Regina introduces “historic” Indigenous Procurement Policy

Regina has implemented an Indigenous Procurement Policy (the Policy) that will aim to grant at least 20% of the total value of city contracts to Indigenous-led businesses.

Under the Policy, at least $41 million of the City of Regina’s procurement budget will go to Indigenous businesses, according to a release. The city currently spends about $200 million a year on procurement. About $300,000 of the city’s procurement budget, or 0.15%, is spent on purchases from Indigenous businesses.

“This commitment to a minimum 20% total spend is historic and will benefit not only our Indigenous business community but our community at large through the reinvestment that most Indigenous businesses make in supporting our local economies,” Thomas Benjoe, President and CEO of FHQ Developments, said in a statement.

Regina recently appointed an Indigenous procurement partner, who will be responsible for the rollout of the new policy. The Policy was developed in consultation with the Indigenous Procurement Advisory Committee (the IPAC) and took effect on February 8, 2023.

How the Policy works

The Policy aims to transition at least 20% of the total value of the city’s procurement contracts to Indigenous vendors. Currently, there is no timeline for when this milestone will be reached.

The Policy document defines an Indigenous person as, “an individual who resides in Saskatchewan who is a status Indian under the Indian Act (Canada), a Métis Person or an Inuit”. Indigenous vendors may include:

  • sole proprietorships owned by an Indigenous person;
  • a Band (as defined under the Indian Act) located in Saskatchewan;
  • a partnership in which at least 51% of the beneficial interest belongs to Indigenous persons;
  • a cooperative in which at least 51% of the beneficial interest belongs to Indigenous persons;
  • a limited, non-profit or professional corporation in which at least 50% of the shares are beneficially owned by Indigenous persons; or
  • a joint venture in which at least 51% of the beneficial interest belongs to Indigenous persons.

The IPAC will examine the early results of the Policy and recommend adjustments as necessary, and will have the ongoing responsibility of developing and reviewing the Policy annually.

The Policy notes that Indigenous businesses are exempt from certain trade agreements, such as the Canada Free Trade Agreement (Part IV, Article 800) and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (Part V, A. General Exceptions).

Regina joins other cities aiming to increase Indigenous procurement

Regina has become the latest Canadian city to implement a procurement policy that will benefit Indigenous-led businesses. Saskatoon has an Indigenous Procurement Protocol, while cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Brampton, all have policies aimed at increasing procurement from diverse communities, including Indigenous businesses.

“Economic fairness is imperative for our collective future,” Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said. “It requires us to understand where barriers exist and to collaborate with, and learn from, Indigenous partners to find solutions.”

The lawyers at MLT Aikins LLP have wide-ranging experience advising municipalities in Saskatchewan on their procurement strategies, as well as Indigenous-led businesses on economic development initiatives. We regularly negotiate commercial contracts for municipal and Indigenous clients. Contact a member of our Municipal or Indigenous team to learn more.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.