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.

Sustainable procurement action plan would require companies to show how they'd benefit community

People stand in a line in front of a mural.
From left: Marlis Funk with Canadian CED Network, Robin Bryan with Compost Winnipeg, Sean Hogan with BUILD Inc., Tanya Palson with Manitoba Building Trades, Rachael Howgate with SEED Winnipeg, Angela Howie with Polished Cleaning Services and Lauren Kroeker-Lee with Resource Assistance for Youth. The group showed up to support the procurement plan. (Sam Samson/CBC)

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

The city's proposed 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 cares 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," said Sean Hogan with BUILD, or Building Urban Industries for Local Development — a social enterprise non-profit contractor and a training program for people who face barriers to employment.

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.


Sam Samson


Sam Samson is a senior reporter for CBC News, based in Regina. She's a multimedia journalist who has also worked for CBC in Winnipeg and Sudbury. You can get in touch on Twitter @CBCSamSamson or email