September 17, 2014 8:45 am
Updated: September 17, 2014 10:31 am

NDP leader calls for change in Saskatchewan procurement policies

Saskatchewan NDP leader Cam Broten wants the province to change its procurement policies, saying they undercut local business and hurt the local economy.

Vytai Brannan / Global News

SASKATOON – The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on Premier Brad Wall to change the government’s procurement policies.

Opposition Leader Cam Broten characterized the current policy as “lazy” and “short-sighted,” mentioning multiple times that the government only looks at the lowest initial bid when choosing who to award a contract to.

“I am calling on government to have a broader approach that actually will look at a total cost of a project,” said Broten, who made the statement at Saskatoon steel fabricator WeldFab.

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“The devil can be in the details; it’s important to know the reputations of companies, it’s important to know the track record of companies,” he added.

Broten pointed specifically to steel and construction as two industries he says has suffered from the “government’s undermining policies.” In a release, the Sask. NDP leader states that steel industry leaders have been pressuring the government for over a year to change its procurement policies and that local businesses are in “lay-off mode.”

“When we’re shipping projects to other provinces like Quebec and Ontario, or down to the [U.S.], like Texas or California, that’s not helping our local economy,” said Broten.

Peter Davies, the president of WeldFeb, joined Broten in his call for change. Davies said the company has experienced lay-offs as of late and runs on an eight hour work day, instead of 16 hours.

“It’s always low bid, low price,” said Davies, who added that his facility is currently running at 45 per cent capacity.

“It doesn’t always end up being the best deal at the end of the project.”

In June, the provincial government announced the creation of Priority Saskatchewan, which is tasked with making sure local businesses are treated fairly when competing for government and crown contracts.

“We are aware of a number of people within industry that are asking government to look at the many different ways that it procures goods and services,” said Lionel LaBelle, who is leading Priority Saskatchewan.

“That’s the role of Priority Saskatchewan: to focus very hard on government and its purchasing power to make sure that we’re fair, make sure that we’re transparent.”

LaBelle said that he has a full schedule of meetings with associations and companies within the construction and steel industry, as well as other sectors, like the software industry.

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