Diversity in procurement: Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology—February 4, 2021

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Supplier diversity

Context

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is delivering on government commitments to increase the diversity of bidders on government contracts.

Suggested response

If pressed:

If pressed about data collection on diversity in procurement:

Background

As outlined in both the Speech from the Throne and the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the government is committed to increasing diversity in procurement, pursuing economic empowerment for specific communities, and supporting Black entrepreneurs.

Indigenous procurement

The department is working with Indigenous Services Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat to create more opportunities for Indigenous businesses to succeed and grow by creating a new target to have at least 5% of federal contracts awarded to businesses managed and led by Indigenous Peoples.

In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, PSPC, on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada and other federal departments and agencies, moved to urgently procure necessary personal protective equipment and other goods and services to protect front-line health care workers. Certain procurements, where possible, were directed to Indigenous suppliers. Specifically, procurement opportunities were opened to Indigenous businesses for non-medical disposable masks that resulted in signed contracts with 7 Indigenous firms for approximately $3 million for a total of 15 million non-medical disposable masks. One of the contracts was amended to exercise the option to procure an additional 20 million non-medical disposable masks for an additional $2.94 million. In addition, PSPC awarded contracts to 2 Indigenous companies that will each provide 250,000 non-surgical face masks with an option to purchase an additional 2 million masks over a 2-year period.

Black businesses pilot

To support Black businesses, PSPC launched the Black businesses pilot to expand bidding opportunities for small Black-owned or operated businesses. The pilot is also one of the initial tangible steps to respond to the June 2020 request from Canada’s Parliamentary Black Caucus for the Government of Canada to increase the number of procurement contracts for Black entrepreneurs. It also aligns with PSPC’s broader mandate to leverage procurement spending to generate socioeconomic benefits for Canadians.

The pilot also reflects the department’s continued support of the Black Entrepreneurship Program led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), by reducing barriers in procurement and helping Black-owned and led businesses in bidding on and receiving government contracts opportunities.

PSPC has engaged with associations representing Black-owned and led businesses in the development of the pilot. The initiative was well-received and we heard clear messages that federal procurement is seen as a key element in generating economic opportunity—including to lessen the impact of COVID-19—for small businesses owned or led by Black Canadians.

The Black businesses pilot will provide an opportunity to draw on success and lessons learned to inform the expanded use of targeted approaches to increase diversity in future procurements.

Outreach

The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) is developing a coaching service to assist diverse small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) with understanding the procurement process. The pilot will target women-led and women-owned SMEs. The new service will specifically assist experience bidders who have had limited success in bidding on tenders, offering personalized coaching to address specific areas of the bidding process where they require additional support.

The department has also established partnerships with associations representing businesses owned and led by indigenous, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit plus (LGBTQ2+), multicultural, women, and other socio-economically diverse groups to deliver seminars and presentations to their membership and other educational programs to help increase their participation in government procurement. For example, in fall 2020, OSME delivered a procurement module on Doing Business with the Government of Canada for the Black Business and Professional Association’s (BBPA) Boss Women Entrepreneur Program. Later in January, OSME is also participating in the BBPA’s Rise UP Pitch competition.

Effective November 2020, the National Supplier Advisory Committee welcomed a new private sector co-chair from the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, as well as new committee association members including the BBPA, the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers, and the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

PSPC is working with other government departments and agencies—such as Statistics Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada and ISED—to explore the market capacity of the underrepresented groups in Canada.

Social procurement

The department is developing a social procurement policy and program, which will enable the inclusion of socioeconomic outcomes into PSPC procurement.

Work is underway to enhance data collection with respect to under-represented groups. The social procurement policy will provide PSPC the authority to collect personal information (including race, gender, and other intersectional information on PSPC suppliers). This will allow PSPC to establish a baseline on the participation of Black suppliers, and other groups of suppliers in federal procurement and monitor progress over time.

To further enhance our understanding of the businesses with which the government is contracting, PSPC will complete the development and implementation of a procurement data strategy. This will contribute to strengthening the department’s capacity for evidence-based program design and reporting, including supporting efforts to increase the diversity of bidders in federal procurements and federal socio-economic goals.

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