Vendor or Contractor


What are the benefits of the new procurement provisions?

The procurement provisions under this agreement will increase opportunities for Alberta and BC companies by lowering thresholds for goods and services purchasing. In addition, the agreement covers a number of services currently excluded from the Agreement on Internal Trade. It will help reduce costs to government by increasing competition.

Do the TILMA procurement rules replace those of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)?

No, Alberta and BC remain Parties to the AIT and must ensure that the obligations under both Agreements are met.

TILMA builds upon the goals of the AIT and further breaks down trade barriers between the two signatory provinces, i.e. Alberta and British Columbia. For procurement, this objective is met by:

  • Lowering procurement thresholds;
  • Containing fewer procurement exceptions;
  • Covering a wider range of professional services; and
  • Establishing a dispute process that is effective and enforceable.

Who is covered by the TILMA procurement provisions?

All BC and Alberta government entities, including departments, agencies, boards, councils, committees and commissions have been covered under TILMA since April 1, 2007.

Effective April 1, 2009, TILMA applies to crown corporations and the MASH Sector, which includes municipalities, municipal organizations, school boards and publicly funded academic institutions (post-secondary institutions), health authorities, as well as any corporation or entity owned or controlled by one or more of them.

What does TILMA apply to?

Measures adopted and maintained by each Party and its entities must be in compliance with the TILMA. Measures include any legislation, regulation, directive, requirement, or guideline, program, policy, administrative practice or procurement procedure. Entities should ensure that staff involved in the purchase of goods and contracting for services and construction are aware of and understand the rules of the TILMA. Each Party is responsible for TILMA compliance by its entities.

What are the procurement thresholds in TILMA?

TILMA Article 14 sets the procurement thresholds for Governments of Alberta and BC departments, MASH sector and crown corporations.

TILMA's procurement thresholds for these entities are summarized below: Government Departments

  • Goods of $10,000 or greater
  • Services of $75,000 or greater
  • Construction of $100,000 or greater

MASH Sector

  • Goods of $75,000 or greater
  • Services of $75,000 or greater
  • Construction of $200,000 or greater

For Alberta provincial crown corporations

  • Goods of $25,000 or greater
  • Services of $100,000 or greater
  • Construction of $100,000 or greater

For BC crown corporations, effective April 1, 2009 until March 31, 2010

  • Goods of $250,000 or greater
  • Services of $250,000 or greater
  • Construction of $2,500,000 or greater

After April 1, 2010 BC's procurement thresholds for crown corporations will match Alberta's thresholds.

What should be considered when calculating procurement value?

TILMA defines procurement value as the estimated total financial cost resulting from a procurement, not taking into account optional renewals when the compulsory part of the contract is at least one year in duration. For example, if you were contracting for a service worth $50,000 per year and the contract was for three years, with the option to renew for two years, the procurement value of that contract would be $150,000. The value should include all premiums, GST where applicable, fees and commissions and should cover only that term of the contract for which commitment is initially made.

Splitting a procurement into smaller pieces with the intent to circumvent TILMA is considered a discriminatory practice, as is the case under the AIT. For example, if you as a MASH sector entity know you need four trucks over the next year, each worth $50,000, you should not purchase them one at a time specifically for the purpose of avoiding an open and competitive process.

What does procurement cover?

Procurement refers to the purchase, rental, lease, or conditional sale of goods, services or construction. It does not include government assistance such as grants, loans, equity infusion, guarantees or fiscal incentives, or government provision of goods and services to persons or other government organizations.

What professional services are covered?

Under TILMA, the procurement of almost all professional services is covered. This includes the services of professions excluded under AIT such as land surveyors, veterinarians, architects and engineers, as well as advertising and public relations services. Treasury services and the services of lawyers and notaries are not covered under either TILMA or AIT.

What are TILMA-compliant procurement procedures?

The procurement provisions of TILMA are based on the idea that competition is the norm. TILMA specifies that when a procurement is at or above the threshold, an open, transparent and competitive procurement process must be followed. This requires that solicitation documents clearly state the requirement of the procurement, identify measurable criteria that will be used in the evaluation of bids (including the weighting of each criteria), and provide relevant information to assist suppliers in completing and submitting their bids. Where an existing contract arrangement is in place for the provision of goods, services or construction, no extension, price change or subsequent purchase may take place unless the intention to do so was clearly stated within the original solicitation (bidding) document. When strategic partnership/alliance arrangements are contemplated and there is a procurement component at or above the thresholds then this arrangement is also subject to the TILMA procurement rules.

Is the pre-qualification process compliant under TILMA?

Yes. As with an RFP process, the pre-qualification process must be open and transparent, starting with posting a defined set of criteria required for pre-qualification in a particular area of work. Notices for pre-qualification must be posted at a minimum frequency of once a year. If this process is followed, RFPs can be sent directly to all contractors pre-qualified in that particular area of work, even for projects over TILMA thresholds.

Is group purchasing permissible under TILMA?

Yes, so long as group purchasing activities are carried out in a manner that is consistent with TILMA (e.g. using an open and transparent process).

How does TILMA affect preferential purchasing policies?

The operating principle of TILMA and AIT is to ensure that Canadian suppliers are not discriminated against based on their geographic location. This means that entities must consider persons, goods and services from other provinces equal to their own.

TILMA does not permit preferential treatment of specific suppliers. For example, organizations buying goods or services cannot bias technical specifications that either favour or disadvantage specific suppliers from Alberta or BC.

Some entities have expressed concerns that service levels may be less when using a remote supplier, as opposed to a local one. Entities should define their required service levels within the RFP and contracting process. For example, an entity could require that a person must be onsite during the construction process, that parts must be available to the entity within 24 hours at the contractor's expense, or that a service/repair agent must be available on location within 48 hours at the contractor's expense. A supplier's location cannot be used to limit their ability to compete on a contract, or hinder the success of their bid if the defined service levels can be met.

Do tender notices have to be published in a certain place?

In Alberta, all of Alberta's public sector procurement notices for contracts over TILMA thresholds must be posted on the Alberta Purchasing Connection (APC), at www.purchasingconnection.ca. To obtain access to the APC, go to the website and complete the new user registration form accessible through the login page.

In BC, notices are available through www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca. Furthermore, BC and Alberta have cooperated to ensure the other provinces' opportunities are posted on their respective sites.

What are the exceptions to TILMA?

While TILMA applies to most purchasing, there are a number of areas that are excluded, including but not limited to:

  • health and social services;
  • lawyer and notary services;
  • emergency situations;
  • goods intended for resale to the public; and,
  • sole-supplier situations, when it can be demonstrated that only one contractor in BC and Alberta provides the product or service needed.

For the detailed list, refer to Part V (Exceptions) of the TILMA.

How does TILMA affect long-standing contracts?

Entities may continue with long-standing contracts that it entered into before the effective date of the Agreement, even if that contract is inconsistent with TILMA, for the duration set out in the original contract. These can only be renewed after that date if the original request for proposal (RFP) and contract contained an option to renew.

What happens if an objection is raised against an entity's procurement practice under TILMA?

British Columbia and Alberta are currently working on a procurement protest mechanism which, when finalized, will be available to vendors to address concerns or objections about specific procurements.

Whom can I contact if I have questions?

In Alberta, contact (780) 644-7430 or send an e-mail to the Manager, Vendor and Trade Development at chelle.busch@gov.ab.ca.

In BC, contact (250) 387-2338 or send an e-mail to the Senior Procurement Governance Analyst at david.trudel@gov.bc.ca.



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