Companies bidding on City of Winnipeg contracts would have to show community benefit under new plan

Companies that want contracts with the City of Winnipeg may have to show they care about the greater good.

The sustainable procurement action plan, if approved by council this month, would require companies that bid for contracts to show how they could benefit Winnipeg communities. That could include proposals like running apprenticeships for people who face employment barriers, or showing that the company uses recycled materials.

Anything that shows the company care about the community — not just its bottom line — would award the bidder more points during the contract selection process.

“The City of Winnipeg spends $400 million annually on goods, services and construction,” the plan states.

“While many suppliers are already providing positive benefits in their communities, such as running apprenticeship and vocational training programs for equity groups and First Nations, Inuit and Red River Métis peoples, this is not formally recognized in the current procurement practices of the city.”

The plan would start recognizing those efforts.

“That can translate into how good is it for the environment…. how good is it at addressing if there are crime issues or unemployment in certain postal codes in the city of Winnipeg, how good is the purchasing going to affect those things,” said Sean Horgan with BUILD.

He told the city’s executive policy committee Wednesday that he was “smiling ear to ear” because he was so excited. 

“This gives the city the power to be able to add those additional questions to our purchasing and maximize on our tax dollars spent.”

Part of the plan includes a new position at the city. This person would make sure the companies follow through on their promises.

“That’s the biggest thing we support in this plan is to add that extra person,” said Tanya Palson, the executive director of Manitoba Building Trades. She and others have been working on the plan for eight years.

“Without that, you run into who’s measuring it at the end of the day. Best intentions may not actually deliver the outcomes you’re looking for.”

The executive policy committee unanimously approved the plan today, but council as a whole has the final say next week.