Winnipeg City Council has approved a motion to attach procurement requirements for hiring from targeted equity groups on the North End Water Pollution Control Centre project tender.
“We are concerned about the manner in which this decision was made, given that industry and a number of community organizations have worked hard to ensure Winnipeg’s social procurement policy and proposed action plan are workable and meaningful in their goals,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said.
The motion, passed Feb. 24 by City Council, requires that future phases of the pollution control centre’s construction include requirements that bidders include estimates of the number and classifications of skilled labour persons, “targets for employment of Indigenous peoples and other under-represented groups within the Manitoba market” and plans with organizations to promote employment and training initiatives for those groups.
The information will be evaluated as part of the bid, the motion states.
The decision gets ahead of the formulation of a finalized social procurement policy and an action plan to put into motion the use of the city’s purchases of goods, services and construction tenders to spread the benefits of its buying power to under-represented target groups, including Indigenous, unemployed, persons of colour and LGBT2S.
All representatives on the social procurement working group want to see benefits of procurement achieving social good, Lorenc said. But to ensure social procurement is delivered successfully – with verifiable lasting benefit for equity groups – it has to be done carefully.
The motion notes that bidders’ declarations of the employment numbers and training initiatives will be evaluated – how that will be done and given points in the awards process is a complicated and critical piece, Lorenc said. It touches upon the City’s commitment to fair, open tendering and is foundational to the ability to verify the commitment was delivered and to measure its impact.
“We are going to engage with the City as this project tender proceeds because of its implications for the social procurement policy and the action plan that is very much still in the development.”
The funding for the construction of the first phase of the north end sewage treatment plant was announced last summer. The total estimated cost for the treatment plant is $1.8 billion.