Whitehorse Daily Star

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EXCEPTIONS PROVIDE LATITUDE – The Yukon government wants to get money into local hands, says Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn. He’s seen addressing the Annual Industry Conference on Wednesday.

CFTA exception will bear fruit for Yukon contractors

In the coming weeks,

By Taylor Blewett on February 22, 2018

In the coming weeks, Yukon contractors will benefit from a negotiated exception in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) that permits the Yukon government to reserve 10 projects up to $1 million apiece for completion by locals every year.

While other jurisdictions in Canada also secured their own version of the exception, the Yukon is the first to take advantage of it, Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn said Wednesday.

He made the announcement in his closing comments at the fourth Annual Industry Conference.

“We want to keep as much money in the Yukon economy as we can, instead of flushing it all beyond our borders to other jurisdictions. We want to get the money into local hands,” Mostyn told the crowd of government employees, contractors and other Yukoners who attended the conference.

“Those exceptions give us latitude to use our procurements to increase local employment and develop our rural economy.”

The Yukon government negotiated the exception before the new Canadian internal trade deal came into force last July.

It provides for the annual exemption of 10 contracts up to $1 million apiece from a Canada-wide competitive bidding process, if the contracted projects foster regional economic development.

“In general, the Canada Free Trade Agreements says that you can’t extend favouritism to a local business, so that means that anybody that’s bidding from Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick is on a level playing field with Yukon businesses,” Peter Turner, the president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, explained in an interview with the Star this morning.

“It’s protectionism,” Mostyn said of the exception in an interview with local media after Wednesday’s announcement. “And it’s allowed through our Canada Free Trade Agreement.”

Before the end of this fiscal year – March 31 – 10 contracts will be put out for competitive bidding by locals, utilizing the exception.

A few have already been let, Mostyn said, though he declined to specify what those contracts are for.

The information will be made available in the coming weeks, along with the total value of all 10 contracts.

Mostyn did say the handful of projects out for bidding right now all fall short of the $1-million cap.

“They’re cleaning contracts, roofing contracts, that type of thing. But it’s a start.”

And of the 10 contracts set to be awarded, Mostyn said he believes some will be for projects in Yukon communities, and will involve a range of industries.

Turner called the exception a “tremendous opportunity.”

He told the Star he was very pleased to hear all 10 contracts eligible for exception this year will be made available to local businesses.

“There are certain skill sets and expertise and knowledge bases that a local company brings to a project, potentially,” he explained.

“Plus, if there’s ever a problem with the project, you can go back to them because they’re a local business.

“There’s a long history of companies coming in, doing a big project here, and then scarpering off.”

While multimillion-dollar capital projects exceed the exception’s $1 million limit, sub-contracts on these projects could go to local companies, thanks to the the CFTA clause, Turner noted.

In his comments, Mostyn promised dialogue with Yukon contractors to evaluate how this first round of projects goes, and how the exception process could be refined into the future.

Going forward, Turner said he will be watching to ensure that each contract awarded under the exception comes as close to the $1-million ceiling as possible.

“So we don’t essentially use up a slot for something that is sub-par and doesn’t maximize the benefit to Yukon companies.”

Comments (3)

Up 5 Down 0

Nile Nukon on Feb 26, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Take a look at the YG website and how many contracts start at $1,000,001 making this nothing more than another empty promise from the liberals.

Up 6 Down 0

Invitational? on Feb 25, 2018 at 6:36 pm

He said some tenders had been let as invitational, seems to me that this is just a way to get contracts out without actually tendering them. But that doesn’t make any sense because usually invitational tenders are much lower value so don’t need to be tendered outside Yukon, they just pick who they want to invite. So why would the minister include them under the CFTA clause he is bragging about? To take full advantage of the clause they should be tendering contracts worth close to $1M locally. Something smells fishy here.

Up 3 Down 1

This is simply political grand standing and BS. on Feb 23, 2018 at 1:37 pm

It means nothing in the over all picture of contracting in the Yukon.
Yukon Government capital budget ever year was over $300 million a year.
Come on Minister you are trying to sell hog wash.
I worked in construction for many years.
Do you really think contractor will buy this BS?
Not a chance.
Alaska contractors can come into the Yukon and under bid our local contractor because of a 20% dollar.
That is what Trump in the US want in the free trade agreement.
Open Canada up so they can take over our economy.
Wilf Carter

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