Auditor General's Report

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

March 2, 2011 - During Session today, the Minister of Transportation responded to the mid-project performance audit of the Deh Cho Bridge construction project by the Auditor General of Canada.


Mr. Speaker, investing in infrastructure to improve access to communities is a key priority of the Government of the Northwest Territories. When the Deh Cho Bridge is complete, it will benefit NWT residents by providing a safe, reliable all-weather link from the South to the North Slave region, providing access and economic benefits to all residents.

Today I rise to respond to the mid-project performance audit of the Deh Cho Bridge construction project by the Auditor General of Canada.

The Auditor General identified concerns with the management of partnership risks in Phase 1 of the project which led to project delays and cost increases. We acknowledge those concerns. She also notes that the Department of Transportation has put a framework in place to manage key risks in Phase 2, and that quality assurance and quality control have improved on the project as a result.

Mr. Speaker, the Government has accepted the three recommendations of the Auditor General, and has incorporated lessons learned from Phase 1 into future capital project management. These steps are already underway as part of our commitment to best practices and prudent management.

I note that the Auditor General took no issue with our belief, which I have often stated, that the Deh Cho Bridge is being built to the highest standards of safety and quality, meeting best practices for design quality and construction standard.

The Auditor General pointed to the need to assure the Legislative Assembly and the public that we are effectively managing the remaining risks on the project. This is something I am pleased to do.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our project team. They have identified and addressed each and every quality assurance and quality control issue on the project. Steps have been taken to ensure that any additional risks are identified, mitigated, and managed to ensure a sound and safe Bridge.

Our risk management processes were designed to be worthy of this important piece of infrastructure by reflecting the most current best practices in bridge building. We have engaged risk management experts to provide input and advice on risk issues. We have put in place an effective project management process, and our team is expert in the roles they play. We require industry best practices for quality control and quality assurance. Finally, we continuously identify risks and track mitigation measures. I am confident that we are adequately managing risks to ensure the highest standards of quality and safety are maintained on this project.

That is not to say that we can prevent all risks. As with any capital project, there are risks related to schedule, cost, and technical issues we are addressing.

Mr. Speaker, despite the current schedule delays caused by late steel deliveries, we project that the Bridge will be built within budget. The contractor has put on an extra shift to help ensure the North side launch of the superstructure is completed before break-up. All bridge components will be delivered and on-site before then. The contractor has provided us a revised construction schedule which we are evaluating to determine whether the contracted completion date can be met without compromising quality and safety, and I will update this House when that review is complete.

Finally, we are still refining our toll collection system to ensure we are able to capture all of the revenue that is due from commercial operators using the Bridge. We have a team working hard to address administrative details that remain, particularly the capture of revenue from occasional traffic. This will be completed before the Bridge opens to traffic. Mr. Speaker, Members of this Legislative Assembly have visited the project, and I would like to again extend the invitation for Members to come see the work that has been done and to talk to our world class project team. They are building a safe, reliable, high quality all-weather connection that will contribute to sustainable, vibrant and safe communities.

This will be a Bridge that our children will be proud of and that people from around the world will come and admire.

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

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