Thursday at the Union of BC Municipalities’ annual convention, Cumberland was recognized for its innovative leadership, as it was officially certified as Canada’s first Buy Social municipality.
“My congratulations to Cumberland on becoming the first municipality in B.C. to adopt Social Purchasing. Earlier this year, the Ministry adopted social impact purchasing guidelines to ensure that staff consider social value, in addition to financial value, when they buy goods and services. Governments invest in social programs that improve life in our communities. Our purchasing dollars can also make a difference and it’s wonderful to see Cumberland take this step,” said Minister Stilwell, B.C. Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. Stilwell also thanked Comox Valley MLA Don McRae, for leading the initial development of the Provincial Social Impact Purchasing Guidelines, during his time as Minister.
Buy Social Canada is an internationally recognized third-party program that certifies organizations and municipal partners who have demonstrated a commitment to the Buy Social principles and are proactively working to ensure that procurement works to add, rather than diminish, social value in society.
Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird said that the social procurement framework received unanimous support from all members of council.
“The Social Procurement Framework ensures that we still access goods and services through a competitive and transparent bidding process, but we are now being a lot more strategic and proactive in procurement. Staff will leverage existing spending to achieve desirable community goals, while working in alignment with community values and maximizing returns for taxpayers,” said Mayor Baird.
The mayor added that the decision was quite simple after hearing about the concept from consultant and area resident Sandra Hamilton, the former business manager to John Furlong. Hamilton, accompanied by Cumberland Councillor Jesse Ketler, spoke at the Union of BC Municipalities Conference on the topic of Social Procurement and Economic Development.
“Sustainability at VANOC meant doing the right thing” said Hamilton. Over the last 30 years the environmental movement has done an excellent job of educating and increasing awareness surrounding the importance of developing more sustainable practices. This has led to considerable changes in behaviours and societal norms. Environmental considerations in government procurement have now become normalized. Everyday we see certifications, like LEED, Fair Trade, Organic and others.
“Social procurement knowledge is a tremendous legacy of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games, and is already required by law in countries all across Europe; it is a more strategic approach to government procurement that works to better leverage every tax dollar for added social value and community benefit. We now know that changing the language and structure of a contract, quite literally has the power to change lives. Procurement can be a powerful force for good in society” said Hamilton.
Buy Social Canada, affiliated with Buy Social UK, was launched in the spring of 2015. Buy Social Canada is working with partners across the country to certify social enterprise suppliers and promote social purchasing in the private sector and across government. Buy Social Canada offers certification and program services for social enterprise suppliers and social purpose purchasing entities. For more information: www.buysocialcanada.ca.