Improving Government Procurement in Canada: A Call for Action

Alshaar Ansari
Alshaar Ansari Politics News
4 Min Read
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Government procurement, which refers to the purchase of goods, services, and construction services by the government, plays a significant role in the Canadian economy. This accounted for 14.6% of Canada’s GDP in 2021, translating to hundreds of billions of dollars. There are government procurement obligations in international trade agreements that ensure Canadian suppliers have access to these markets transparently and without discrimination.

The Current State of Government Procurement in Canada

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The Council of Canadian Innovators’ report titled “Buying Ideas: Procuring Public Sector Innovation in Canada” highlights inefficiencies and challenges within government procurement process across the country. The report stresses that current federal and provincial cultures around government procurement do not serve either the Canadian economy or even the state itself.

Failure In Technology Services

According to this study, approximately one-third of essential government digital applications are unwell while nearly two-thirds of departmental/agency applications need modernization urgently. Notably high profile procurement scandals such as Phoenix payroll system and military procurement contracts reveal there is need for improvement.

Recommendations for Improvement

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For instance, as a starting point towards resolving this problem among others, CCI has formulated six proposals which should be put into consideration by all policy makers in the country. These include benchmarks for small- and medium-sized enterprise procurements; forward commitment framework; an innovation standard on procurement; commercialization primacy under procuring programming; empowering innovating purchasing through Industrial Research Assistance Program; & creating a federal purchasing concierge.

Government Procurement in International Trade Agreements

Canada is working on improving its foreign government procurement market access for Canadian suppliers through international trade agreements. Most free trade agreements involving Canada incorporate a chapter on government procurement while it is also party to World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).

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Resources for Suppliers

Access to information on procurement policy and guidelines, as well as Government of Canada tender notices is facilitated through CanadaBuys for Canadian suppliers. The Canadian Free Trade Agreement website also provide procurement information about the Canadian provinces and territories.

The Role of the Office of the Procurement Ombud

The Office of the Procurement Ombud is an impartial autonomous institution that mediates in contract disputes between businesses and the federal government. This office investigates complaints, offers dispute resolution services, and examines systemic problems with federal contracting to make recommendations for improvement.

Public Services and Procurement Canada Reports

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Various reports such as Departmental Plans, Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies, Departmental Results Reports and Evaluation Reports are published by Public Services and Procurement Canada which give insight into how the department has performed and its future plans.

The Need for Change

Government procurement is about value for money to the public. Improving procurements process could help rectify decades-long underperformance on innovation in Canada, thus enabling Canadian suppliers compete globally.

Last Updated on by Alshaar Ansari

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