When you talk about “budget season” in government, most people think about the early spring. In March and April, finance ministers stand in legislatures across Canada to present their spending plans for the fiscal year ahead.
But based on my years working inside government, I can tell you the truth is that actually fall is the key time when thousands of public servants are feeding in proposals and plans for consideration in the upcoming budget.
Every year CCI develops a pre-budget submission with our own policy recommendations for government to consider. You can read the full document below, which contains eight key recommendations for the 2024 budget.
For today, though, I’d like to focus on our top recommendations, focused on government procurement.
The fact of the matter is that a contract with government is more valuable to a high-growth technology company than any economic development grant. Having the government as a customer is seen as a major validator in the marketplace, and it can start a flywheel of future sales and growth.
The provincial government has a mandate to drive economic development, and by far the most potent tool in their toolbox is procurement. If used strategically, it can be an enormous wind at the back of homegrown Ontario scale-up technology companies.
So, how can we improve government procurement? We’re calling on the Ontario government to do three things:
Create a procurement concierge service, which would collaborate with local Ontario innovators, and help guide them through the procurement process. Ontario could model this on a similar program introduced recently in B.C.
Implement an innovation pathway, starting in the health care sector, to stimulate a responsive and integrated funding approach for innovators across the province.
The truth is that the Ontario government has already been taking positive steps on government procurement. The Building Ontario Business Initiative is a major step in the right direction. What’s more, Supply Ontario is set up to be a one-stop-shop for procurement reform, and the 2024 budget should further empower them to keep up the momentum.
Of course, there’s more than just procurement reform to drive innovation. CCI’s budget submission has more information on these proposals and also ideas for how to fuel growth with access to innovation capital, policies which can help address the skilled talent shortage, and broader ideas for driving success in the digital economy.