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Aboriginal Procurement Initiative Frequently Asked Questions

Procurement Services Branch
2nd Floor, 270 Osborne Street North
Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada R3C 1V7
Telephone: 204-945-6361
Fax: 204-945-1455
E-mail: procserv@gov.mb.ca

Aboriginal Procurement Initiative Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is an Aboriginal Person?
Under Manitoba's Aboriginal Procurement Initiative (API), an Aboriginal person is:

  • a person of First Nation ancestry, including treaty, stauts or registered Indian, non-status or non-registered Indian, and a Métis person, or
  • a person of Inuit ancestry,
    who is a Canadian citizen and resides in Canada

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What is an Aboriginal Business?
An Aboriginal business is a business:

  • that is at least 51% Aboriginal-owned and controlled by one or more Aboriginal Persons; and
  • if it has six or more full-time employees, at least one-third of whose (full-time) employees are Aboriginal Persons

If an enterprise is part of a joint venture or consortium, defined as two or more Aboriginal Businesses or an Aboriginal Business and a non-Aboriginal Business(es), at least 51% of the joint venture or consortium must be owned and controlled by Aboriginal Persons to qualify as an Aboriginal Business.

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Why does Manitoba define Aboriginal Business the way it does?
Manitoba's definition is intended to harmonize with that of the Government of Canada, since Manitoba may enter into cost sharing agreements or become partners on contracts with Canada.

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How do I know whether a business is an Aboriginal Business or not?
Procurement Services Branch maintains an Aboriginal Business Directory which lists Aboriginal Businesses registered under the API. The Aboriginal Business Directory is a resource to assist Tender Administrators in identifying potential Aboriginal Businesses to government, by profiling the goods and services they provide along with the location of their business.

If Tender Administrators are aware of Aboriginal Businesses who are not yet included in the Aboriginal Business Directory, they are requested to contact Procurement Services who will follow up with the supplier encouraging them to register in Manitoba's Directory.

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Why should an Aboriginal Business register?
To confirm who they are, where they are located, and what goods or services they offer, so that Tender Administrators in government will be able to identify them as a possible source of supply. The Aboriginal Business Directory is a public resource that will enable business to partner with, or subcontract with aboriginal companies.

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What if an Aboriginal Business doesn't register?
The business won't be included on the Aboriginal Business Directory. This may mean that they may not be contacted for the supply of goods or services when a Tender Administrator uses the Directory as an information source to identify Aboriginal Businesses recognizing that.

Administrators may use the Directory when purchasing low dollar value requirements where they may contact an Aboriginal Business informally (ex: by phone or fax) for pricing on the supply of goods or services.

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What happens if the status of an Aboriginal Business changes after it has registered?
Registration on the Aboriginal Business Directory does not guarantee ongoing certification as an Aboriginal Business, as business status may change; therefore formal certification is also required in the formal tender process for individual requirements, at which time changes in status would be reported in the bid response.  Aboriginal Business are expected to inform Procurement Services Branch of any changes in status.

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Can an Aboriginal Business located outside of Manitoba register in the Manitoba's Aboriginal Business Directory?
Yes, providing the criteria for an Aboriginal owned business is met (see What is an Aboriginal Business?).

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Can a non-Aboriginal business register in Manitoba's Aboriginal Business Directory?
No, a non-Aboriginal business would not qualify because the criteria for an Aboriginal Business are not met (see What is an Aboriginal Business?).

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What is Certification?
Under the API, certification is a process to verify Aboriginal ownership and control of an Aboriginal Business. Certification is required to initially register in Manitoba’s Aboriginal Business Directory. Procurement Services will periodically contact the businesses in the Directory to verify that their status as an Aboriginal Business is unchanged and to update the list of goods or services they may provide.

In addition to the certification in the Directory, Manitoba will also require that an Aboriginal Business who is bidding on Manitoba tenders, certify their status as an Aboriginal Business at that time and verify their status will remain unchanged throughout the duration of a contract.

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When is Certification used?
Certification is a requirement when a bidder cites that Aboriginal Business involvement will be used to provide some, or all, of the requirement defined in the tender document.

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Is there a price preference for Aboriginal Businesses?
No, price preferences are not a consideration in the award of contracts to Aboriginal Businesses. However, when a tender calls for Aboriginal Business involvement, additional points are scored by an Aboriginal Business who is bidding as a prime contractor, or points scored by a non-Aboriginal business that may engage an Aboriginal Business as a subcontractor.

