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Review calls for working group to help frame social procurement policy

A report on establishing a social procurement policy recommends that the city set up a working group with representatives from industry, community intermediaries, Indigenous business, Chambers of Commerce, and the social enterprise sector.

“We are happy to participate in this working group because we feel there are principles that should be laid down first, to assist City Council in its deliberations of what a social procurement policy should look like,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said. “Importantly, the city must clearly frame the goals of such a policy, and it should be guided by a value proposition that does not impinge on open, competitive bidding on public tenders.”

The MHCA participated in a January 28 consultation session, along with social enterprise groups and others from the construction industry.

City administration was directed by City Council in December to hold consultations to identify social procurement practices for appropriate City tenders, “with a goal of establishing a bid value for community benefits, consistent with the practice of other comparable Canadian municipalities, including a cost analysis of tendering under a social procurement policy where appropriate.”

The administration’s report will be considered by the Executive Policy Committee March 17, where the construction industry will speak to the matter.

The report recommends the Winnipeg Public Service establish a working group “to advise on improving sustainability for the City’s procurement of goods and services.”

The report includes an overview of policies in other municipalities but it fell short of providing a cost/benefit analysis.

“It was difficult to identify a cost analysis of tendering under social procurement as many municipalities do not track those costs/benefits.”

The report to EPC sets out these next steps:

  • develop terms of reference for a working group made up of industry, community intermediaries, Indigenous business, Chambers of Commerce, and social enterprise representatives to provide input and feedback
  • develop a Sustainable Procurement Appendix to define priorities, including social and Indigenous. The Appendix will inform internal processes and could address definitions, priorities, and thresholds for action (such as the bid value for community benefits)
  • identify a target list of high-impact procurement opportunities (HIPOs) to pilot different social procurement mechanisms, such as low-value Purchasing Card purchases, set-asides for Indigenous businesses and social enterprises, social value clauses in RFPs, or community benefit requirements in a large construction project.