Mrs. Gabrielle Bertrand (Brome-Missisquoi):
Madam Speaker, when the debate was interrupted, I was about to say that last week, in my riding, I had the pleasure to announce that a contract for $1,974,987 had been awarded by Revenue Canada Taxation to Imprimerie Montreal-Orford in Magog.
This is a reminder that more than 80 per cent of our suppliers are small businesses that can take advantage of these opportunities.
We have already heard detailed descriptions of the open bidding process which is the main component of the department's reform.
I would, however, like to stress two aspects that are a tremendous asset to the process, and I am referring to the Procurement Review Board and the Canadian content policy which some people seem to overlook.
The integrity and fairness of the procurement process must, in the final analysis, be able to stand up to a detailed review by an independent third party.
In the case of contracts covered by the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, suppliers who feel they have been treated unfairly can bring their case before the Canadian Procurement Review Board. The board has proved to be a quick and inexpensive way to deal with complaints.
If the supplier wins his case the board may award costs and recommend compensation, including payment of a certain amount, or order a repeat of the procurement process on a competitive basis. This is a precedent for Canada.
When we talk about government openness, I think Supply and Services Canada and the Procurement Review Board are a case in point. I would even go so far as to say that it is up to us as members to inform small businesses of these mechanisms.
February 4, 1993
Private Members' Business
Many industrial businesses and associations have said that such a redress mechanism should be made available to Canadian suppliers for more goods and services purchased by the federal government.
Consequently, the government intends to introduce a bill expanding the mandate of the Procurement Review Board. Once passed, this bill will allow the board to review the purchasing of goods, and later the purchasing of services, in order to determine whether access to information was fair and if the evaluation criteria were clearly defined.
I am convinced that hon. members of this House will vote in favour of such a bill.
I want to draw the attention of the hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt to our Canadian content policy. We favour a "Buy Canada" approach, as evidenced by our Canadian-content policy.
For a long time now government procurement in Canada and elsewhere has been considered an instrument for industrial and regional development.
Supply and Services Canada is convinced that these goals will be better served by an open and competitive purchasing process. Competition on the domestic market ensures that Canadian suppliers can make it on the world markets. Government procurement will not be used to favour or support non-competitive suppliers.
Canada has played and continues to play a leading role by applying stricter business practices relating to preferential purchasing on the domestic market.
However, subject to our obligations under GATT and the FTA, Supply and Services clearly favours buying in Canada. This is done by restricting the competition to qualified Canadian suppliers when there are enough of them to insure that there is competition.
In order to take advantage of this preference, suppliers must be able to guarantee that the goods they have to offer are entirely made in Canada or, if they are made up of both imported and Canadian components, that the final product complies with the rules of origin.
Generally it means that a significant proportion of the manufacturing or processing must take place here in Canada in order to make a new product out of these various components.
In the case of services, the value of the work done in Canada by staff located in Canada must generally account for at least 80 per cent of the bid value. For big public projects or large purchases, review committees still make a detailed evaluation of the possible regional and industrial benefits.
I hope that my colleagues opposite will be able to appreciate the impact of the measures I just talked about. Personally, I am convinced that such a policy benefits our small businesses.
I will say again that the government is doing everything it possibly can to help our small businesses.
What I wanted to stress is how coherent, dynamic and innovative our economic policies are. Supply and Services Canada illustrates our commitment to meeting the present and future needs of our small businesses.
Consequently, I cannot but oppose the motion before us today as it contradicts the thrust of our policy on contracting.
Soon, the government will introduce a North American free trade agreement in Parliament.
Here is another example of a policy which, together with all the other existing policies, will provide better opportunities for small Canadian businesses, allowing them to reap the benefits of international trade and to grow and create stable employment for Canadians.
Subtopic: SMALL BUSINESS SECTOR