Social Procurement FAQ's

What is social procurement?

Social procurement leverages an organization's existing purchasing power to increase community benefits. Benefits include targeted employment or training of marginalized people, local economic development, and environmental benefits.

What are the benefits of social procurement?

Increasing employment opportunities for disadvantaged groups who may face barriers in accessing the labour market can also lead to further economic and social benefits to members of York’s extended community. Locally-owned businesses, including social and co-operative enterprises, are critical job creators, have a direct line of sight to the environmental impact of their business decisions, are more likely to employ vulnerable members of the community and more likely to invest in community. Social procurement opportunities to these businesses can enhance the positive social, economic, and environmental returns to communities.

What is an Anchor Institution?

Anchor institutions are public or non-profit organizations such as universities, libraries and hospitals, that are rooted in their community aimed at fostering engagement with local businesses and workers to further economic development.

Who are Diverse suppliers/vendors?

A diverse supplier is a business that is more than 50 percent owned, managed and controlled by an equity-seeking community or social purpose enterprise. These communities include, but are not limited to, women, Indigenous people, racial minorities, persons with disabilities, newcomers and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Two-spirit (LGBTQ2S) community.

What is an Equity-seeking community?

An equity-seeking community is a group that experiences discrimination or barriers to equal opportunity, including women, persons with disabilities, newcomers/new immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, visible minorities/racialized people, and other groups, including local community groups that York identifies as historically underrepresented.

What is Social Enterprise?

A social enterprise is a business that sells goods and services; they embed a social, cultural or environmental purpose into the business, and they reinvest most of their profits into their social mission.

Do social procurement programs increase the cost of the goods and services being procured?

Social procurement is not an added cost, but an innovative adaptation of current procurement processes to achieve wider goals. Goods and services are still purchased through a competitive and transparent bidding process, while added value is sought by including social impact criteria as part of the bid evaluation process. Social procurement can be an integral element of infrastructure and other major development projects.

How are the principles of York's Social Procurement Policy being used?

York's Social Procurement principles are already being implemented in several pilot projects, such as the new School of Continuing Studies construction project. Contract language that guarantees positive social and community benefits were embedded into the project Tender documents, whereby the selected bidder was required to:

  • In collaboration with local non-profit intermediaries and trade unions, select individuals from within the equity-seeking community for trade apprenticeship opportunities;
  • Hire local full-time and part-time onsite and administrative labour; and
  • Hard targets with respect to spend directed toward local social enterprise and diverse suppliers.

Is it legal to do social procurement?

Yes. Various levels of Governments have implemented or are in the process of implementing social procurement policies and programs. The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), which governs interprovincial trade and procurement supports social procurement by the addition of certain exemptions when doing business with social enterprises and businesses owned by aboriginals.