With the proactive deployment of the following policies, there becomes a streamlined and dedicated pathway toward First Nations forest products producers supplying First Nations community building projects:
- Duty to Consult – First Nations communities insisting on the use of First Nations forest products
- Treasury Board Economic Impact – First Nations communities insisting on the realization of economic benefits by using First Nations forest products
- Tendering Policy on Federally Funded Capital Projects – First Nations communities maximize the use and development of available First Nation resources
- Canadian Content – First Nations communities ensuring that Canadian-made products (e.g. First Nations forest products) are used in building projects
- Policy on Green Procurement – First Nations communities requiring the use of certified wood products; especially FSC as it is most aligned with Aboriginal interests
- Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business – First Nations forest products producers have priority access to supplying First Nations building projects
- National Building Code – Changes to allow wood framed buildings to six storeys
Duty to Consult
First Nations communities and leadership have the authority to specify the use of First Nations forest products under the duty to consult policy.
When a structure is built on-reserve in Canada, all federal departments and agencies are required to comply with the legal duty to consult. There is a responsibility to comply with the legal duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate when the proposed activity, to which the procurement relates, may adversely impact on potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights. Accommodation measures should include terms and conditions on approvals or authorizations related to the source and origins of the wood products used in the building project.
This process should take place prior to the client sending the requisition to PWGSC, as consultation and accommodation may impact the procurement strategy as a whole, including the statement of work, procurement process timeline, funding, approval level required and even the decision to proceed with the proposed activity.
Treasury Board Economic Impact
With the majority of non-residential building project on reserve (i.e. schools, arenas, community centres, etc.) exceeding $2 million in cost, the Treasury Boards policy of economic impact will apply. Under duty to consult, it may be possible to use this policy as assurance that First Nations wood products will be used extensively in all building projects on reserve.
“The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Procurement Review Policy determined that its procurement activities should also be consistent with and supportive of such national objectives as…aboriginal economic development, the environment and other approved socio-economic objectives”
“The government has confirmed that all procurements in excess of $2 million must be reviewed for potential regional and industrial benefits. To ensure that this review is carried out in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and in recognition of the diverse interests involved, Treasury Board has established an interdepartmental procurement review process applying to all such procurements.”
“Factors for consideration in this policy clearly include Aboriginal economic development: the extent to which the proposed procurement action is likely to contribute to the growth or enhancement of aboriginal businesses and communities consistent with the government’s objectives under the Canadian Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy (CAEDS).”
Capital Facilities & Maintenance Program
Operated under AANDC, the Capital Facilities & Maintenance Program is intended to assist First Nations in the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, repair, renovation, and replacement of community infrastructure and facilities. This includes elementary and secondary educational facilities, housing, fire halls, and community buildings such as community / recreation halls and band offices.
The Program objectives are to assist First Nations in making capital and facility, operational and maintenance plans and investment decisions that:
- maximize the life-cycle of physical assets
- mitigate health and safety risks
- ensure assets meet applicable codes and standards
- ensure programs are managed and delivered in a cost-effective, environmentally sound and sustainable manner
First Nations Infrastructure Investment Plans (FNIIPs) are five-year capital investment plans created by each First Nation community which detail infrastructure needs and plans. As set out in the Recipient Reporting Guide, an updated FNIIP must be prepared each year before capital funds are released to First Nations. The community level FNIIP is based upon mandatory reporting requirements prescribed by the Recipient Reporting Guide. It is developed by communities with the support of the AANDC Regional Offices and then submitted for validation and incorporation into the Regional FNIIP.
It is AANDC’s goal to ensure that every community develops their own five year infrastructure plan based on an asset life-cycle approach. Where First Nations do not have the expertise or the capacity to develop their own community level five year plan, AANDC officials at the regional level will assist communities with the identification of their infrastructure priorities and the development of infrastructure plans. AANDC is continuously working with First Nations to increase their capacity in this area.
Tendering Policy on Federally Funded Capital Projects for First Nations on Reserve
Federally funded capital projects administered by First Nations must be supported by the First Nations’ own tendering policies which should recognize the requirements as stated below. The policies should encompass the key principles and mechanisms applied by the public and private sectors in tendering projects, while allowing for opportunities to incorporate local socio-economic benefits.
The following is a list of principles that must be included in First Nations tendering policies:
- a commitment to deal with all potential bidders on an equitable basis;
- a commitment to establish specific criteria within which an open tendering process.
In addition, First Nations may also want to consider outlining the following within their tendering policies:
- a commitment to maximize the use and development of available First Nation resources or skills;
- a commitment to develop and review annually a source list of qualified local and Aboriginal suppliers from which to invite bids for projects under $500,000; and
- where construction cost is over $500,000 – for capital projects excluding housing, which are funded in whole or in part by federal government contributions, open tenders must be called and publicly advertised to allow interested contractors an opportunity to bid on the project.
