New procurement policy will prioritize Yukon First Nations' businesses

Yukon has announced a new policy that will give a competitive advantage to First Nations' businesses bidding on government contracts.

Government aims for 15% of procurements to come from First Nations' businesses

A building facade with the words Yukon government in the forefront of a grey sky.
The policy was unveiled Friday, after being endorsed by First Nations leaders at the Yukon Forum. (Steve Silva/CBC)

The Yukon government is trying to give a competitive edge to First Nations' businesses bidding on government contracts.

The Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy, unveiled on Friday, aims to bolster economic opportunities for First Nations people.

It aims for at least 15 per cent of all territorial government procurement contracts to go to Yukon First Nations' businesses.

Premier Sandy Silver said this will "level the playing field" and advance reconciliation.

Yukon First Nations' businesses will have a greater advantage based on how much of the business is owned by or employs First Nations people. A business will also have an edge if it's located on First Nations territory outside Whitehorse.

Richard Mostyn, minister of highways and public works, said the policy will also advantage local companies that hire First Nations people or subcontract to First Nations' businesses.

"Through such measures of community development agreements, invitational tenders and progressive targets, the policy is going to increase the capacity of Yukon First Nations' businesses," Mostyn said.

Minister Richard Mostyn discussed the new policy on Friday following the Yukon Forum. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

"It's going to increase skill development. It's going to increase the overall presence of Yukon First Nations in the territory's labour market. And it's our hope it will lead to the creation of more Yukon First Nation businesses," Mostyn said.

The changes were unveiled Friday, after being endorsed by First Nations leaders at the Yukon Forum.

The policy was promised more than a year ago, when Yukon released its new version of its overall procurement policy. At the time, Mostyn said they had hoped to have the First Nations policy done by April 2019. On Friday, Mostyn they needed time to "get it right."

The policy also includes community development agreements for projects within First Nations territory.

Mostyn said the policy also supports project "unbundling," which means breaking down a large contract into smaller projects so more companies can be involved.

The government will also have "set-aside" procurements open only to First Nations' businesses.

Among the policy measures, the government promises to create a registry of Yukon First Nations' businesses, and offer regular information sessions.

Mostyn said they are aiming to implement the policy on Feb. 22, with some provisions coming into effect on April 26.