Whitehorse Daily Star

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CONCERNS NOT SINGULAR – Leslie Anderson, the chair of the Yukon Procurement Advisory Panel, says the issues raised by Yukon vendors are not unique. She is seen during a media briefing on the panel’s report Tuesday afternoon. Top Left: PETER TURNER Bottom Left: RICK KARP

Government urged to do more local purchasing

Yukon businesses, small and large, have a singular message for the government: buy local.

By Sidney Cohen on May 4, 2016

Yukon businesses, small and large, have a singular message for the government: buy local.

Companies here want more opportunities to do business in the territory, and for the government to make it simpler to bid on projects, according to findings by a government report on procurement released Tuesday.

The Yukon Procurement Advisory Panel Report is the result of consultations with 82 business owners, government employees, municipal and First Nation representatives about “procurement,” that is, the purchasing of goods and services by the Yukon government.

The panel asked participants about their concerns with the process and the changes they would like to see.

The hope is the document will inform a discussion about how the government can refine the procurement process and increase opportunities for local companies.

The NDP raised the issue of hiring local businesses to do government work in the house on Tuesday.

“Time and time again, we hear from Yukon businesses — small and large — that on many occasions, contracts are awarded to Outside firms,” said NDP MLA Lois Moorcroft.

“When will the minister of Highways and Public Works actually change the procurement process to benefit local business?”

That minister, Scott Kent, said that in 2014-15, 19 of the 20 largest contracts awarded by the government went to local companies, and brought the Procurement Advisory Panel Report to the attention of the house.

“We will be actioning opportunities that have been identified for us from the panel experts and we’re going to continue to try to enhance local opportunities in the contracting sector,” said Kent during question period on Tuesday.

Panel chair Leslie Anderson said the issues raised by Yukon vendors were not unique, during a media briefing on the report Tuesday afternoon.

“The desire from vendors all across Canada ... are similar: they’re looking for streamlined processes, for highly competent and productive staff within the organizations they’re dealing with, for good information for themselves to make decisions.”

Top among their concerns was whether the government is doing all it can to buy locally.

In April, Premier Darrell Pasloski said he instructed all government employees to buy local when possible, but to also seek a bang for their bucks.

Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, said that buying local is about supporting the Whitehorse and Yukon communities at large.

“When you look at businesses that are established here in Whitehorse, they’re hiring local, they’re purchasing goods and services locally,” he said.

“We’re not saying not to look around and get the best deal, but it’s looking to local companies, because they hire local people, and if money stays here it gets circulated and helps local people.”

Karp commended the government for drafting the report, which includes 11 recommendations based on interviews with members of private and public sectors.

“Now we really have to implement some of the recommendations,” he said.

The report also determined that most people involved, on the business side and in government, found the procurement process unclear and difficult to navigate.

Participants called for more transparency and consistency in the procurement process.

Government employees asked for specialized training and a written guide so they can negotiate more effectively with companies.

What he’s heard from members of the business community, said Peter Turner, the president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, is that there’s a lack of consistency from one procurement staff member to another.

“The last time we checked, there’s only one person in the Yukon who’s a certified procurement specialist.”

Karp echoed this sentiment.

“It’s absolutely important that we have qualified people in supply chain management,” he said.

“The Supply Chain Management Association of Canada has more than 8,000 members across Canada ... there’s one in the Yukon.”

Another consistent complaint was that doing business with the government was an overly complex undertaking.

Business people said the amount of information they are asked to provide is excessive and some of it is unnecessary.

In his pre-budget speech to the Yukon Chamber of Commerce in April, the premier said that his government would tighten up the definition of what is a Yukon company.

“To be listed as a Yukon company, you will actually have to be a Yukon company,” he said. “Seems simple, I know, but over time our standards have become too lax on what it means to be local.”

The report did not make any recommendations to that effect, nor did it provide a definition for a Yukon company.

According to the government’s supplier directory webpage a Yukon business is one that:

• Employs Yukoners;

• Owns property in the Yukon that is directly related to the operation of the company;

• Has an office in the territory that is staffed year-round;

• At least 50 per cent of the business is owned by Yukon residents.

The advisory panel, which formed in 2015, was made up of six members from government and the private sector and included experts on procurement.

Comments (12)

Up 2 Down 0

Naiveté can be so charming on a young person.......... on May 10, 2016 at 2:23 pm


However an adult being naive comes across as uninformed. You might want to do a bit of research, since you obviously don't have a full understanding of WB's development history.