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Does an Aboriginal Business have to be competitive?
Yes, the Aboriginal Business Directory is only a resource for Tender Administrators to help identify what an Aboriginal Business can supply and is not used to determine qualification, capacity or competitiveness. Being included on the Aboriginal Business Directory does not constitute any guarantee that a contract will be awarded.

Tender Administrators must ensure that a competitive bidding process is used, and, as in all government purchasing, compliant bids, quality, cost and timeliness of delivering the goods or services are primary criteria in making purchasing decisions and awarding contracts. Achieving value-for-money is foundational to public sector procurement.

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Will Manitoba Aboriginal Businesses be given preference over Aboriginal Businesses located outside the Province?
Unlike the Government of Canada's Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business (PSAB), which is a nation wide program, Manitoba's API has a provincial focus. In keeping with community economic development as a key component of Manitoba's economic strategy, first consideration will be given to Manitoba Aboriginal owned firms in Set-Asides up to certain dollar thresholds. Set-Asides above the thresholds are open to all Canadian Aboriginal firms.

Options such as Mandatory Aboriginal Business Participation have evaluation criteria which enables Aboriginal Businesses located in Manitoba to potentially qualify for additional points during the evaluation of a bid.

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Is the API considered for both informal purchasing and formal tenders?
Yes, Tender Administrators will consider Aboriginal Procurement policy and guidelines when informal purchasing methods are used (ex: prices are obtained by phone or fax) and when formal tenders are issued. (See What if an Aboriginal Business doesn't register?)

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How can a non-Aboriginal business compete when Aboriginal Business Participation is requested?
When Aboriginal Business involvement is mandatory, a non-Aboriginal business may compete through partnerships, joint ventures, or subcontracting with an Aboriginal Business. The Aboriginal Business Directory can be used as a resource for non-Aboriginal business to source to identify Aboriginal Businesses with whom they may partner or subcontract.

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How can an Aboriginal Business participate in doing business with Manitoba?
Aboriginal businesses can participate in a number of ways including:

  • register on the Aboriginal Business Directory
  • inform Procurement Services of any changes to their information to maintain current information on the Aboriginal Business Directory
  • build relationships with Tender Administrators and procurement planning staff
  • develop partnerships/joint ventures or subcontracting arrangements with the non-Aboriginal business community as well as other Aboriginal Businesses
  • consider subscribing to, and monitoring Manitoba’s electronic tendering system (MERX™) for tender opportunities
  • ensure Aboriginal Business certification is provided when bidding on government tenders
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What kind of goods and services does Manitoba buy?
Procurement Services has a complete listing of goods they purchase on behalf of the Manitoba Government and will review this information with vendors when requested. In addition, each department in government has a Department Purchasing Coordinator who will be able to provide vendors with information on purchaisng activity within their particular department. A complete listing of the goods and services purchased by Procurement Services is available here

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Does the API apply to construction contracting?
The Aboriginal Procurement Policy requires that best efforts to engage Aboriginal Businesses be made by departments when tendering for construction and capital projects.

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How does Government issue tenders?
Departments of the Manitoba Government tender most of their requirements on Manitoba's electronic tendering system (MERX™) where new tender opportunities are listed daily. For detailed information on MERX™ refer to their website at www.merx.com or contact Procurement Services at 204-945-6361 for information or a demonstration of MERX™.

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How does a business find out more about how to sell to the government?
Procurement Services provides workshops for vendors on "How to Sell to Government", as well as specialized workshops on the Aboriginal Procurement Initiative. Suppliers may contact Procurement Services to arrange for attendance when an upcoming session is planned or to arrange a workshop in a community outside of Winnipeg. Contact Mark Freedman at Mark.Freedman@gov.mb.ca or 204-945-0826.

If a vendor would like to discuss the goods and services they provide in more detail and be connected with the staff responsible for the procurement of those goods or services, contact Procurement Services and arrange for a personal meeting with a government representative. Additional information on Government Buyers is available online at http://www.gov.mb.ca/mit/psb/buysell/gov_buyers.html.

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Does the government have a bid matching service?
Manitoba's electronic tendering system (MERX™) includes the feature of "Bid Matching" service to which vendors may subscribe, that will flag tender opportunities that match the vendor's profile of the goods and services they provide. For additional information, contact MERX™ at 1-800-964-6379 or at www.merx.com.

