A new strategy will guide efforts by Defence Construction Canada (DCC) and the Department of National Defence (DND) to award a 5% value of all contracts to Indigenous businesses.

The Joint Indigenous Procurement Strategy, which was signed in February 2022, was nearly two years in the making, as DCC–DND working groups determined the best way to meet this goal. From the start, it was clear a one-size-fits-all solution would not suit.

“Different contracts need different approaches, depending on the size and complexity of the project,” explains Joel Fisher, DCC Regional Service Line Leader, Contract Services.

Market research had given Fisher and Mark Smith, Technical Specialist, Procurement, a picture of the types, sizes, areas of interest and locations of Indigenous firms. The pair then consulted DND to study procurement approaches that would maximize Indigenous business participation.

“We know, for example, which Indigenous firms can repair an HVAC system or pave a parking lot, so we can set aside contracts like this for them to bid on,” Fisher says.

However, there isn’t enough capacity yet for these businesses to take on multi-million-dollar contracts to ensure sufficient competition. “Until there is,” Fisher adds, “the strategy requires general contractors to subcontract at least 5% of the work to qualified Indigenous companies.”

Meanwhile, DCC is continuing to engage new Indigenous suppliers. “I take the time to have lengthy conversations with them about our overall strategy, how to find our opportunities on MERX and how to get security clearances,” says Smith.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” concludes Fisher. “It’s a demonstration of DCC’s expertise in the industry and our longstanding partnership with DND. It will serve us well as we look to how we can increase capacity in other areas, such as professional services.”

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