Adding the Government of Canada to your list of customers

As the pandemic continues, many businesses, especially small companies, have borne the brunt of public health restrictions that have limited their ability to operate profitably. After months of sliver-thin profits (or none at all) many small businesses are struggling to find new customers and new sources of revenue.

One potential source: The Government of Canada.

If most of your dealings with the federal government involve giving the Canada Revenue Agency your money, turn the tables by securing a contract to sell your goods or services to the government – an organization that spends about $200 billion each year on public procurement.

How can you tap into it? Of course, government being government, there’s a process. But it may not be as arduous as you think.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is responsible for most of the buying on behalf of other government departments, whether they’re purchasing rubber bands or buying buildings. (Note: certain types of purchases are managed by the departments that have the expertise, and all departments may buy goods and services themselves if they’re below certain dollar limits.)

How does it work?

Most opportunities for contracts are published on the tendering service at This includes all contract opportunities for goods over $25,000, services over $84,000 and construction over $100,000, which must be advertised on the tender service.

You can search the website for opportunities to sell, find out which buyers are interested in what you supply and learn the evaluation criteria you’ll need to provide if you submit a bid.

You can also search the site for opportunities to subcontract or partner with other suppliers. When the government has large or specific requirements, they may have standing offers with prequalified firms, and those suppliers may be looking for subcontractors.

In a nutshell, here’s how to sell to the federal government:

  • Express your interest in a tender. Every tender notice includes a list of interested suppliers. Get on it. You can see who’s on the list, so use it to also gain insight into other bidders – who may be potential partners.
  • Register to become a supplier. First you’ll need a business number from Canada Revenue Agency. Then, register in the Supplier Registration Information system to get a procurement business number, which will be your unique identifier to sell to the federal government.
  • Pre-qualify. Sellers who get pre-qualified can sell to the government on a regular basis. You can be part of a standing offer or supply arrangements, which are agreements that outline the terms and conditions that will apply to future requirements for good and serves to be ordered on an as-needed basis.
  • Do your bidding – correctly. Every tender is unique, so learn the evaluation criteria, make sure you can meet the requirements and make it easy for buyers to evaluate your bid. Requirements can range from providing short and simple details to outlining pages and pages of technical and financial information. Know what’s expected of your bid.
  • Learn from the process. Whether you win the contract or not, you can request a supplier debriefing after the contract has been awarded. That feedback will help you improve your bid next time.

Visit the procurement website to learn more about selling to the Government of Canada, as well as how to sell to other Canadian and foreign governments. The site includes information about free seminars for businesses, lets you connect with the people who can answer your specific questions and provides practically everything you need to know to get started on new opportunities and with a huge new client.


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