The Canadian Content Policy encourages industrial development in Canada by limiting, in specific circumstances, competition for government procurement opportunities to suppliers of Canadian goods and services. A good wholly manufactured or originating in Canada is considered a Canadian good. A product containing imported components may also be considered Canadian for the purpose of this policy when it has undergone sufficient change in Canada, in a manner that satisfies the definition specified under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Rules of Origin.
If the value of the procurement is equal to or greater than $25,000, the Canadian Content Policy will be applied to procurements set-aside for Aboriginal business.
In applying the Policy under a set aside procurement, it must be recognized that there are two levels of certification.
The first level of certification will be to qualify the bidder(s) as eligible for set-aside consideration, i.e. bidders must provide a certification that they are an Aboriginal business.
At the second level, contracting officers must then apply the Policy, in the same manner as any other procurement, in the context of the supplier community which is eligible to respond (i.e. the Aboriginal business community).
Contracting officers must determine, on the basis of their knowledge of this community, whether there are a sufficient number of eligible firms to carry out the procurement as:
- Solely limited (e.g. two or more Aboriginal businesses exist which are able to provide Canadian goods and/or services)
- Conditionally limited (e.g. there may be two or more Aboriginal suppliers of Canadian goods or services)
- Open (e.g. there is an insufficient number of Aboriginal businesses able to provide Canadian goods and/or services; the procurement is open to all Aboriginal businesses regardless of the origin of the goods and services supplied)
Policy on Green Procurement
First Nations who are FSC-certified forest tenure holders or are FSC certified manufacturers of forest products are preferential suppliers under the Policy on Green Procurement.
“PWGSC requires all wood products used in its building projects to be certified under one of the three certification systems that operate in Canada: the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management Standard, the Forest Stewardship Council’s system or the Sustainable Forests Initiative’s system.”
Furthermore, under the Green Procurement, contracting officers with PWGSC must develop a green procurement plan. Under the duty to consult policy First Nations communities could define the volume of First Nations-sourced forest products in their building projects.
“For commodities under the commodity management framework, contracting officers must develop a green procurement plan and procurements must be done in accordance with this plan. The completed plan serves as an example of green procurement best practices.”
Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business
Under the PSAB program, there is a dedicated system for Aboriginal businesses to leverage a priority bidding position over non-Aboriginal businesses. When a procurement tender is designed and designated directly (by involved First Nations), procurement officers with PWGSC employ one of two types of set-asides:
1) Mandatory Set-Asides:
It is mandatory to set aside a procurement under PSAB if an Aboriginal population is the primary recipient or end user of the goods or services being procured and the value exceeds $5,000, provided that operational requirements, prudence, probity, best value and sound contracting management can be assured.
In order for an Aboriginal population to be the primary recipient or end user of the goods or services being procured, delivery does not have to be directly to the Aboriginal community. For example, goods may be delivered to a government department site and later distributed to Aboriginal communities, groups or individuals.
2) Voluntary Set-Asides:
Client departments may designate any procurement as being restricted exclusively to qualified Aboriginal suppliers. Contracting officers should assist client departments in meeting their performance objectives under the program, by drawing their attention to opportunities for voluntary PSAB set-asides, when qualified Aboriginal suppliers are known to exist in the marketplace.
PWGSC will not unilaterally declare a procurement set-aside under PSAB. However, following receipt of a requisition above $5,000, for which an Aboriginal population is the primary recipient or end user, but is not designated as a PSAB set-aside, the contracting officer should contact the client department and identify the potential omission. If the client indicates that the procurement is not to be set aside under PSAB, the file should be annotated accordingly, and the procurement may then proceed.
Building Codes For Six-Storey Wood Framed Construction
Expanded opportunities exist for communities to support, implement and increase the use of First Nations forest products through building design, in alignment with National and Provincial Building Codes.
With the introduction of wood-framed construction to six-storeys, many on-reserve projects can now realize cost efficiencies and benefits of wood use in projects such as:
- Multi-family units
- Mixed-use commercial / residential buildings
Out west in May of 2008, Rich Coleman, BC Minister Responsible for Housing, announced government’s intention to increase the maximum height for wood-frame residential construction from four to six storeys. These new BC Building Code requirements were approved in January 2009 and became effective April 6, 2009. As of November 2014, building permit applications for six-storey wood-frame construction were being accepted.
In the east, on September 23, 2014, Ontario Regulation 191/14 was filed to amend the 2012 Building Code, Ontario Regulation 332/12. These amendments increased the permitted height of certain wood frame buildings from four to six storeys, and took effect on January 1, 2015. Under the new Building Code provisions, residential (“Group C”) and office buildings (“Group D”) can be constructed using wood-frame construction up to six storeys.