What Is Social Procurement?

Are the dollars you spend supporting your local economy?

Social procurement is a growing best practice that governments & other public purchasers can use to create social, environmental & ethical value that can contribute to building healthy and resilient communities.

Across British Columbia, local governments and other large purchasers spend billions of dollars on goods, services and infrastructure projects. Since 2016, BCSPI members have been identifying ways to integrate social procurement principles and actions into their spending to create additional social, environmental & ethical value that can contribute directly to the social and economic resiliency of our communities.

What is social procurement?

Every purchase has a social, economic, cultural, and environmental impact. Social procurement is about using your existing purchasing to capture those impacts to achieve overarching institutional, governmental, or organizational goals that help shape inclusive, vibrant and healthy communities. It is a shift from requiring ‘lowest price’ to achieving ‘best value’.

Watch this short video from BCSPI delivery partner, Buy Social Canada to learn more.

Why is social procurement important?

Local governments spend millions of dollars annually. There is an opportunity for local governments to look at the potential for their spending to support local employment, economic and community benefits. For smaller communities and those in economic transition, local government spending can be a significant lever to generate positive local and community impacts.

How can social procurement create additional value?

By including social procurement in their purchasing processes organizations can create additional social and environmental value from their existing spending. This ensures dollars spent are contributing to identified economic and social objectives and helping mitigate many pressing social and environmental issues.

What issues can social procurement help to address?

Governments and other institutional purchasers can use their existing purchasing power to address many issues that are growing concerns and community priorities. BCSPI’s “Purchasing Power” learning series explores just some of ways social procurement can address a number of issues including supporting local economies, engaging Indigenous businesses, increasing food security, supporting diversity and inclusion and addressing climate change.

Read the report to learn more or visit the Training & Events Page to watch the full series.

What is social procurement

Social procurement in action

These local case studies from BCSPI member communities provide examples and ideas for how to begin implementing social procurement. They also discuss important outcomes and lessons learned throughout each process.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District: Community Groups Deliver Value

Read about how non-profit organizations were included in the ACRD’s recycling program expansion to the benefit of the local community.

Village of Cumberland: Maximizing the Benefits

Learn how the Village of Cumberland used social procurement to create community benefits from the cannabis retail industry.

City of Victoria: Small Credit Card Spends for Community Benefit

The city includes social procurement training for corporate credit card holders to create social value opportunities in its smaller spends.

Comox Valley Regional District: Community Employment Benefits

Read how the CVRD exceeded their community employment benefit commitments in a Federally-funded major infrastructure project.

Read more BCSPI member case studies on our resources page

Does it cost more?

In terms of proposals received, so far there has not been an increase in costs. In fact, by unbundling projects (breaking large contracts into smaller, clearly separate parts), there has even been significant cost savings that result from goods and services being delivered by local businesses. However, depending on what the goals might be, a decision could be made to pay more for greater value.

What about the trade agreements?

Yes, governments have to comply with trade agreements. You cannot restrict competition, but you can seek social value outcomes from all bidders. The important part is making the process competitive and transparent for all bidders.

How much extra work will it take?

Implementing social procurement is affordable and achievable for local governments with BCSPI membership.  BCSPI adds capacity and takes away the heavy lifting by meeting member staff where they are at with a social procurement implementation journey that is achievable and fully supported by training, templates, shared examples, coaching and a whole host of other resources.

Ready to take the next step?

BCSPI membership makes it easy

BCSPI provides the capacity building, training, coaching and other resources that organizations need to easily implement social procurement practices to create additional social, environmental & ethical value from their existing spending.

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