The Yukon government has unveiled a new procurement policy aimed at boosting the representation of First Nations businesses in government contracts.
The policy was announced Dec. 11 following the Yukon Forum and aims to see 15 per cent of territorial government contracts go to Yukon First Nations’ businesses.
Under the new policy — which guides the government’s spending on everything from construction contracts to the purchase of goods — applicants can receive a competitive advantage based on their percentage of Yukon First Nation ownership and their willingness to hire First Nations workers.
For example, a business that is at least 50 per cent First Nation-owned will receive a five per cent reduction to the estimated bid price in order to give a competitive advantage. Additional discounts add up depending on the percentage of ownership.
An additional five per cent is available if the contract occurs in a traditional territory in which the Yukon First Nation business is located.
“This is a policy the likes of which have not been seen in the country before. It was done in close collaboration with our First Nation partners,” said Minister Richard Mostyn in the legislature Dec. 14.
“We’re going to continue that work going forward with our business community because we want this to be a success. First Nations want it to be a success. The business community wants it to be a success. It’s time that Yukon works together in our economic endeavours and not work against one another,” he said.
The new policy includes technical details on how First Nations ownership is defined and how discounts and points are to be awarded based on many factors. Based on the quota goal, the government can also create “set aside” contracts that limit competition.
The government’s existing procurement process allows consideration for factors such as environmental sustainability and northern experience, in addition to prioritizing locally-owned businesses or the employment of Yukon workers.
The policy was overhauled last year, but the changes concerning First Nations were delayed.
The new policy also includes support systems for First Nations communities, including regular briefings and presentations on how procurement policies work and what contracts are coming available.
A Yukon First Nations Business Registry will also be created, including details on which goods and services are offered by the businesses for procurement officials.
The new policy is expected to come into effect on Feb. 22, 2021. Detailed planning for some of the new features and support programs are expected later on April 26, 2021.
“The Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy will ensure that Yukon First Nations businesses benefit from improved access to opportunities and is a great example of meaningful collaboration between Yukon First Nations and Government of Yukon through the Yukon Forum Joint Action Plan,” said Grand Chief Peter Johnston of the Council of Yukon First Nations.
The Yukon Forum meetings are private between government ministers and Council of Yukon First Nations leadership.
The forum meets four times a year — the Dec. 11 meeting was the sixteenth since the meetings began in 2017.
Following the meetings officials said a range of other issues were discussed, including the new Yukon Strategy on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-spirit+ people, pandemic management, mineral development, the forestry industry and the recent Yukon Days meetings with the federal government.
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