The City of Winnipeg is looking at implementing a social procurement policy for those wishing to bid on city work.
Some of the ideas the executive policy committee are considering include awarding points to bidders who demonstrate efforts to hire under-skilled workers or train underrepresented groups. The city is also looking at establishing a bid value for community benefits by looking at cities with similar policies.
The Winnipeg Construction Association (WCA) noted that city officials are still in the early stages of social procurement discussions so its final policy decision remains to be seen.
“WCA doesn’t necessarily oppose social procurement, but we are left with many questions about the ultimate goals of the proponents,” said Darryl Harrison, WCA director of stakeholder engagement and advocacy. “It seems that ‘social procurement’ can mean different things to different people, so if there is a social procurement policy it should clearly define the goals and be based on measurable outcomes.”
Harrison explained that some federal projects and Manitoba projects have required Indigenous participation targets so some in the Manitoba industry do have experience with social procurement.
Harrison added the WCA intends to stress to the city that any policy that makes the award of tenders more subjective could be bad for the industry.
“It is dangerous to move away from an objective evaluation criterion for tender bids to a more subjective approach,” said Harrison. “When there is a lack of clarity of the evaluation (best price versus best value) and how exactly best value would be measured, there can be a breakdown in the trust of the tendering process.”
He said that evaluating bids is a difficult job and those involved in the process need to have all the tools to explain why one bidder fared better than another.
“This discussion is in its infancy in Winnipeg but WCA is and will be involved,” said Harrison. “We already have a respectful relationship with the administration and are looking forward to presenting the views of the industry.”
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