Building Ontario Businesses Initiative

Small Business Canada

The Building Ontario Businesses Initiative (BOBI) will reduce barriers and provide companies in Ontario with greater access to public procurement opportunities, helping them to sell more goods and services, create jobs in their local communities, and recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will also strengthen Ontario’s supply chain resiliency and better prepare our province for potential future emergencies.

BOBI will apply to all public sector procurements, touching ministries, agencies, hospitals, school boards, and universities among other institutions. These organizations will receive training and education to support them to use BOBI effectively in their procurements.

Like other governments and jurisdictions, Ontario uses competitive procurement processes to procure goods and services. Businesses that bid on procurements provide submissions that are evaluated on factors such as price, experience, and specified qualifications. BOBI will expand on the typical technical requirements to incorporate the evaluation of criteria such as social and economic considerations, leveling the playing field for businesses in Ontario and the communities they serve.

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For example:

  • A tech start-up in Waterloo pays its employees fair wages, which results in higher costs to develop software than some of its overseas competitors. With BOBI, when bidding for government procurement contracts, these extra costs are taken into consideration.
  • A Brampton uniform manufacturer follows Ontario’s strict environmental standards when disposing of waste, which adds additional expenses compared to some competitors who pollute for free. With BOBI, businesses who pay to protect our environment will have a fairer chance in the bidding process.
  • A Sault Ste. Marie office supply manufacturer follows Ontario law and provides a safe working environment for its employees, which comes with associated costs that some competitors do not have. With BOBI, these extra costs will not hinder its bid.

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In addition, through the Fewer Fees, Better Services Act, the government passed the Building Ontario Businesses Initiative Act that would require public sector buyers to give businesses in Ontario preference when conducting procurements for goods and services under trade agreement thresholds. This legislative change will see the government targeting to spend at least $3 billion in contracts awarded to Ontario businesses annually by 2026, further creating immense economic opportunity for Ontarians. The definition of an Ontario business is currently being consulted on with input from business associations and stakeholders.

Businesses seeking Ontario contracts valued at $10 million and above will need to commit to helping build Ontario’s supply chain and contribute to economic growth, through the Industrial Regional and Technology Benefit (IRTB) requirement. The IRTB is intended to maximize the local economic impacts of the province’s large procurements by embedding economic development considerations into the procurement process. This will not only encourage long-term sustainability and growth in the Ontario-based industry directly related to the procurement, but also promote the enhancement of innovation, including through research and development in Ontario.

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