Arrangements made by public bodies provide for the possibility of contracting private actors in order to offer the goods and services needed to meet their public interest mandate. These calls for tenders may include, for example, the execution of construction projects. In Canada, each level of government is free to adopt and apply its own procurement rules. Trade agreements signed by Canada include a «procurement» chapter to ensure that such contracts are awarded in compliance with the principles of non-discrimination, transparency and impartiality. However, there is no specific mention of a social clause. Many calls for tenders are already open to international competition through the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) that entered into force in 2014 under the auspices of the WTO. Canada and 46 other WTO members are now parties to the Agreement, reflecting the desire to create an effective framework for the liberalization of public procurement. Even though it is subject to a renegotiation process every two years, it does not currently provide for any social clause. The GPA is a legally binding treaty that provides two independent mechanisms for settling procurement-related disputes: domestic review mechanisms at the national level; and the WTO dispute settlement mechanism at the international level.
Only the CETA provides for the use of labour and social criteria in the tendering process.
Ways of linking workers’ rights to public procurement
Mentioning explicitly the possibility of including social considerations in tender procedures, a conditionality that can support the effective application of workers’ rights.
Adopting a specific provision allowing Canada to legislate on the inclusion of a social clause in calls for tenders to award and execute public contracts in Canada.
Linking the «procurement» chapter in trade agreements to compliance with the terms of «trade and labour» chapters.
Promoting the inclusion of a social clause within the context of further GPA re-negotiations by linking it to the pertinent ILO conventions.