Sure. We just finished a three-year project with Status of Women Canada that was funded specifically to help women-owned businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador get business in the natural resource sector because of the Hebron project, the White Rose extension, all of those natural resource projects, and the mining and hydroelectricity projects that we had going at the time.
As we were working through those processes, a lot of the things we discovered were the things I talked about today—the size of the bidding, that it was not debundling for small businesses, that our businesses weren't a really good fit. There were hardly any tier 1 contractors. They were usually tier 2, 3, or 4 contractors within it.
As we started to evolve that process when we talked to these major operators, the first thing they all said was.... In Newfoundland and Labrador there are benefits agreements, so for a lot of those, especially around the Hebron project, they had to have a women's' employment plan and a gender diversity strategy for procurement as well. They would come to us and say government is requiring us to do it, but government's not doing it themselves. Then the women-owned businesses were saying the same thing. They said that if you're imposing these sanctions on other people, you should be leading by example.
We did communicate some of that to the provincial government. Also, in that process we started having meetings with Memorial University. Two things happened here.
One was that as we started talking to the provincial government, we realized that the purchasing act in the province was being revised, finally. It's not in place right now, but they are working on the policies right now. There is one piece that talks about value and gender diversity in the procurement process. They also are talking about best value versus lowest price, because that's also an issue, as Mary alluded to as well. We're working with them right now to help them develop and implement those policies.
The second piece is the university attended our economic action plan forum in 2016. The president came to us and said the university is one of the biggest buyers in the province, and we think there's going to be a fit and that, like the province, there's a responsibility of the university as the largest institution to buy locally. Buying locally, of course, includes these diverse suppliers.
The main thing with the new project is that we're targeting working with the provincial government and the university and two other corporations that we're in the process of identifying right now as a good fit for us. We're starting with how we can help them as a service provider, because like Mary, we've been working on supplier diversity policies since 2009.
We recognize that this is not a quick fix. This is not something that is going to happen right away. There are a lot of constraints in Newfoundland and Labrador, and of course the Atlantic accord and all these things come into play. Federally, of course, you have your trade agreements and all these different layers, so how can we as an organization with our expertise help bring these things in that are easy to do, lower cost, best value, and really stimulate the local economy?