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Reconciliation Update: How Regina and Other Municipalities Are Using Government Procurement to Advance Reconciliation

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Procurement Bulletin

On February 8, 2023, Regina’s City Council voted unanimously to approve the city’s first Indigenous Procurement Policy [PDF] (the “Policy”).

Effective immediately, Regina will award at least 20 percent of the total value of City contracts to Indigenous Vendors in Saskatchewan as part of the City’s reconciliation effort. Given that Regina spends over 200 million dollars annually on goods and services, the Policy, if implemented as planned, would represent at least 40 million dollars in contracts for Indigenous Vendors.

What is the Policy?

The Policy—developed in collaboration with a 23-member Indigenous Procurement Advisory Committee made up of Indigenous business leaders and not-for-profit organizations—commits all municipal departments and employees to provide “positive consideration in bid evaluations” to Indigenous Vendors.

In addition to ongoing consultations, Regina has engaged an Indigenous Procurement Partner to support the City as it rolls out the Policy.

What is an “Indigenous Vendor”?

Under the Policy, an “Indigenous Vendor” is:

  1. a sole proprietorship wholly owned by an Indigenous person, i.e., a status Indian under the Indian Act, a Métis person, or an Inuit who resides in Saskatchewan;
  2. a Band as defined in the Indian Act (Canada) located in Saskatchewan;
  3. a partnership in which at least 51% of beneficial interest belongs to Indigenous persons;
  4. a cooperative in which Indigenous persons have at least 51% of the beneficial interest of the cooperative;
  5. a limited, non-profit, or professional corporation with at least 50% of its shares beneficially owned by Indigenous persons;
  6. or a joint venture of entities described in (a) through (e); or
  7. a joint venture between a non-Indigenous business and at least one of the entities described in (a) through (e), as long as Indigenous persons have at least 51% of the beneficial interest in the joint venture.

Why is the Policy Being Implemented?

Call to Action #92 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report [PDF] calls upon the corporate sector to apply the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by committing to “meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects,” and ensuring “that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.”

Currently, only 0.15 percent of the total value of Regina’s procurement spending is procured through Indigenous Vendors, even though 9.7 percent of Regina’s population is Indigenous and is growing at a faster rate than its non-Indigenous population. Through this Policy, Regina aims to promote economic development opportunities for Saskatchewan’s Indigenous communities and to ensure that Indigenous persons benefit from the City's growth.

When Will We See Reports?

The Indigenous Procurement Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the City’s Procurement Branch, will report annually to City Council on the achievement of targets and outcomes. The annual report will be accessible through the “City Council” section of the website. The Policy must be reviewed by February 8, 2024, and the first annual report is expected sometime around that deadline. As of the date of this bulletin, Regina has not released a specific timeline by which it expects to meet its 20 percent target.

How Does the Policy Compare to the Indigenous Procurement Policies of Other Governments?

Other governments in Canada have implemented—or are considering the implementation of—policies to increase the Indigenous share of procurement contracts:

  • The federal government announced on August 6, 2021, that all federal departments and agencies are mandated to ensure that businesses owned and operated by Indigenous persons are awarded at least 5 percent of the total value of procurement contracts by 2024. For context, Public Services and Procurement Canada reported in 2020 that 3 percent of the procurement spending through PSPC was awarded to Indigenous businesses.
  • While Toronto does not have a specific Indigenous procurement policy, the city’s Reconciliation Action Plan [PDF] tasks the city’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Office with “working to increase procurement from Indigenous businesses to advance inclusive economic development.”
  • Vancouver’s City Council voted on October 25, 2022, to begin working on an Indigenous procurement policy [PDF] complete with “demonstrated outcomes.”
  • Edmonton has established an Indigenous Procurement Advisory Committee to assist the city in developing an “Indigenous procurement framework [PDF].”
  • Saskatoon recently approved an “Indigenous Procurement Protocol [PDF],” which will see 5 percent of the total value of procurement contracts going to Indigenous businesses, a target Saskatoon’s administration projects it will reach by 2025.

For more information on the federal government’s initiatives, consult our bulletin on the 5 percent federal target and our earlier bulletin on the Nunavut Settlement Agreement.

For more information on Indigenous equity participation in Canada, see our bulletin “Four Trends in Indigenous Equity Participation in Canada.”    

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