Given the consulting engineering industry is at the front end of the construction continuum, and has received more work from the infrastructure stimulus package to-date than many other construction-related industries, our firms are essentially the government’s testing ground to get Community Benefits right.
This newly introduced selection criterion has generated a lot of buzz in the consulting engineering industry right now. Some firms love it and are using it as an opportunity to staff up, or at a minimum compete successfully for work with their current local teams to sustain their firms for the medium term. Others are struggling to put together a fulsome “local labour” team to win competitions because while a significant portion of their firms is local, their business models have historically pulled in certain types of expertise to complete Saskatchewan projects which does not fit neatly into the current Community Benefits requirements.
We know that Community Benefits are here to stay. Putting our efforts into eliminating them will be wasted. However, whether you love or hate this new government selection criterion, there are still areas where ACEC-SK can intervene on this industry’s behalf to facilitate business process improvement. For instance:
- There are times when specific types of expertise are simply not resident in Saskatchewan because certain types of projects have not occurred frequently enough here to develop a pool of talent to respond. Or if certain types of expertise are resident, they sometimes are only in a very limited capacity, which sets up similar restrictions for industry. In these instances, our position is that it is not only appropriate, but necessary, to access a talent pool from outside of this jurisdiction. There needs to be consideration within the Community Benefits requirements to accommodate these instances.
- Because SaskBuilds cannot dictate to other government entities how each one implements Community Benefits, we are observing significant inconsistency across government with respect to the application of penalties. We have had preliminary discussions with SaskBuilds representatives about this, and we understand they will be looking at how to introduce greater consistency through the writ period. ACEC-SK is looking forward to working with them after the election to introduce improvements that are favourable to this industry.
October 5, 2020