Up 2 Down 3

Tory on May 9, 2016 at 5:07 pm

What the heck does whistle bend have to do with this? That's got to be one of the most uneducated comments I have seen in a long time. Also completely unrelated to the story.
Whistle bend construction was Yukon companies and that sand has been there for thousands of years. Not trucked in for millions of dollars.

Up 7 Down 2

westofbelfast on May 9, 2016 at 12:13 pm

I also agree with Josey with respect to bringing back the preference for Yukoners in the hiring process. As you might recall, YG did that for a long time but under Fentie and after a meeting of the country's premiers, it was decided to remove all such preferences to promote "labour mobility". That means screening for 80 applicants where in the past it meant looking at Yukoners first, and then if there were no suitable candidates then the HR folks would go on to the larger and much more formidable list. At present, we bring in goods and people from outside the Yukon and leave Yukoners standing on the curb.

Up 6 Down 1

Josey Whales on May 8, 2016 at 12:04 pm

I agree with the other Josey. We need more on the job training for local people and under filling of many positions and a local hire policy for governments.

Our young people deserve a future here in Yukon.

Up 16 Down 20

Outsiders bring the best incompetence government money can buy..... on May 5, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Wasteland Bend is a classic example of the govt giving a contract to a low-bid Outside company with no Yukon experience. Irreparable mistakes were made and discovered 'too late' because the govt failed to do their due-diligence and didn't provide proper projected review and oversight. To prevent their incompetence from being exposed, the govt solution was to clear cut the forest and bring in millions of dollars of sandy fill to cover up the mistakes. What's worse is the govt continues to award contracts to this incompetent company.
These situations will continue because there is no investigative journalism in the Yukon and the newspapers focus on feel-good social news.

Up 9 Down 9

Josey Wales on May 5, 2016 at 9:12 am

a few local hires, at least a remote consideration would be nice too.

Up 30 Down 9

moose101 on May 5, 2016 at 6:04 am

We are all Canadian - any registered business can bid on any contract across Canada. If you cannot outbid a firm from out of the territory that has to move all of its infrastructure here you are definitely not putting in a competitive bid .

Up 16 Down 18

Gene Brown on May 5, 2016 at 5:36 am

Well.......I know first hand what the Government is doing to try and buy locally, nothing at all. I know first hand, I just had a contract that I have had for five years jerked out from under me and given to a Multi Billion Dollar company that is located on the other side of Canada on the East Coast and I must say it was against most concerned wishes. They are not showing me that they care about local businesses, far from it and I would think they might have a little more compassion when it comes to supporting their own local businesses and keep the money here to help the economy in the Yukon.

Up 14 Down 6

Paul on May 5, 2016 at 1:04 am

The YTG procurement document definitely favors Yukoners; it is available online. DM approval is needed to spend more than $1000 outside of the Yukon.

Up 6 Down 16

From up here on May 4, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Yeah the only YG employee who is certified moved from YT to Alberta in 2014. She was also responsible for the YG employee training program. Such a loss for YG.

Up 27 Down 12

Steven on May 4, 2016 at 6:13 pm

In my experience, as soon as most local businesses see/hear that someone is from YG, their eyes light up with dollar signs, and they issue a radically inflated quote. And then those same business owners bitch and complain to their MLA that YG spends too much money. (Actually, *every* business *everywhere* has inflated their prices when they find out it's the Gov come shopping...)

For example, a friend of mine said she went to Local Business X to get Product Y, and was quoted $750.00. My friend then found that exact same product online for $45.00, went to Local Business Z, had them order it through Amazon, mark it up to cover the cost of shipping and taxes, and got it for something like $50.00 total.

So... if local businesses want YG's (and the public's) business they'd better smarten up about their prices, because they aren't even "remotely" competitive.

Furthermore, if someone has the option of ordering it through a local store and it costs them X and they have to wait for 2 weeks anyway... why wouldn't they order it online for less than X and have it in the same amount of time??

Every store in this town is basically an outfitter, doesn't carry any useful "I-need-it-right-now" stock, and we have to wait for a special order. So... we might as well save some money while we are waiting, right?

Up 31 Down 17

Thomas Brewer on May 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Wasn't it Paz's government that opened up the procurement to Outside companies in the first place? That's definitely what started this whole mess.

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