MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo) tables bill to diversify Ontario’s supply chain

On Tuesday, April 13, Waterloo MPP and Official Opposition NDP Critic for Finance and Treasury Board, Catherine Fife, tabled a private member’s Bill 275, Supply Chain Management Amendment Act (Provincial Diverse Vendor Strategy), 2021. The bill is intended to diversify government procurement and to ensure that the province’s economic recovery from COVID-19 is equitable and inclusive.

OSPE would like to commend MPP Fife for tabling this important bill. On September 22, 2020, OSPE sent a letter to the Ontario Government, outlining long-term recommendations for the post-COVID recovery plan. One of the recommendations made focused on the importance of considering diversity and inclusion in procurement.

OSPE recommends that:

The provincial government should implement supply chain diversity policies. This will enable the province to use procurement to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion. The benefits of a diverse supply chain are well documented in research done by the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and the Conference Board of Canada, amongst others. Small to medium sized enterprises owned by women and members of other equity seeking groups provide value to large organizations, reduce the risk of streamlined supplier pipelines, and lead to economic growth. The federal government has committed to increasing the participation of under-represented groups and Indigenous businesses in federal procurement, while cities like Toronto have established social procurement programs with similar objectives. It is imperative that the provincial government establish this to ensure that engineering companies led by women and members of equity seeking groups are provided with access to public procurement opportunities.

Bill 275 lays the groundwork for a provincial diverse vendor strategy that seeks to create a more equitable economy and diversify and grow our domestic supply chain. The amendment requires the development and implementation of a provincial diverse vendor strategy which recognizes the importance of diversity amongst vendors.

As the largest procurer of engineering services, government needs to consider the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion through procurement policy. Current procurement policies are focused on low-bid selection, which does not return the best possible outcome, nor does it contribute the growth of diverse companies.

The changes proposed by this bill will significantly benefit small to medium enterprises which have been hard hit by COVID-19. These enterprises, many of which are owned by women or members of equity seeking groups, play an important role in fueling innovation through the creation and commercialization of new products, services, and processes. Providing these organizations the opportunity to compete for government contracts will aid in their economic success and ultimately fuel great economic growth across the province.

Supplier diversity is only one aspect of OSPE’s recommendations on how the government can transform procurement policy. If you are interested in learning more about OSPE’s recent campaign on Quality Based Selection (QBS) please visit https://advocacy.ospe.on.ca/ and join us on May 26, 2021 for our QBS webinar

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