NDP introduces legislation for better procurement policy

New purchasing law aimed at supporting local business, long-term savings

The NDP tabled The Fairness for Saskatchewan Businesses in Government Procurement Act Monday, which is aimed at ensuring Saskatchewan businesses do not keep losing out while government contracts are continually handed to companies from other provinces or countries.

"This government's current procurement policy is lazy and it's not getting the best value for Saskatchewan taxpayers," said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. "And it’s leaving Saskatchewan companies out.

"Saskatchewan steel companies tell us they're in lay-off mode because of a lack of work and part of the blame for that is on this government's shoulders, because it keeps giving contracts to companies from Ontario, Quebec, California and Texas. It’s not right that local businesses are having to cut back while the benefits of Saskatchewan’s economy are going to companies and workers from outside our borders."

The Saskatchewan government considers only lowest initial price in procuring products and services, failing to take into account a variety of factors that often lead to higher final prices and lower quality products. Meanwhile, other provincial governments have more sophisticated procurement policies as well as clauses that ensure support for bids from their own province.

For a year and a half, Saskatchewan’s steel fabrication industry has been pressuring the government behind the scenes for changes to its procurement policies, but the government continues to fail to act. Their frustration is rooted in the fact that Saskatchewan companies aren’t getting work in other provinces – where procurement criteria favours companies from those provinces or where other government policies give local companies a competitive advantage. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan work is frequently going to out-of-province companies, too, as a result of this government’s short-sighted and overly-simplistic policies.

"All Saskatchewan businesses want is a level playing field," said Wotherspoon. “The NDP is proposing a level playing field with a fair procurement policy that promotes the interests of the people living and working here and the businesses that employ workers and pay taxes here."

Replacing the overly-simplistic lowest-initial bid policy, the NDP bill proposes a more sophisticated nine-category evaluation of bids. The bill defines the following as factors in procurement:
1.     Initial price;
2.     Quality of good or service;
3.     Product history;
4.     Supplier experience;
5.     Warranty;
6.     Delivery schedule;
7.     Final total price;
8.     Local knowledge and local net benefit; and
9.     Previous performance on government contracts, as specified in any applicable performance review.

The premier has criticized local knowledge provisions in other provinces, but has indicated full support for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, which includes a clause allowing local knowledge provisions, such as the one included in Ontario's procurement policy.

"It’s common sense that there’s a benefit to hiring a local company," said Wotherspoon. “For every dollar of a government manufacturing contract that goes to a Saskatchewan company, $3.15 in economic spinoff benefits the province. To fail to take that into account – along with quality, warranty and other relevant factors – is lazy, and an obvious failure to get the best deal for both Saskatchewan businesses and taxpayers.”

Wotherspoon said businesses in Saskatchewan know how to get the job done, and pointed to out-of-province contractors that have used cold weather as an excuse for project delays or cost overruns.

“Changes need to happen now,” said Wotherspoon. “Unlike this government, we’re motivated to ensure Saskatchewan businesses and Saskatchewan workers benefit from today’s economy – which, in turn, helps to build a more stable economy for tomorrow.”

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus