Federal bureaucrats get new marching orders to help Inuit firms win contracts

“An important step towards the betterment of Inuit society”

This 2010 photo shows construction on a major expansion to the Polar Continental Shelf Project in Resolute Bay. The federal government has issued new rules to civil servants aimed at helping Inuit firms win federal contracts. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

The federal government last week took what appears to be a major step towards honouring a major obligation under the Nunavut land claims agreement: making it easier for Inuit firms to win federal government contracts.

To fix long-standing problems with how it implements Article 24, the section of the Nunavut agreement that deals with government contracting and procurement, the federal government has issued a new set of rules for bureaucrats working in the Nunavut settlement area.

Their new marching orders, which take effect on Dec. 20, 2019, are contained in a directive issued this past Aug. 15.

And that directive comes with the blessing of Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., an organization that for years was harshly critical of the federal government’s approach to Article 24.

“The adoption of this policy gives opportunities to Inuit entrepreneurs and is an important step towards the betterment of Inuit society. We have worked very hard to get to this point and were pleased to co-develop the directive,” Kotierk said in a news release.

In the 2015 out-of-court agreement that settled NTI’s 2006 lawsuit against the federal government, the federal government promised to come up with better ways of helping Inuit firms compete for federal contracts and to improve its compliance with Article 24.

Article 24 of the Nunavut Agreement states that governments must do things to make it easier for Inuit-owned companies to get government contracts and real estate leases within the Nunavut settlement area.

The Government of Nunavut uses its Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti, or “NNI,” policy to meet its Article 24 obligations.

But Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has long complained that Ottawa’s practices aren’t good enough.

“The development of a Nunavut-specific procurement policy directive is a historic implementation milestone,” Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, said in the release.

“Reaching agreement on this long outstanding treaty obligation is a testament to what the parties can achieve when they work together, collaboratively, to reach mutual implementation goals.”

The new directive sets out the specific obligations of government officials, provides ways for Inuit firms to increase their participation in government contracts in Nunavut, and describes how bids should be evaluated to take into account benefits to Inuit and to Nunavut.

“This directive will contribute to economic development in the Nunavut settlement area by providing Inuit increased access to government contracts and leases along with opportunities for employment, training and skills development,” Carla Qualtrough, the minister of public services and procurement and accessibility, said in the news release.

The policy allows federal contracting authorities to limit bids on federal government contracts to qualified Inuit firms only, under certain circumstances.

Under the policy, the federal government will use NTI’s Inuit firms list.

And for government contracts for work in national parks, in conservation areas and on archaeological sites, a designated Inuit organization will get the right of first refusal over any business opportunities that arise.

The new policy also applies to real estate leases.

A full description of the new policy is available here.

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by Curious Spectacle on

    I am almost certain that these well meaning luminaries of business practice will create more harm than good by meddling and distorting the system in this way. I predict more corruption and far less efficiency in the market (if you can even imagine it being worse than it currently is). I guess only time will tell.

  2. Posted by Double standards eh on

    Birth right corps complaining about non Inuit firms bidding on Federal and GN contracts. But they get to use China to build their hotel cause its cheaper.
    Wonder why its so expensive to build housing, only if the GN could contract China like QC did.

    • Posted by What a twisted world on

      About tune that the feds do this. But how about Inuit organizations walking the talk. Like: don’t buy pre-fab stuff from China!

    • Posted by What a twisted world on

      About time that the feds do this. But how about Inuit organizations walking the talk. Like: don’t buy pre-fab stuff from China!

    • Posted by You speak the truth brother on

      Fantastic point. Hypocrisy at its finest.

  3. Posted by BET THERE ISN’T 30% LOCAL/INUIT CONTENT at the hotel on

    Most GN contracts have local or inuit content criteria. However birthright organizations who preach the need to foster inuit business and hire local seem to have lost the enthusiasm when it comes to doing their own projects. Management firm is very southern, manufacturing took place off shore, way off shore, did they at least use the GN shipping, if so what effect did that have on real northern builders. The ultimate scenario of do as I say but don’t do as I do. Hypocrite is a much too polite term to use for the organization behind the project . Can’t wait for the next big speech espousing local hire and local business. Give your tuque a spin.

  4. Posted by Steve L on

    Back when Joe Clark was PM I was offered a job involving economic development in the north. But I would have to move to Ottawa. So you can guess all the lobbyists for northern contracts would be well heeled southern companies and I wouldn’t see one Inuk at my office door. Locals were regarded as coolie labour without a chance at any level of management.

  5. Posted by Ig Noir Rant on

    None of you have a clue how contracts are awarded. It is a buddy system mixed in credible merit. It is also why criteria and procedures for contracts were developed. These systems try to get rid of the buddy system.
    It is also why governments try new initiatives.

    • Posted by Steve L on

      My experience with NWT DPW was less than pleasant. In my situation bidders were supposed to be pre-qualified. The low unqualified bid was 10% below the existing and the government had budgeted a 10% increase because of cost of living. So the DPW department had an extra 20% in their pot and my staff lost out because when they were hired on by the new contractor, he started them at less.
      I’m in municipal politics and the ethics rules are intentionally tight to prevent this. I had one vendor get quite upset because he felt entitled to the work. I’m a tax payer too and if we overspend to do someone a favour it comes back to bite me when we do the mil rate. We may not be the norm. Small town butted heads with big city boy and they realized that we had a responsbility to ratepayers

      • Posted by Steve L on

        And before the computer got jumpy and wouldn’t let me finish the last job went to a Saulteaux First Nation member, who did a better and cheaper job.

  6. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Article 23, Article 24 are standards that all levels of government are required to meet. And yet the very same Inuit organizations that beat government over the head when they fail to meet their obligations allow their birthright organizations to completely ignore them. Hypocrisy at its most obvious.

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