In Rob Wright's presentation, he said things are working pretty well, that we have this vehicle that was brought in by the Liberal government, by the former mayor of Sudbury. He brought in this tool, the procurement strategy for aboriginal business, and it was consistent with what we've been doing in other areas of the country. We created tax zones for regionally challenged areas like Cape Breton. Then we moved away from the tax system a bit as an economic development tool, and we started creating these agencies. We created FedNor, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and so forth.
This procurement strategy was along the same lines, but it was focused in on federal procurement. It was supposed to be that where a contract was directed, or the benefits of a contract were supposed to go to indigenous communities, it was mandatory to use that PSAB requirement. Beyond that, it was voluntary for other departments. We created a bureaucratic system in order to promote it. I think there are four to six people who work for that outfit out there. They track results, or they claim to track results. It's usually really about three-year-old data they track. It's like the employment equity we report on. There's always this patting on the back that we're doing so well, but actually based on the overall numbers, they are doing half as well.
If you took the percentage of the indigenous population as a percentage of the Canadian population, you have 4% or 4.5%. In our procurement stuff, which, as the Government of Canada, we control, we're looking at about 2%. We're doing about half.
When I came to the committee last time, I talked about all this work going on on Parliament Hill, and the opportunities to indenture so many indigenous Canadians in the trades. We've struggled in the trades area, and we're not there in the percentage we should be. Since then, we have EllisDon and PCL that have the construction contract for Parliament Hill. It's going to be a six-year project. We're going to have the Supreme Court coming, which is another $2-billion project. We've just seen the results of West Block. You come to West Block at lunchtime, and there are all those guys streaming out of there, but there are no indigenous people working there. We have this opportunity to create all of these masons, etc.
You have a situation where the contracts awarded now on Parliament Hill.... We had this in Manitoba. Manitoba pre-qualified on the hydro project. We had a $7-billion project from hydro. They pre-qualified five companies. We went to Manitoba Hydro and said, “None of them are required to do anything for indigenous people.”
We then did what we have done at the federal level before. We put in a minimum indigenous participation requirement. In the case of Manitoba, it was 15%. All five of the pre-qualified bidders had to come to the Métis and the first nations in Manitoba and figure out how they could get 15% of the overall value going to the indigenous population, either through jobs or subcontracts. Then Manitoba Hydro would hold their feet to the fire in the contract process, and put penalties in if they didn't meet those requirements.
It worked, and we have just done the same thing with Enbridge on Line 3 in Manitoba. Enbridge, to their credit, have done it across the board on Line 3. They have all of these pre-project commitments to indigenous people, and they put it in there. In fact, in the oil and gas industry, it's standard practice now, but in the construction industry in Canada, it's not. You have the big guys—PCL, EllisDon, and all these guys. There's no corporate requirement for them to do anything, and they don't have the indigenous component, maybe because much of the business is from Ontario and Quebec.
We have an opportunity to use the federal spend to drill out indigenous benefits. It can be done by putting these minimum requirements in. It's important that it be in the minimum requirements, because sometimes the stuff is really special.
I'll give you an example. In the Olympics, we tried to get the Olympic committee to put some minimum requirements on or to put a set-aside. Then it came to hockey pucks. There's only one company that makes hockey pucks and it's in Czechoslovakia, so it doesn't fit. It's same whether we're building ships or fighter jets. But those companies buy other stuff, and they have other business lines. Even if we put the minimum requirement on, they could at least lease the real estate, buy the supplies, etc. There's a way to do it.
Every time we've introduced this concept to big companies, there's an initial push-back, but then after they say, yes, they can do it because they are not self-performing all of it.
I'm going to let Brian speak. I spoke too long, but Brian is going to talk a little bit about—