Ministers responsible for internal trade from every province and territory across Canada met this week (June 9) and have agreed to move quickly to remove internal trade barriers in Canada. Small and medium sized businesses in the office products industry that want to see changes allowing set-asides for small businesses on the basis of economic development are being encouraged to contact their federal and provincial MPs, as well as the federal and provincial ministers responsible for trade and economic development, right now.
Federal industry minister James Moore called the commitment to create a new internal trade regime by March 2016 “a great moment for Canada,” hinting that all 10 provinces and three territories were willing to look at creating some kind of mutual recognition for each other’s standards—including trucking regulations and provincial licensing of trades and professions.
“There should be as much free trade within Canada as there is between Canada and the United States or the European Union,” said Moore.
Small and medium-sized businesses are being encouraged to forward the following letter to their federal and provincial MPs, as well as the federal and provincial ministers responsible for trade and economic development:
As you are aware, the Agreement on Internal Trade is being re-visited by federal and provincial trade/economic development ministers at this time. On the aspect of Government Procurement (at all levels of government), SMEs seek an approach that will recalibrate the economic disparity between “size classes” of supplier while providing an open and competitive arena that crosses provincial and territorial boundaries. International trade agreements, that Canada is signatory to, already have provisions for the set-aside of government procurement for both aboriginal owned and small businesses. It is therefore reasonable to expect that our country’s own internal trade agreement have similar provisions.
The statement of purpose of the AIT’s Government Procurement chapter stipulates that the purpose of the Chapter is to establish a framework that will ensure equal access to procurement for all Canadian suppliers; it also makes a strong reference to the development of a strong economy. As over 90% of our economy is SME, it seems a reasonable conclusion that the development of a strong economy should focus on developing and strengthening Canadian SMEs in a fairness driven framework that affords them the opportunity to become bigger and stronger competitors.
The term “equal access” seems to be the biggest hurdle to the establishment of small business set asides. Alternatively, the term “fair access” may be preferable as it takes other factors into consideration. For example: The concept of fairness in sport often sees participants to a competition separated by class weight and size. This ensures that smaller, lighter, or less experienced participants have an equal opportunity to compete against participants of like size and capability.
As the (INSERT TITLE OF Minister or MP HERE), we hereby request you take action on behalf of SMEs in your (Constituency, Province or Electorate) to put in place a mechanism that allows the reasonable use of set-asides for small business in the area of government procurement.