This is an update to our previous bulletin for federal government suppliers, identifying changes in federal government procurement-related processes (current to the date of publication of this bulletin) and some of the essential steps they should be actively taking at this time:
● Call for COVID-19 related goods and services continues: Businesses capable of providing goods or services to combat COVID-19 continue to be invited to complete this submission form.
○ Key reasons why businesses should complete this form:
● Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has indicated that businesses who complete the submission form may be shortlisted for rapid tender notices pertaining to these services.
● Before entering into new contracts for goods or services, government buyers are required to determine if the good or service being offered are already available from current suppliers under an existing procurement vehicle (such as a Supply Arrangement or a Standing Offer). If there is a pre-existing procurement vehicle available, then purchases must be made from that vehicle.
● Businesses that are offering goods or services that are unique to the COVID-19 pandemic response should ensure the description provided in their submissions clearly identifies these unique aspects of their products and how their products are relevant to the needs of the government.
● Contract Performance: PSPC has suspended federal construction operations for most projects in Ontario. Construction operations continue for critical health and safety infrastructure, major public institution research and security installations. A similar approach has been taken for projects in Quebec. These suspensions follow directives from the Ontario and Quebec governments regarding closures of non-essential businesses.
● Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT): The CITT has cancelled in-person appeal hearings until June 15, 2020. The CITT electronic filing system remains fully operational.
● Expedited review for COVID-19 medical-related imports: Under the Interim Order Respecting the Importation and Sale of Medical Devices for Use in Relation to COVID-19 made by the Minister of Health, an applicant for an authorization of importation or sale of a medical device that diagnoses, treats, mitigates or prevents COVID-19 may obtain an expedited review.
What Hasn’t Changed:
For more details on what has not changed, please see The COVID Effect - Changes to Federal Government Procurements and Programs.
● Procurement processes: No additional Contracting Policy Notices have been released since Contracting Policy Notice 2020-1: Response to COVID-19, which indicates that PSPC is “coordinating centralized purchases of specific commodities (for example, personal protective equipment)” on behalf of provinces and territories. The PSPC has clarified that this coordinated effort is in addition to efforts taken by the provinces and territories to secure their own supply.
● Solicitations deadlines and bid validity: No further notices have been published to extend solicitation periods or bid validity periods since March 19, 2020. The March 19th notice only addressed active solicitations bid validity period expiring on or before March 31, which were deemed extended to the end of April.
Those who are responding to solicitations are still encouraged to submit bids electronically using the Canada Post epost Connect application, where possible. For submissions that cannot be made electronically, the physical location of the Bid Receiving Unit for the National Capital Region remains open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2 to 3 p.m. (EST).
● Many government facilities remain closed: Only workers providing direct or indirect necessary services and support remain on-site.
● Contract performance for non-essential core activities remain curtailed: The Client Technical Authority may permit remote work where security requirements can be met.
● Continued services interruptions and/or program suspensions: The Contract Security Program and the Controlled Goods Program continue to operate at a reduced capacity and is processing requests on a priority-basis.
Essential Steps Contractors Should Take:
Contractors should continue to stay informed and review the terms and conditions of their contracts carefully if they have not yet done so.
Those with an active CITT file with their in-person hearings now cancelled should seek immediate legal advice regarding filing deadlines. Timelines for filing complaints at the CITT are very short (more details can be found in this bulletin).
As government needs and practices continue to shift to combat this pandemic, we remain dedicated in providing our clients with stability and certainty throughout the procurement process, and maintaining our commitment to provide timely and practical advice.
Marcia Mills is procurement counsel with the Fasken Ottawa office and has 20+ years of private and public sector experience working with governments and government suppliers. She can be reached at email@example.com
 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>.
 Public Services and Procurement Canada, “Supplying the Canadian healthcare sector in response to COVID-19” (24 April 2020), online: <https://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/comm/mc-cd/provisions-supplies-eng.html>.