Yukon advantage dropped from government contracting rules

The government has removed preference for Yukon businesses from their rules for purchasing goods and services. The NDP Opposition is concerned that the change will hurt the local economy.

The government has removed preference for Yukon businesses from their rules for purchasing goods and services.

The NDP Opposition is concerned that the change will hurt the local economy.

“On the one hand, we have Premier Pasloski speaking to the Wall Street Journal and saying that he wants to encourage the local economy and not have fly-in, fly-out jobs, and then on the other hand it appears that they’re whittling away the Yukon advantage for local businesses,” said MLA Lois Moorcroft.

In particular, the Opposition points to the removal of one section of the regulations.

“The objectives of government contracting are to ensure that government contracting activities are carried out in a fair, fiscally responsible, accountable, open and competitive manner, and that they benefit Yukon residents and Yukon businesses where practicable,” according to the previous regulations.

A new, later section was added and says that contracting will be subject to “fully competitive processes.”

The changes come into effect on April 1.

The Yukon government has spent over $1 billion on contracts over the past four years.

The government says that the changes will modernize contracting processes and bring Yukon in line with their national and international agreements.

“We recognize that Yukon is a part of the global economy and we have to play by the same rules as everyone else,” said Doris Wurfbaum, spokesperson for Public Works.

Yukon is a signatory to Canada’s Agreement on Internal Trade, a free trade agreement between provinces and territories. Yukon must also comply with Canada’s various international free trade agreements.

But the change won’t necessarily hurt local business, said Wurfbaum.

As part of these changes, the government plans to set up a procurement governance office so it can help businesses to provide the kinds of goods and services that the government wants.

The office will offer advice and enhance relationships “so we can match their needs with our needs,” said Wurfbaum.

The government may still have the authority to give preference to local businesses in contracting under certain circumstances, said Wurfbaum.

The NDP has also raised concern over the removal of the bid challenge committee from the regulations. The committee deals with contract disputes in the territory.

The new regulations refer generally to a dispute resolution mechanism.

The bid challenge committee has not been eliminated, said Wurfbaum. It continues to exist and operate as before.

The generalization of the language in the regulations will allow the government to be more responsive and have more options for dispute resolution available to them, said Wurfbaum.

The modernization of contracting policies has been an ongoing project of several years, she said.

The business community was consulted in 2009, and ongoing consultation has been done with a joint panel of government and industry representatives, said Wurfbaum.

In addition, Public Works completed a review of policies across Canadian jurisdictions and Alaska to determine best practices.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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