COVID-19 Supply Council in support of Canada’s response and recovery: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates—July 23, 2020

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Key messages

Mandate

The Government of Canada has created a COVID-19 Supply Council which brings together a diverse group of leaders to provide the government with advice on the procurement of critical goods and services required as part of Canada’s COVID-19 response and recovery.

The council is also providing advice on building innovative and agile supply chains for goods in wide use such as masks, gloves and disinfectants, including production, sourcing, shipping and distribution strategies as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve.

Structure of the council

The council is an advisory body reporting to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, who serves as the Chair of the council. The council consists of 16 members from across the public, private and non-profit sectors. Members were selected for their expertise and leadership in their respective fields and their work on the council is on a voluntary basis.

The council first met on May 8, 2020, and will be convened until the end of the year, a term that the minister can extend if circumstances require it.

Current status

The council held its first meeting on May 8, 2020. The focus of the meeting was a roundtable discussion during which each council member provided a brief overview of the work their organization or sector was playing in supporting the supply of goods required to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Topics raised included the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) in various regions and sectors, the need for PPE in various sectors, and innovative practices to manage through this crisis, including establishing partnerships and new approaches.

The council’s second meeting was held on May 28, 2020. The council’s discussion focused on efforts underway to support buyers and sellers of PPE in the Canadian market. Council members discussed existing initiatives in provinces, territories, private sector and non-profit organizations to help link buyers and sellers of PPE, as well as the importance of providing information such as product specifications and guidance on the appropriate use of PPE in workplaces. Council members provided feedback and ideas for additional supports and tools that may be of assistance to Canadian buyers and sellers of PPE.

The council’s third meeting was held on June 22, 2020. The council’s discussion focused on the increased demand for PPE and essential supplies as the Canadian economy gradually restarts. Council members noted that in some instances Canadian businesses and not-for-profit organizations are finding it easier to access PPE and other necessary supplies than was the case earlier on in the pandemic, while the cost of purchasing these goods can represent a challenge for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Members also discussed innovative practices in Canada and abroad that businesses and not-for-profit organizations were putting into place to help support public health measures. The discussion also touched on the importance of governments, industry and the not-for-profit sector of promoting the wearing of face coverings in order to facilitate a safe reopening.

Meetings

The council will meet regularly at the call of the chair, and will meet by teleconference or videoconference given current travel restrictions.

Council members may recommend that the minister invite experts as guest speakers for specific council meetings where additional input may be warranted.

Remuneration and other expenses

The members of the council are appointed by the minister and volunteer their time for the work of the council.

Should members of the council be required to travel, they are eligible to be reimbursed for their travel, living and other expenses related to their work while absent from their ordinary place of work or residence. This reimbursement will be made in accordance with Treasury Board directives.

Secretariat

The secretariat led by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) provides the council with the administrative services and facilities it needs to perform its duties and functions. The secretariat supports the minister in developing agendas for council meetings and identifying key public policy issues on which the minister should seek the council’s advice. The secretariat also engages in fact-finding to inform the deliberations of the council, including interviewing experts who are not members of the council.

Communications

The minister is the sole spokesperson for the work of the council and is responsible for approving all communications material that would be made available publicly. Following council meetings, the minister may direct the secretariat to issue a public read-out of key recommendations or decisions.

Confidentiality and conflict of interest

Council members are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all proprietary, confidential or privileged information that they are provided and are expected to sign a non-disclosure agreement to that effect prior to volunteering their time for the work of the council. Members should also disclose to the secretariat any instances where their involvement in the council could lead to a conflict of interest.

Selection of members

Council members were selected by the chair to represent a diverse range of private and not-for-profit organizations. This inherently means that they have links with organizations that may have sought or received government funding, engaged in lobbying activities on matters of public policy or, very rarely, bid on or been awarded contracts with the Government of Canada.

However, the Supply Council has no involvement in decisions related to legislative proposals, policy or program design, awarding of financial benefits, or awarding of contracts on behalf of the federal government. It is common practice for PSPC to engage suppliers in discussions on general matters related to procurement policies and practices, and the Supply Council builds on best practices for managing stakeholder engagements with organizations that may have commercial interests in Government of Canada procurement processes.

PSPC has reviewed the affiliations of Supply Council members to ensure awareness of areas where there may be risk of a real or perceived conflict of interest between members’ affiliations and the topics being raised for discussion at the Supply Council. Care is taken to ensure that agenda items are general in nature and do not disclose privileged information related to matters such as funding programs or active contracting processes that could lead to potential conflicts of interest. As a further precaution, members have signed an agreement requiring them to recuse themselves in the event that an agenda item inadvertently poses a potential risk of real or perceived conflict of interest.

Indigenous representation

Tabatha Bull, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business was selected to ensure that Indigenous businesses have a voice at the Supply Council table. Her input helped PSPC include information on Indigenous businesses involved in supplying PPE in the recently launched PPE supply hub website.

Changes to terms of reference

These terms of reference may be reviewed periodically, and amendments may be made when deemed appropriate by the chairperson. Changes cannot, however, cause the terms of reference to deviate significantly from the council’s intent.

Membership

The following is a list of the COVID-19 Supply Council members:

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