Federal government suppliers should take note of the following changes (current to the date of publication of this bulletin) and some of the essential steps they should be actively taking at this time:
The recently released Contracting Policy Notice 2020-1: Response to COVID-19  indicates that PSPC is “coordinating centralized purchases of specific commodities (for example, personal protective equipment)” on behalf of provinces and territories; however, there are no other official announcements in this regard.
See our bulletin, How the Government Procurement Approach is Likely to Shift, which explains possible changes to procurement practices and the basis for making such changes.
Solicitations Deadlines and Bid Validity:
As of March 19, 2020, the deadlines for many active solicitations have been extended, as well as the validity date of submitted bids.
- Numerous bid solicitations that were set to expire on or before March 31 will be extended for at least two weeks. Suppliers should continue monitor solicitations they are bidding on to determine whether this extension will apply to their particular solicitation.
- Numerous submitted bids that were set to expire on or before March 31 will be extended for at least one month from the current bid validity date. Bidders can withdraw their bids if they do not want to extend their bid validity. Suppliers should continue monitor buyandsell.gc.ca to determine whether their bid will be extended.
- Those responding to solicitations are encouraged, where possible, to submit bids electronically via epost Connect. Bidders should note as to whether the procurement they are participating in permits electronic submission before doing so, as it could lead to disqualification of the bid. Questions regarding submissions of bids may be directed to the appropriate regional Bid Receiving Unit here.
Access to government facilities:
- Many federal government departments and agencies have been closed, with only critical workers remaining on-site.
- Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has confirmed that contracts involving work in a government office may be curtailed, and only essential core activities, as determined by the Client Technical Authority, in a government office may continue.
- If security requirements can still be met, remote work may be allowed. The Client Technical Authority is responsible for these decisions.
PSPC invites those with questions to visit the following link: https://buyandsell.gc.ca/procurement-data/tenders/tenders-contacts.
Services Interruptions and/or Program Suspensions:
Certain government services have been temporarily closed or are advising of delayed responses:
- The Contract Security Program is operating at a reduced capacity and its client service centre is temporarily closed. Questions may be directed by email to email@example.com
Security clearance requests are now being prioritized:
- Personnel Screening Requests: now require a justification for priority processing in Section A of the personnel screening, consent and authorization form: TBS 330-23E (PDF).
- Private Sector Organization Screening: now requires a justification for priority processing for the security requirements checklist found here: https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/tbsf-fsct/350-103-eng.asp.
- The Controlled Goods Program utilizes the Contract Security Program client service centre as a contact point for enquiries. As the centre is currently closed, questions regarding the Controlled Goods Program may be directed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Controlled Goods Program services will be delayed as requests to support the government’s essential services are being prioritized. All new and incomplete applications for registration, exemption, renewal and amendment will be triaged and only priority files will be processed in accordance with the following prioritization objectives:
- Urgent requests related to a person who has access or must have access to controlled goods
- Actual or potential security breaches in relation to controlled goods
- The Canadian International Trade Tribunal has confirmed it is open for business and that its electronic filing system is fully operational. However, suppliers and those participating in an active complaints should note the following changes to its normal operations.
- The public is asked to refrain from visiting the premises without prior notice.
- In-person appeal hearings (case files beginning with AP, EP, EA) up to May 8, 2020, inclusive, are cancelled. Parties to affected cases will be contacted by the CITT.
- Requests for extensions to filing deadlines will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Essential Steps Contractors should Take:
- Stay informed - sign up to receive buyandsell notices as they are released here.
- Review the terms and conditions of all contracts to determine the impact of facility closures, stop work orders or the inability to meet the requirements of the Contractor Security Program or the Controlled Goods Program because of reduced services or closed service centres. In particular, note:
- What rights the contracting authority has to cancel orders for goods or services and what rights of payment are provided
- Whether contract payments may be terminated if personnel cannot access federal government facilities to complete the contracted-for work
- If the contracting authority (or other government official) can issue a full or partial ‘stop work’ order, as well as the duration of the stop work order
- What general or other rights of termination exist, including those for stop work orders that continue beyond a specified period
- Whether the contract contains an excusable delay provision and what requirements must be met in order to make an excusable delay claim. See our bulletin to learn more on that topic here.
- If you have an active CITT file, or are considering launching a complaint, continue to monitor the CITT website and seek immediate legal advice regarding filing deadlines. Timelines for filing complaints at the CITT are very short. Learn more in our bulletin.
Can you assist with COVID-19 related goods and services in Canada manufacturing or the supply of skilled workers?
Suppliers capable of providing goods and services that can help combat COVID-19 are invited to learn more here.
The government is also seeking Canadian-based businesses who can assist in manufacturing medical supplies, or can provide facilities, equipment or a skilled workforce. Suppliers are asked to contact Innovation, Science and Economic Development (formerly, Industry Canada).
 Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, “Contracting Policy Notice 2020-1: Response to COVID-19” (23 March 2020), online: <https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/policy-notice/contracting-policy-notice-2020-1-emergency-contracting.html>.