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Will vendors always be notified when tenders are posted to an electronic tendering service?
No. Administrators may, at their discretion, periodically send an Advance Notice of tender opportunities based on previous business experience/knowledge of vendors and the contracts being planned. For example, vendors may not locate a tender opportunity on a long term contract that is renewed every 3 or 4 years. Use of Advance Notice alerts potential bidders to the tender opportunity. Advance Notice is used infrequently and it remains the responsibility of businesses to monitor MERX™.

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How was Manitoba's API developed?
An Aboriginal Procurement Work Group with representation from across government canvassed jurisdictions in Manitoba (ex: Manitoba Hydro), Canada and the United States, to review their strategies for best practices pertaining to Aboriginal procurement programs. The Federal Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business (PSAB) was the most comprehensive existing model and Manitoba Hydro's Northern Procurement Policy as the best local model. Both have helped shape Manitoba's API framework. The policy and guidelines were developed in consultation with the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce, the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, the Winnipeg Chambers of Commerce, and key departments within Government.

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How will government measure the success or achievements of the API?
Manitoba tracks the purchases from Aboriginal Businesses each year by the type of goods or services provided. In addition, on-going dialogue will be maintained with the Aboriginal Business and non-Aboriginal business community as well as government departments.

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How does a person provide feedback or comments on the API?
Comments can be provided through the Procurement Services website at www.gov.mb.ca/mit/psb or by contacting Mark Freedman at Mark.Freedman@gov.mb.ca or 204-945-0826.

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What are the procurement tools available to assist Tender Administrators in the implementation of the Aboriginal Procurement Initiative?
There are a number of resources and options that help Tender Administrators identify an Aboriginal Business, and choose the appropriate procurement option that best suits their particular requirements. An Aboriginal Procurement Assessment is undertaken by Administrators which helps to identify the most suitable options such as Set-Asides, Mandatory Aboriginal Business Participation or Desirable Aboriginal Business Participation.

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What is Aboriginal Business Set-Asides?
A procurement for goods and services that has been reserved for competition among Aboriginal Businesses only. Non-Aboriginal businesses would not qualify to be able to bid on a Set-Aside.

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What is Manitoba Aboriginal Business Set-Asides?
A procurement for goods and services that has been reserved for competition among Aboriginal Businesses only that are also based in Manitoba.

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What is Canada Aboriginal Business Set-Asides?
A procurement for goods and services that has been reserved for competition only among Aboriginal Businesses regardless of their location in Canada.

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What is Mandatory Aboriginal Business Participation?
A condition of a tender that specifies a portion of the contract must be provided by an Aboriginal business and or sub-contractors when using a Request for Quotation or Request for Proposal.

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What is Mandatory Aboriginal Business Participation?
A condition of a tender that specifies a portion of the contract must be provided by a Canadian Aboriginal Business and Subcontractors when using a Request for Quotatioin (RFQ) or a Request for Proposals (RFP).

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What is Desirable Aboriginal Business Participation?
A (non-mandatory) condition of a tender that indicates that Aboriginal Business Involvement is desirable and points will be assigned in the tender document for Aboriginal Business Participation.

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What is Aboriginal Business Standard?
Information included on a tender that alerts vendors to Manitoba's Aboriginal Procurement Initiative and invites them to register on Manitoba's Aboriginal Business Directory. In addition, they are encouraged to provide Aboriginal Business Participation but no points will be assigned in the tender document.

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Is the API consistent with the Agreement on Internal Trade?
Yes, as per Article 1802 in the Agreement on Internal Trade, "this Agreement does not apply to any measure adopted or maintained with respect to Aboriginal peoples."

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Is Manitoba's API open to all Canadian Aboriginal Businesses?
Yes, all Aboriginal Businesses can bid except for Set-Asides under $25,000 for goods and under $100,000 for services.  Set-Asides for goods and services under these thresholds are reserved for competition among Manitoba Aboriginal Business (See hat is Manitoba Aboriginal Set-Asides?).

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Is employment of Aboriginal people by a vendor a consideration under this Initiative?
No.  The API focuses on the supply of goods and services from an Aboriginal Business. However, qualification as an Aboriginal Business stipulates that if the business has six or more full-time employees, at least one-third of those full-time employees must be Aboriginal Persons; indirectly supporting the employment of Aboriginal Persons.

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