Creating opportunities for Indigenous businesses

The Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels (WAHV) project is offering Indigenous businesses an opportunity to play a significant role in the clean-up of Canadian waters. The majority of identified abandoned vessels are either located on Indigenous territory or have an adverse impact on Indigenous communities.

An abandonned vessel of concern

As Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) ramps up its contracting for WAHV, we will be supporting Indigenous businesses in learning how to compete for government contracts.

Under PSPC’s current procurement plan for WAHV, we recognize the importance of directing efforts towards under-represented groups, such as businesses owned and led by Indigenous Peoples. As such, an Indigenous firm will be offered the contract in situations where a non Indigenous firm and Indigenous firm have equal skills and capability to carry out the work.

Where a non-Indigenous firm wins a contract, we will work with the contractor to find ways to include an Indigenous socio-economic benefits component, such as hiring and training Indigenous employees or sub-contracting Indigenous firms. For example, if a contractor requires tow truck operators to transport abandoned vessels, they can request that the work be offered to a qualified Indigenous tow truck company.

The strategy is to give existing qualified Indigenous suppliers and their communities increased economic opportunities while simultaneously planning for the longer term by building skills and capacity among Indigenous businesses. Through the WAHV project, PSPC is able to collaborate with other government departments, industries and Indigenous sectors to create more opportunities for Indigenous businesses in federal procurement.

One way we are creating more opportunities for Indigenous businesses is through a change in the provisions for supply arrangements. Normally, when the bidding period for a Request for Supply Arrangements closes, a business can’t qualify under the supply tool for another year. This condition will be dropped under the WAHV initiative, meaning that any business can be added to the supply arrangements at any time.

“Procurement is no longer just about buying goods and services,” said Leah Jagodics, Supply Team Leader and the Indigenous Procurement Strategy lead on WAHV. “But also about creating business relationships, stimulating innovation, and achieving value and benefits beyond just price.”

PSPC is working closely on the WAHV project with Indigenous Services Canada, which has built a data base of some 2,000 Indigenous businesses willing and qualified to do business with the Government of Canada. The department has also conducted studies throughout the country to determine the extent of Indigenous business capacity.

There are an estimated 50,000 Indigenous businesses in Canada, many of them small, local family-run enterprises, and many with growth potential.

“It’s our responsibility through reconciliation efforts to create business capacity, and to help with skills development,” said Leah. “If an Indigenous business is currently unable to qualify for a marine contract, our goal is to offer training and mentorship opportunities to build their skills and knowledge to eventually get them there.”

For more information, visit the National Shipbuilding Strategy web page.

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