What prevents government from buying local? The Atlantic Procurement Agreement has been pointed to – and so I asked for witnesses to present on it to the Public Accounts standing committee. At the October 5, 2016 presentation some of what we learned is:
- Detailed specifications for goods and services are encouraged, and if there is a product superior in health and/or quality this can and should be specified in the tender
- Health PEI does their own procurement, and so specific questions about why preferred brands are listed in the provincial protein tender, and whether this is in violation of the Atlantic Procurement Agreement, were not answered
- Any tender under $10,000 has no restrictions
- Monitoring of the agreement is done passively – by a committee that meets quarterly and only acts on complaints made to them – in at least the last 8 years there has never been a challenge that any tender has violated the agreement
In my opinion, we did not find anything that would block purchasing of local food products that meet specific criteria – e.g. for health or quality – and it is highly unlikely that any complaints would be made if local food purchases were prioritized.
The next step is to find out from Health PEI why local PEI brands are not listed as preferred on the provincial protein tender – instead of large national or multi-national brands sourced from outside PEI (or even Canada).
Listen to my questions (or the whole meeting) at the SoundCloud link below.
Here is the link my blog post from when the issue was raised in the legislature last fall.