Selling to the Public Sector
Canada is a signatory to three international agreements relating to government procurement: The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA or CUSMA as it’s known in Canada), and the 2010 United States-Canada Agreement on Government Procurement. The current agreements provide U.S. businesses with access to procurement conducted by most Canadian federal departments and many provincial entities. U.S. suppliers have access under these trade agreements to procurements by seven of Canada’s Crown Corporations, (government organizations that operate following a private sector model) but generally have both commercial and public policy objectives). Canada currently has more than 40 Crown Corporations.
The Government of Canada is one of the largest public buyers of goods and services, purchasing approximately $22 billion on behalf of federal departments and agencies. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), formerly known as Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), acts as the central purchasing agent for hundreds of departments and agencies and each can be viewed as separate potential clients. PSPC prefers to buy goods and services from SME’s because they offer a broader range of specialized products and services due to their locality and innovative nature. For instance, from 2017 to 2020, 74% of the 500k contracts awarded were to smaller businesses. The majority of these were valued at US$20,000 or under, in addition to two million credit card transactions of US$8,000 or less. These purchases cover a wide range of commodities from office supplies to aircraft, and everything in between.
The Canadian government has instituted an “Integrity Regime” for public procurement managed by PSPC. This policy can restrict opportunities for firms that have been convicted of or pled guilty to corruption anywhere in the world. The Canadian federal government’s fiscal year is from April 1 to March 31.
The Canadian federal government hosts CanadaBuys, the new, free, official source for tender and award notices. It is the authoritative source for federal government procurements subject to trade agreements or subject to departmental policies that are below trade agreement thresholds. CanadaBuys aims to improve the procurement process by making it simpler and more efficient for businesses of all sizes to use.
Features of the website include:
- Searching for opportunities using simple, plain language terms to match your good/service to tenders.
- Narrowing search results to opportunities by region, Goods and Services Identification Number (GSIN), department, and more.
- Locating procurement information for any tender, such as previous contracts or pre-qualified suppliers, who hold standing offers or supply arrangements.
Federal government buyers use the Supplier Registration Information (SRI) service to identify potential suppliers for purchases that are not subject to any of the trade agreements. All sellers must be registered on the SRI to sell to the Government of Canada.
U.S. companies bidding on foreign government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government advocacy. Within the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters in competition with foreign firms in foreign government projects or procurement opportunities. The Advocacy Center works closely with our network of the U.S. Commercial Service worldwide and inter-agency partners to ensure that exporters of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance of winning government contracts. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agency officials expressing support for the U.S. exporters directly to the foreign government. Consult the Advocacy Center’s program web page on trade.gov for additional information.
For a complete listing of where to find government procurement tenders for all provincial governments in Canada, please contact Commercial Specialist Mehdi Azeriah at Mehdi.Azeriah@trade.gov.
Financing of Projects
The United States Export-Import (EXIM) Bank provides trade and project finance support for U.S. exporters. EXIM has an interest in supporting U.S. small and mid-sized companies, especially those exporting in the following key industry sectors: oil and gas, mining, agribusiness, renewable energy, construction equipment and services, medical equipment and services, aircraft and avionics, and power generation and related services.
The Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal governments provide extensive financing support for major projects such as infrastructure, energy, and waste and water treatment sectors. In some cases, Canadian entities provide all of the financing for the project (usually through bond offerings) and open the project for competitive bid. In many cases (most often in the energy sector), Canadian entities offer natural resources assets for bid and seek project developers who can secure their own financing. In a growing number of cases, Canadian entities develop infrastructure or energy projects through public-private partnerships in which the Canadian side offers rights, loan guarantees, and/or partial financing to leverage needed additional project financing from private sector partners.
Multilateral Development Banks and Financing Government Sales: The United States Commercial Service maintains Commercial Liaison Offices in each of the main Multilateral Development Banks worldwide such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and others. Canada does not qualify for project financing from any such bank, nor from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (formerly known as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation).