Supplying the Canadian response to COVID-19: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates—July 23, 2020

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As the Government of Canada’s central purchaser, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is procuring goods and services required by federal departments and agencies, such as personnel protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, nursing and support services, air charters, accommodations, transportation, and security. This includes procuring significant quantities of PPE and medical supplies on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), for distribution to provinces and territories. In some cases, PSPC may procure pandemic-related supplies and equipment earmarked for provinces, territories, municipalities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry etc.

The surge in global demand for PPE and medical supplies due to the pandemic has resulted in a highly competitive marketplace and volatile supply chains. COVID-19 related procurements have been carried out under a national security exception (NSE). An urgent and accelerated timeline for contracting has been required in many cases, and solicitation documents have not been published on the Government of Canada’s Buy and sell website. PSPC has engaged the domestic and international supply communities through other means.

Notably, a call to action was posted on the Buy and sell webpage from March 12 to July 10, 2020, to seek information on the ability of suppliers to provide emergency products and services. More than 26,000 unique responses were received, including nearly 17,000 from Canadian suppliers. PSPC has signed nearly 150 contracts with companies around the world as a result of the call to action; the majority of these were awarded to Canadian suppliers.

As PSPC enters the next phase of the response for COVID-19 related procurements, the priority is to revert to competitive procurement processes and post solicitation documents on the Buy and sell webpage, particularly where the timeline to secure a particular good or service allows for more flexibility or the search for information or sources of supply needs to be broadened. For example, recent competitive procurements for goods such as non-medical masks and face shields have received hundreds of bids.

New content has been published on the Buy and sell website to help suppliers find COVID-19 related competitive procurement opportunities. This includes support for suppliers who may be new to federal procurement.

PSPC is also taking steps to increase the number of contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses. For example:

Roles and responsibilities of other federal departments and agencies

Public Health Agency of Canada

Health Canada

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

National Research Council of Canada

The National Research Council (NRC) is collaborating with ISED's Innovative Solutions Canada Program to organize a COVID-19 Challenge Program, composed of teams of government, academic, and private sector partners, to address a range of medium-term needs of PHAC and Health Canada, including PPE, sanitization products, diagnostic and testing products, therapeutics, and disease tracking technology. The NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program will also build on its existing relationships with thousands of Canada’s most innovative small and medium-sized businesses to pose challenges to the marketplace for innovative solutions to address these needs. The most promising solutions will be selected for procurement, working with Innovative Solutions Canada.

Public Safety Canada

Public Safety Canada is the lead federal department with respect to the co-ordination of all government efforts with respect to addressing an emergency. It has a government operations committee that all other federal department and agencies feed into, as well as a federal/provincial/territorial committee to co-ordinate/manage efforts with provinces and territories.

Global Affairs Canada

Indigenous Services Canada

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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