving the decision.

If the enterprise does not receive the INRS decision within the required time frame, it can complain to the AMP:

  • For complaints about an award process, no later than the tender closing date set by INRS
  • For expressions of interest following the publication of a notice of intention, at least one day before the projected date of the mutual agreement contract specified by INRS on the SEAO.


Prohibition against reprisal

Enterprises must be able to file a complaint without fear of reprisal by INRS. Pursuant to section 51 of the Act respecting the Autorité des Marchés publics, it is forbidden to take reprisal against a person or partnership so they will abstain from filing a complaint with the AMP. Persons or partnerships who believe they are victims of retaliation may file a complaint with the AMP. The AMP will determine whether the complaint has merit and make any recommendations it considers appropriate to the chief executive officer of the public body concerned by the reprisal. After reviewing the case the AMP will notify the complainant of its findings and of any recommendations, if applicable

For more information, see the Procédure sur les contrats d’approvisionnement, de services, de technologies de l’information et de travaux de construction de l’INRS. (PDF)