Social Procurement Today and Tomorrow: A recap of the Buy Social Canada Symposium 2021

May 25th, 2021

“My dream is that we level the playing field to a point that all procurement is social procurement”

– Eduardo Gomez, Manager of Procurement Transformation at the City of Calgary, Social Procurement Champion Award Winner

On April 26, 2021, Buy Social Canada in collaboration with SEWF hosted the Buy Social Canada Symposium to connect, inspire and engage communities to explore the exciting growth in social procurement today and imagine the potential for tomorrow.

The day kicked off with Lorenzo Ieraci from Public Service and Procurement Canada, Victor Beausoleil from SETSI and David LePage, author of Marketplace Revolution, discussing the Canadian social procurement initiatives and the potential to create diversity, equity and inclusion through Social Procurement Today & Tomorrow. Victor succinctly said, “Social procurement is not just about levelling the playing field, it’s about tilting the field to achieve inclusive and diverse outcomes”

Across Canada, municipalities are harnessing the power of their purchasing to create benefits for their communities. In Leading Municipalities Colleen Evans co-chair of the Coastal Communities Social Procurement Initiative, Michael Murr from the Centre for Social Enterprise Development, and Eduardo Gomez from the City of Calgary highlighted the importance of collaboration, community-driven approaches, common language, and supplier outreach as important ingredients for creating community impact.

The Myths and Facts panel got to the bottom of some common questions and perceptions around social procurement. Tim Coldwell President of Chandos Construction, Darcy Penner from the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, and Sandra Charles from Public Service and Procurement Canada brought their tried-and-true experience to the discussion:

  • Social procurement doesn’t need to cost more, in fact there can be HUGE savings when we address the root of community issues
  • Evolving understanding of “best value” – social procurement ADDS value
  • Engagement and co-creation is KEY. Test and learn together with the players and suppliers in the ecosystem.

Infrastructure and construction projects are a leading sector for social procurement, Kumsa Baker from Toronto Community Benefits Network, Julie Forrester from Pillar Nonprofit Network and the London Children’s Museum, and Matt Osler from the City of Surrey discussed how social procurement is key for Building Back Better.

The day concluded with a celebration of the Social Procurement Champion Awards. Each winner is contributing to the social procurement representing three categories: demand, supply, and community.

Congratulations to the 2021 Social Procurement Champions

Municipal purchaser – City of Calgary

Community advocates – LeBreton Flats Community Benefit Coalition

Construction social enterprises – Impact Construction, BUILD, Building Up and Embers

Each of the session’s recording is available on our YouTube channel, so please watch and enjoy as we work together to shape social procurement today and tomorrow.

Thank you to all of the speakers, our sponsors SAP, Chandos Construction and S4ES and to all of the participants. For joining us on this social procurement journey and shaping a fantastic Symposium.

Symposium Feedback

“Those are the stories that make a difference, the reason we do what we do! thank you for sharing”

“I attended the symposium yesterday and found it very informative to hear others perspective on social procurement.  Thank you for the opportunity.’

“I found [the construction social enterprise award] discussion to be a really engaging, accessible, and a great grounding experience. And so much passion! Certainly, deserving of their accolades and an excellent way to close the event. High compliments to you all for a nicely curated program.”

“I attended the Buy Social symposium yesterday and wanted to send a quick note to let you know that I really enjoyed all the discussions! I’m sure it was lots of planning and preparation, and it all paid off. Thanks for organizing such a great event!”

“What an amazing three days it’s been, thank you for two engaging, enlightening and exciting events (both the Buy Social Canada Symposium and SEWF Policy Forum)! Canada is well placed to be a leader on social procurement thanks to your leadership. Well done.”

“Thank you for hosting an excellent symposium. It was a pleasure to meet my fellow panelists and hear their exciting stories and I look forward to following their advancements. “

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