Government or Public Entity
- What are the benefits of the new procurement provisions?
- Do the NWPTA procurement rules replace those of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)?
- Who is covered by the NWPTA procurement provisions?
- What are the procurement thresholds in the NWPTA?
- What should be considered when calculating procurement value?
- What does procurement cover?
- What professional services are covered?
- What are the NWPTA -compliant procurement procedures?
- Is the pre-qualification process compliant under the NWPTA?
- Is group purchasing permissible under the NWPTA?
- How does the NWPTA affect preferential purchasing policies?
- Do tender notices have to be published in a certain place?
- What are the exceptions to the NWPTA?
- How does the NWPTA affect long-standing contracts?
- What happens if an objection is raised against an entity's procurement practice under the NWPTA?
- Whom can I contact if I have questions?
The procurement provisions under this Agreement increase opportunities for British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan companies by lowering thresholds for goods, services and construction purchasing. In addition, the Agreement covers a number of services currently excluded from the Agreement on Internal Trade and helps reduce costs to government by increasing competition.
No, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan remain Parties to the AIT and must ensure that the obligations under both Agreements are met.
The NWPTA builds upon the goals of the AIT and further breaks down trade barriers between the three signatory provinces, i.e. British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. For procurement, this objective is met by:
- Lowering procurement thresholds;
- Containing fewer procurement exceptions;
- Covering a wider range of professional services; and
- Establishing a dispute process that is effective and enforceable.
All British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan:
- government entities, including departments, ministries, agencies, boards, councils, committees and commissions,
- crown corporations, government owned commercial enterprises and other entities that are owned or controlled by a NWPTA provincial government, and
- municipalities, school divisions, publicly-funded academic, health and social service entities as well as any corporation or entity owned or controlled by one of the preceding.
The procurement rules of the NWPTA apply to all British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan government entities as outlined below under (a) through (c).
(a) The NWPTA applies to provincial government procurement. It requires open and non-discriminatory procurement where the anticipated costs are at or above the following thresholds:
- $10,000 or greater for goods
- $75,000 or greater for services
- $100,000 or greater for construction.
(b) The NWPTA applies to the procurement of provincial Crown corporations, government owned commercial enterprises and other entities that are owned or controlled by an NWPTA provincial government. It requires open and non-discriminatory procedures where the anticipated costs are at or above the following thresholds:
- $25,000 or greater for goods
- $100,000 or greater for services
- $100,000 or greater for construction.
(c) The NWPTA applies to procurement by municipalities, school boards, health regions and publicly-funded post-secondary institutions (the MASH sector) as well as corporations or entities owned or controlled by one of the preceding. It requires open and non-discriminatory procurement where the anticipated costs are at or above the following thresholds:
- $75,000 or greater for goods
- $75,000 or greater for services
- $200,000 or greater for construction.
The NWPTA defines procurement value as the estimated total financial cost resulting from a procurement, not taking into account optional renewals when the compulsory part of the contract is at least one year in duration. For example, if you were contracting for a service worth $50,000 per year and the contract was for three years, with the option to renew for two years, the procurement value of that contract would be $150,000. The value should include all premiums, fees and commissions and should cover only that term of the contract for which commitment is initially made.
Splitting a procurement into smaller pieces with the intent to circumvent the NWPTA is considered a discriminatory practice, as is the case under the AIT. For example, if you as a MASH sector entity know you need four trucks over the next year, each worth $50,000, you should not purchase them one at a time specifically for the purpose of avoiding an open and competitive process.
Procurement refers to the purchase, rental, lease, or conditional sale of goods, services or construction. It does not include government assistance such as grants, loans, equity infusion, guarantees or fiscal incentives, or government provision of goods and services to persons or other government organizations.
Under the NWPTA, the procurement of almost all professional services is covered. This includes the services of professions excluded under AIT, such as land surveyors, veterinarians, architects and engineers, as well as advertising and public relations services. Treasury services and the services of lawyers and notaries are not covered under either the NWPTA or AIT.
The procurement provisions of the NWPTA are based on the idea that competition is the norm. The NWPTA specifies that when a procurement is at or above the threshold, an open, transparent and competitive procurement process must be followed. This requires that solicitation documents clearly state the requirement of the procurement, identify measurable criteria that will be used in the evaluation of bids (including the weighting of each criteria), and provide relevant information to assist suppliers in completing and submitting their bids. Where an existing contract arrangement is in place for the provision of goods, services or construction, no extension, price change or subsequent purchase may take place unless the intention to do so was clearly stated within the original solicitation (bidding) document. When strategic partnership/alliance arrangements are contemplated and there is a procurement component at or above the thresholds then this arrangement is also subject to the NWPTA procurement rules.
Yes. As with an RFP process, the pre-qualification process must be open and transparent, starting with posting a defined set of criteria required for pre-qualification in a particular area of work. Notices for pre-qualification must be posted at least once a year. If this process is followed, RFPs must be sent to all contractors pre-qualified in that particular area of work.
Yes, so long as group purchasing activities are carried out in a manner that is consistent with the NWPTA (e.g. using an open and transparent process).
The NWPTA does not apply to situations where a government entity does not control the activities of a buying group. However, government entities will need to ensure that any purchases undertaken by that buying group in which the government entity participates are done without discriminating against suppliers.
The operating principle of the NWPTA is to ensure that Canadian suppliers are not discriminated against based on their geographic location. This means that entities must consider persons, goods and services from the other NWPTA provinces equal to their own.
The NWPTA does not permit preferential treatment of specific suppliers. For example, organizations buying goods or services cannot bias technical specifications that either favour or disadvantage specific suppliers from British Columbia, Alberta or Saskatchewan.
A supplier's location cannot be used to limit their ability to compete on a contract, or hinder the success of their bid if the defined service levels can be met.Where service is an important factor, entities should define their required service levels within the RFP and contracting process. For example, an entity could require that a person must be onsite during the construction process, that parts must be available to the entity within 24 hours at the contractor's expense, or that a service/repair agent must be available on location within 48 hours at the contractor's expense.
In British Columbia, notices are available through BCBid at www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca.
In Alberta, all of Alberta's public sector procurement notices for contracts over the NWPTA thresholds must be posted on the Alberta Purchasing Connection (APC), at www.purchasingconnection.ca. To obtain access to the APC, go to the website and complete the new user registration form accessible through the login page.
In Saskatchewan, notices are available through SaskTenders at www.sasktenders.ca.
While the NWPTA applies to most purchasing, there are certain exceptions, including but not limited to:
- Procurement of health and social services, and services provided by lawyers and notaries
- Purchases from philanthropic institutions, prison labour or persons with disabilities
- Purchases from a public body or non-profit organization
- Goods purchased for representational or promotional purposes
- Goods, services or construction required to respond to an unforeseeable situation of urgency
- Goods intended for resale to the public
For the detailed list, refer to Part V (Exceptions) of the NWPTA.
Entities may continue with long-standing contracts that it entered into before the effective date of the Agreement, even if that contract is inconsistent with the NWPTA, for the duration set out in the original contract. These can only be renewed after that date if the original request for proposal (RFP) and contract contains an option to renew.
British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are currently working on a bid protest mechanism that will soon be available to vendors to address concerns or objections about specific procurements.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Manager, Trade Development)