Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's extremely interesting to see the relationships that exist between goals.
You represent an association, SMEs or a particular sector.
The purpose of a business is of course to generate profit. There are major advantages to dealing with government, since you are sure to recover the money you spent, you are sure to get paid, and you establish a relationship. There is without a doubt something to be gained. So businesses incur less risk when they engage with government. As you mentioned, what is difficult is to initiate that business relationship with a government.
Since I have worked at the municipal level in the past, I can say this: the responsibility for contracts and decisions—whether at the municipal, provincial or federal level—is entirely shouldered by that government. Consequently, where decision making is concerned, the risk is not financial, but involves relationships and reputation.
There is one obvious current example. Indeed, dear colleagues, the elephant is in the room; it's the Phoenix pay system. We talk about it every day, and who is accountable? It is the government. Members in every party in the House in fact make it their business to point that out.
How can we integrate small and medium businesses into procurement? The government's social mission is to try to help enterprises. It has to do business with small and medium enterprises to ensure that wealth is distributed throughout Canada, and that enterprises can do business with the government.
Should the bids be smaller? Perhaps. Should we ask that one contract stratum be allocated to those small businesses? We would need to set a goal of a certain percentage of contracts, and ensure that we reach the objectives. Unfortunately, I think it is an illusion to think that we will never again see 200-page bids, but they could be divided up.
As I already mentioned, when I worked in municipal government, we asked people to not divide up a contract, because that was against the law. All of these things are interconnected, and you have to protect everybody.
How can we find solutions and make sure everyone is happy? My preamble was long, but I'm asking you to try to answer it. There are two minutes left.