Thunder Bay·Audio

Singh calls for more Canadian content in government procurement process

The leader of Canada's NDP says his party would change the country's procurement rules to ensure there's more Canadian content in manufactured goods purchased by the government.

NDP leader says change could help create jobs, prevent layoffs

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, seen here during an announcement in Coquitlam, B.C., in April, said his party would increase Canadian content requirements in government procurement if elected in October. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The leader of Canada's NDP says his party would change the country's procurement rules to ensure there's more Canadian content in manufactured goods purchased by the government.

Jagmeet Singh made the policy announcement in Thunder Bay on Monday.

"We would change procurement rules to require made in Canada content," Singh said. "We know that there are various jurisdictions around the world, various countries around the world, that are already doing this."

Singh added, "Changing those rules for procurement [will] ensure that we've got Canadian content, will ensure that we've got jobs in Canada."

Singh said the specific percentage of Canadian content the NDP would require — if they form a government after the Oct. 21 federal election — hasn't yet been determined. He said the NDP would base that on what other, comparable jurisdictions are doing.

"But, to put it bluntly, as much as possible," he said. "We want to have a significant content that's Canadian."

Singh made the announcement outside of the Unifor Local 1075 office; the union represents workers at Thunder Bay's Bombardier plant.

The company recently announced it will lay off 550 workers at that plant in November, citing a work shortage there.

"We just spoke with the workers," Singh said. "When one person's laid off, it also means their whole family is impacted."

"It breaks my heart," he said. "At the time when [Bombardier] workers are faced with these struggles, we've got politicians at the federal level just pointing fingers."

'Huge inaction'

Singh said a buy-Canadian requirement in government procurement would help prevent layoffs like those coming to Bombardier this fall.

"On the federal level, specifically, there's been huge inaction," he said. "One specific example that is offensive to me is that a Crown corporation, a publicly-owned corporation, Via Rail, just signed a contract for a billion dollars to buy trains that are from Germany, a German company."

"Instead of having a Canadian company provide those trains, they send that contract offshore," Singh said. "That is just wrong."

An NDP government would change the country's procurement rules to ensure more Canadian content is used ... in Canada's manufacturing sector. Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh made the announcement earlier today in Thunder Bay. Singh met this morning with Unifor Local 1075, which represents workers at Thunder Bay's Bombardier plant. You may recall Bombardier announced earlier this year that it would lay off 550 workers at the city's plant in November ... citing a shortage of work. That's nearly half of the plant's workforce. Singh says the NDP's proposal would help prevent mass layoffs like those coming in Thunder Bay. Here's some of what Singh said about the plan as he spoke with reporters earlier today. 3:49