Earlier this year Comox Valley social entrepreneur Sandra Hamilton graduated as Canada’s first social MBA.
It was Hamilton’s work with the Village of Cumberland that first inspired the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) to seek out Hamilton’s expertise.
“Amidst a severe economic downturn we wanted to explore social procurement as a new approach to economic development,” said Laurie Gaudet, procurement supervisor at RMWB and a certified public procurement professional with over 20 years experience working in the Ontario and Alberta public and private sector.
“We engaged Sandra before the fires; but now in recovery, this work is more important than ever,” said Gaudet. “This is the evolution of public sector procurement. We were making tweaks, but Sandra’s expertise has given my team the confidence to totally transform our thinking. By taking a more strategic and less transactional approach, we are now working to align procurement with the region’s priorities during recovery and beyond.”
Social procurement has been identified as a powerful tool to improve lives by stimulating inclusive economic development. The recent $120 billion federal commitment to infrastructure spending has attracted national interest in Hamilton’s work. In Ottawa Bill C-227 – Community Benefits in Infrastructure – recently passed second reading and has advanced to the standing committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Community.
Hamilton was recently invited to contribute her expertise at a Government of Canada round table on procurement; her first month in November was spent on site in Fort McMurray hosting social procurement design labs with the Construction Association, the Chamber of Commerce and local non-profit groups. Last week Hamilton worked with the Vancouver Island Construction Association to explore how public sector procurement can be better leveraged to create local jobs, improve skills development and opportunities for youth, particularly indigenous youth in the construction sector, along with other community benefits.
As an authority on the subject, the Canadian Construction Association has invited Hamilton to speak on the topic of Social Procurement at the 2017 National Conference to be held in Mexico in March. Hamilton is the author of both B.C.’s and Alberta’s first Social Procurement Frameworks; Author of Canada’s First Social Procurement Policy and the former Business Manager to Vancouver 2010 CEO John Furlong. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games were the first Olympics in history to include social criteria in the sustainability strategy.