On March 14, the Minister for Government Administration and Chair of the Conseil du trésor spoke before the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal for the first time.
Minister Sonia LeBel took the opportunity of her first major public appearance since the start of the pandemic to share her vision of government procurement and explain her government’s strategy to support local businesses.
Government procurement: a powerful lever for the Quebec economy
Echoing calls from the Chamber in its study conducted jointly with Propulsion Québec, Minister LeBel shed light on the importance of government procurement in supporting Quebec businesses.
From the government’s point of view, three major sectors dominate public procurement: construction, services, and goods. Their expansion would spur a major increase in growth, according to Sonia LeBel.
“Government procurement is a powerful lever for economic development. By increasing our market share of 10% in dominant sectors such as construction and services, we can anticipate Quebec GDP growth of $420 million.” – Sonia LeBel
For the Minister, such a strategy is even more important as the economy faces major challenges.
“Supply chains are fragile, and we need to shore up strategic sectors, such as health and food. Likewise, in 2022, action on the environment is non-negotiable. Government procurement must be part of this.”
Central to the government’s effort, Minister LeBel highlighted the importance of considering the needs of the population overall.
“The winners in the use of government procurement must be Quebecers. The strategy must deliver gains for society as a whole.”
Innovation central to the national public procurement strategy
Minister LeBel pointed repeatedly to the importance of making innovation the focus of the Government of Quebec’s approach on government procurement.
“There needs to be innovation in goods and product, as well as in our contractual and other processes.”
According to the Minister, this new way of thinking about government procurement must permeate the entire public procurement process.
“We want evolutionary paths, with new procurement methods. Our strategy provides the space to deploy these innovations. Artificial intelligence is a good example of what’s possible from a strategic point of view.”
Better distribute government procurement by promoting access for Quebec businesses
Access to government procurement is not necessarily a natural reflex for businesses, particularly smaller ones. One of the major objectives of the new strategy presented by the Minister is to make the request for proposals process more open.
“We often hear government procurement is hard to access. For the smallest businesses, it’s not something they do. We want to dismantle these old reflexes by offering better support.”
To guide this effort, the Minister said several times that integrity and transparency will be central to new public procurement processes.
“In determining which contracts can go to government procurement, we have to consider integrity and transparency. We have to show gains for the government and for all Quebecers.”