previous blog post introduced the concept of trade agreements
and summarized some of their general principles. This post starts
to look at the various existing agreements that apply across
New West Partnership Trade Agreement
Starting in the west, the New West Partnership Trade Agreement
(NWPTA) applies to public sector entities in British Columbia,
Alberta and Saskatchewan. The NWPTA applies widely – first to
the provinces themselves, including all ministries, second to Crown
corporations and government owned commercial enterprises and third
to municipal governments, school boards and health and social
service entities (this third category is known as the MASH
As with all trade agreements, the NWPTA contains thresholds to
avoid the need to apply the strict procurement rules to
smaller purchases. The thresholds are low for the provinces
themselves – $10,000 for goods, $75,000 for services and
$100,000 for construction – and increase for Crown
corporations and are higher again for the MASH sector.
The NWPTA contains a range of specific items that are exempt
from the procurement rules, the most important of which are:
procurement from philanthropic institutions, prisons or persons
procurement from a public body or non-profit organization
health services and social services
where it can be demonstrated that only one supplier is able to
meet the requirements
where an unforeseeable situation of emergency exists and the
goods, services or construction could not be obtained in time by
means of open procurement procedures
where the acquisition is of a confidential or privileged nature
and disclosure could reasonably be expected to compromise
government confidentiality, cause economic disruption or be
contrary to the public interest
services provided by lawyers or notaries
the absence of a receipt of any bids in response to a call for
There is a three-step dispute resolution process in the
Use of all reasonable means to resolve the dispute
– so, if a government body has an internal complaints
process, that process must be exhausted before moving on.
Consultations between the relevant provinces –
these may be triggered by a supplier who considers that the
procurement rules have been breached.
Reference to an impartial panel which will make a binding
Complaints must be brought within two years from when the person
first knew, or ought to have known, about the breach. If a person
considers that a complaint may be valid under NWPTA or under the
AIT, it must choose which process to use and, once a choice is
made, there is no recourse under the other agreement.
The provinces remain in discussions on establishing an effective
bid dispute mechanism that may result in the award of damages in
favour of bidders.
The next post will look at the Agreement on Internal Trade.
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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