Québec City, June 13, 2018. – The Voluntary Reimbursement Program (VRP) established by the Government of Québec has allowed it to reach settlement agreements totalling $94,754,635.
Established in 2015 as a result of the work of the commission charged with investigating corruption in the construction industry (Charbonneau Commission), this innovative program gave natural persons and enterprises an opportunity to reimburse amounts improperly paid by public bodies in the course of a public contract that was signed after October 1, 1996.
VRP negotiations occurred under the leadership of the Honourable François Rolland, the administrator of the VRP.
Upon filing the report on the implementation of the VRP, Justice Minister and Attorney General of Québec Stéphanie Vallée noted that agreements had been concluded with 31 participants regarding 32 public bodies.
The VRP is zero-cost initiative for taxpayers. Indeed, participants were asked to pay a non-refundable deposit representing 2% of the sum that was initially offered and, once the settlement proposal was accepted, a sum representing 10% of the reimbursed amount.
The Voluntary Reimbursement Program has reached its goal: to recover part of the public money that the Administration had overpaid, prior to engaging in legal proceedings and on behalf of taxpayers. I would like to thank the Honourable François Rolland for his exemplary collaboration, diligence and determination to achieve the program’s objectives. This innovative program encouraged the settlement of disputes rather than confrontation and litigation over the cases. In two years, it allowed us to recover significant sums at zero cost to taxpayers, without involving the courts. It will be a source of inspiration for the future.
– Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec.
On March 24, 2015, the members of the National Assembly unanimously adopted the Act to ensure mainly the recovery of amounts improperly paid as a result of fraud or fraudulent tactics in connection with public contracts.
This exceptional act provided for the establishment of the VRP to facilitate civil proceedings against natural persons and enterprises that had committed acts of fraud and engaged in fraudulent tactics.
The administration of the program was entrusted to the Honourable François Rolland, former Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Québec.
The program was in effect from November 2, 2015, to December 15, 2017.
Its end coincides with the entry into force, on December 15, 2017, of Chapter III of the Act, which gives public bodies new tools to maximize the recovery of amounts that had been paid unfairly in the context of public contracts.
Although the limitation period is usually three years, public bodies can undertake remedies for harm they suffered up to 20 years ago. This extended period corresponds to the period examined by the Charbonneau Commission. In addition, the new provisions of the Act provide for a presumption of injury corresponding to 20% of the total amount of the contract, insofar as there is evidence of fault or fraudulent tactics. If a court allows an action to be brought under this chapter, the enterprises or persons at fault will have to pay an additional sum corresponding to 20% of any amount granted for injury, to cover expenses incurred by the public body for their prosecution.