Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to talk to you about the City of Toronto's social procurement program. It's an exciting opportunity for us, whereby we're implementing institutional changes in Toronto.
Moving to the first slide of the presentation in front of you, on November 3, 2015, Toronto City Council unanimously approved “TO Prosperity”, a 20-year strategy to tackle poverty in Toronto. As part of this strategy, it laid out 17 recommendations and 71 actions across six areas of focus, from housing stability and accessible transit to food access and systemic change.
Six months later, Toronto City Council unanimously adopted the City of Toronto social procurement program as a tangible step to meeting systemic change recommendation number 13, which challenges the city to leverage our economic power “to stimulate job growth, support local businesses, and drive inclusive economic growth”.
Going to slide 2, the question then is, what is social procurement? For us, it's the practice of using our procurement power to create positive social and economic outcomes. The idea behind social procurement is that the dollars we spend get used twice: once for our operations and another for social impacts intended to achieve a double bottom line. Social procurement is about leveraging even a small portion of our procurement spend to create economic opportunities for people experiencing economic disadvantage, systemic discrimination, and barriers to equal access. On average, the city awards approximately $1.8 billion in new contracts each year.
Moving to slide 3, in Toronto the social procurement program has two equity goals, the first being to diversify the city's supply chain. This means creating an enabling climate that allows businesses owned by equity-seeking groups—racialized and aboriginal people, minorities, women, or people with disabilities—and social enterprises to be able to compete for city contracts on their own or as part of a partnership with larger businesses.
To go to slide 4, let me describe in a nutshell how this would work. For contracts under $100,000, our staff are required to get at least three quotes before they choose the lowest bid to give the contract to. With the new social procurement program, we want our staff to contact at least one certified diverse supplier of the three quotes they receive. We do this by using third-party supplier councils to certify diverse suppliers. These councils will provide the city with diverse supplier profiles that then populate our own internal supplier list. We then use that list to contact them to get quotes and allow them an opportunity to bid on business with the city.
For contracts above $100,000, where we have to go to the open market, in the cases of requests for proposals we will actually give points for companies that are either a certified diverse supplier and/or have their own supply chain policy in place. To be clear, this is not about giving preferential treatment to diverse suppliers. It's about removing inequitable barriers to access and supporting a truly competitive climate. Studies have shown that on getting to economic equity aboriginal- and minority-owned businesses are more likely to create jobs in their communities than large corporations.
In our first year of implementation, which was 2017, the city awarded 42 contracts under $100,000 to diverse suppliers, for a total spend of about $550,000.
Slide 5 shows the third-party supplier councils that the city is currently doing business with to get the diverse supplier list. I believe you've talked with some of them in a previous session, including WBE Canada.
Moving to slide 6, the second objective of the social procurement program is to develop our workforce. Here, we're using city contracts to create training, apprenticeships, and employment opportunities for economically marginalized residents. This is easily done in construction contracts, but it's also possible in other types of contracts. Social procurement is not about taking jobs away from existing vendors. We're asking them instead to use these workforce development initiatives as an additional source of qualified candidates for the jobs they were going to hire for in that particular contract.
On slide 7, an infograph highlights how workforce development works. I'm not going to go into all the details. The general premise is that the city, as part of the procurement process, is either going to ask the proponents to submit a proposal on their workforce development that they would want to do during their contract, or we're going to set out a couple of items that we would expect to be done in the contracts. We will then work with the successful vendors to ensure that they have the right access to workforce recruitment and candidates. We'll monitor progress with them and track the outcomes.
We did a two-year pilot project before we implemented the policy and we noted that not all contracts are suitable for workforce development. Right now, we actually look at contracts that are valued at at least $5 million and above and have a duration of at least two years. We also look at other criteria, including the suitability of the employment opportunities that might result from that contract; the reach, which we define as the ability to find suitable candidates; the feasibility that those employment opportunities can be achieved within the project time frame; and the volume that might be achieved.
We look for strategies from the proponents, including customized recruitment, training and work-based learning skills development, opportunities for registered apprenticeships during construction, and the use of social enterprises or other diverse suppliers in the supply chain. It links back to our first goal.
On slide 8 are just some of the examples of where we have implemented workforce development opportunities into different types of contracts. The first three represent engineering and design contracts for large infrastructure programs, and the bottom two are contracts for specific construction of infrastructure such as community centres and schools.
Turning to slide 9, one of the key components of our social procurement program is to have data analysis and reporting. Shown are some examples of items that we are tracking, such as supply chain diversity; the number and percentages of awarded purchases to diverse suppliers, and that's further broken down by equity-seeking communities; and, on the workforce development side, things like the number of new training and job opportunities. We know that we're still early in our implementation and that we're going to have to keep revisiting and revising the data we're collecting and the metrics that we want to track against.
Moving to slide 10, in terms of social procurement the City of Toronto is one of the leading municipalities. We get asked a number of questions repeatedly, including the following ones. Is this program legal? Does it take away jobs from existing employees? Does it add costs to the city contracts? Also, is it for supplier diversity or is it preferential treatment? We have consistently provided clear answers to these questions, which we've learned over our pilot phase, and we've been working with other anchor institutions around the GTA, as well as other municipalities, to make sure that we share our lessons with respect to these types of programs.
On slide 11, we show that lessons learned is a really critical part of what we've done so far for social procurement. The first lesson is that leadership at the top is necessary to create an enabling environment.
We were very fortunate back in 2015 when we were asked to look at this that the city was looking at the Pan Am Games. The Pan Am Games were implementing their own supply chain diversity program at the time, and our city council wanted us to find a way to ensure that concept continued after the Pan Am Games left. So we had political champions driving staff to look at this, as well as senior management staff in the city, including those in our social development and purchasing groups, to make sure that we would look at this very closely and get working on it across the team.
We also wanted to make sure that whatever we did complied and was consistent with public procurement principles and other legal obligations. We worked very closely with our procurement and legal staff to ensure that the program we created would comply with our own purchasing bylaw and meet the public procurement principles of accountability, transparency, and efficiency, and that it didn't contravene any existing legislation the city might be subject to, and that it was consistent with requirements from collective agreements and federal and international trade agreements.
Finally, we understood that this wasn't just about setting up a procurement policy and leaving it at that. We actually had to continue to work with the entire ecosystem that is involved in it. We are very closely engaged with our supplier diversity councils to help educate vendors and other suppliers to get certified. We work very closely with the workforce development pipelines and our construction associations to ensure that everyone looks at this as a successful program and that we find and deal with items as they come up—