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CAMSC calls for procurement policy reform to drive economic growth


OTTAWA, Oct. 02/DiversityBusiness.com/ -- Canada has the opportunity to develop new private and public sector procurement policies that will improve Canada's economic performance, stimulate growth and increase Canada's access to the global knowledge-based economy, says a report released today by the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC).

The report, presented today at the Aboriginal and Minority Procurement Policy Conference in Ottawa, proposes reforms including the call for corporations that do business with the federal government to report their annual procurement spend with aboriginal and minority companies. The report also calls for the harmonization of federal purchasing rules with U.S. regulations, which will expand market opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs.

"The full participation of aboriginals and visible minorities in the Canadian economy is crucial for Canada's competitiveness and our place in the global economy," said Orrin Benn, president, CAMSC. "Many aboriginals and visible minorities are already active entrepreneurs. They are tremendous contributors to Canada's private sector, and are more likely to be engaged in research and development than other entrepreneurs."

By 2017, Statistics Canada projects that aboriginals and visible minorities will comprise more than 25 per cent of Canada's population. This diversity holds great potential for the Canadian economy. On average, visible minorities have entered the small and mid-sized enterprise (SME) marketplace at a rate 1.5 times faster than other entrepreneurs. The diversity of Canada's minority brain-pool can provide access to emerging markets in an increasingly global economy. Moreover, visible minority SMEs tend to be larger than average. They are more than twice as likely to operate in knowledge-based industries. They invest more in research and development.

The proposed procurement reforms have tremendous potential to improve Canada's economic competitiveness and stimulate growth by integrating minority businesses into the Canadian economy while building a sustainable, long-term platform to alleviate poverty.

Though Canada's economic growth has recently averaged three per cent a year and unemployment is at its lowest in 30 years, the Canadian standard of living lags behind the U.S., and the country's growth in productivity and real per capita GDP is sliding relative to other countries.

RBC Financial Group economists conclude that the combined personal incomes of all Canadians would increase annually by $13 billion if foreign-born workers were as successful in the workforce as those born in Canada.

The CAMSC report, Why Aboriginal and Minority Business Integration is Essential to Canada's Economic Growth, details eight key key reform strategies based on Canada's experience and international best practices including:

  • Creation of private sector procurement partnerships
  • Development of SME and aboriginal and minority business infrastructure
  • Harmonization of communications strategy within government
  • Implementation of uniform evaluation, data, and reporting
  • Provision of partnerships and special services for women-owned businesses
  • Building linkages to civil society
  • Mentoring program initiation
  • Certification collaboration

"We are calling for a procurement policy that requires companies doing business with the federal government and with crown corporations to report on their purchases from aboriginal and minority suppliers," said Benn. "We're also calling for the harmonization of federal purchasing rules with U.S. regulations, which will expand market opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs. Aboriginals and visible minorities are indispensable to Canada's economic future. Procurement policy is an effective tool to improve their access and integration in the Canadian economy."

Experience in the U.S. illustrates the benefits of a federal procurement policy that targets aboriginal and minority business growth. In the U.S., federal government minority contracting opportunities serve as a major point of entry for socially and economically disadvantaged business entrepreneurs and small businesses, with impressive results. Between 1982 and 1997, the number of minority-owned companies grew at an annual rate of 8.5% - three times that of U.S. businesses overall(5).

The Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council is an independent, non-profit organization that aims to boost economic development efforts, employment and inclusion for aboriginal and visible minority businesses through business relations and mentoring. Corporations operating in Canada also benefit from this initiative by gaining a better understanding of and access to ethnic communities, while diversifying and improving their supplier chain base. CAMSC is headquartered in Markham, Ont. For more information, visit www.camsc.ca.

For further information: Media contacts: Deborah Rowe, Environics Communications for CAMSC, (416) 969-2712, drowe@environicspr.com; Amber Neumann, Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, (905) 479-1114, aneumann@camsc.ca

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