Canada: Lower Thresholds For Public Contracts: Take A Number With The AMF!

Last Updated: November 19 2013
Article by Heenan Blaikie

The Government of Quebec has adopted new Orders in Council1 lowering the threshold for which enterprises are required to obtain an authorization from the Autorité des marchés financiers (the "AMF") pursuant to an Act Respecting Contracting by Public Bodies (the "Act") in order to enter into certain contracts and subcontracts with public bodies and the City of Montreal.

As of December 6, 2013, the threshold will be lowered from C$40 million to C$10 million for the following contracts with public bodies:

  • Construction or services contracts and subcontracts; and
  • Public-private partnership contracts.

Also, as of October 23, 2013, the thresholds were lowered for the following contracts and subcontracts with the City of Montreal:

  • Contracts for the construction, reconstruction, demolition, repair or renovation of roads, waterworks and sewer services that involve an expenditure equal to or greater than C$100,000; and
  • Subcontracts of the same nature directly or indirectly related to the aforementioned contracts that involve an expenditure equal to or greater than C$25,000.

As a result, all enterprises wishing to submit a bid following a call for tenders by a public body for a contract or a subcontract mentioned above, and involving an expenditure equal to or over the new threshold, must first demonstrate to the AMF that they meet the highest standards of integrity that the public is entitled to expect from a party to a public contract or subcontract. The AMF's authorization is granted following an investigation carried out in cooperation with the Unité permanente anti-corruption (Permanent Anti-corruption Unit).

The lowering of the threshold by Order in Council is in line with the Government of Quebec's ultimate goal to be implemented over the next few years, of enterprises being subject to the obligation to obtain an integrity certificate from the AMF before entering into most public contracts. Until now, the requirement under the Act to obtain an authorization from the AMF applied only to construction or services contracts or subcontracts involving an expenditure equal to or more than C$40 million; public-private partnership contracts involving such an expenditure; as well as 225 contracts on which the City of Montreal had specifically asked the government to impose such measures.

The public bodies that must require enterprises to obtain the AMF's prior authorization include Crown corporations, Quebec government departments, school boards, colleges and universities, health and social services agencies, and municipalities.

The lowering of the threshold of contracts to C$10 million will subject approximately 400 additional enterprises to the requirement to obtain the AMF's prior approval.

City of Montreal

With respect to the City of Montreal, the lowering of the threshold for some contracts and subcontracts was adopted following a request to that effect made by the City of Montreal's executive committee to the Quebec government. The City of Montreal's interim mayor, Laurent Blanchard, hoped that the adoption of the Order in Council this Fall would give enterprises enough time to obtain their authorization during the Winter, so as not to delay the contract award process in the Spring of 2014.

Since the enactment of the Act nearly a year ago, 73 of the City of Montreal's files have been submitted to the AMF. Approximately 43 enterprises doing business with the City of Montreal have been accredited, 2 have been denied and 28 others are awaiting a response from the AMF.

Processing of requests for authorization

It should be noted that the AMF's procedure for the application for authorization has recently been modified. As of November 18, 2013, enterprises must complete the AMF's forms and forward their application for authorization through clicSÉQUR2's online service.

Similarly, the application for authorization from the AMF will now be in two steps. An application form must first be submitted to the AMF by the enterprise. After having analyzed the file, an AMF agent will contact the enterprise in order to obtain disclosures concerning individuals and entities associated with the enterprise.

To this end, the AMF will send the necessary forms to the enterprise.


1.Order in Council 1049-2013, G.O.Q. II, 3117, Order in Council 1103-2013, G.O.Q. II, 4887 and Order in Council 1105-2013, G.O.Q. II, 4888.


The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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