Madam Speaker, I have the pleasure to respond to the member for Gatineau. I am very happy that he asked for an adjournment debate on this issue.
The Government of Canada has a fair, open and transparent procurement system that enables it to receive bids for most contracts over $25,000.
All companies, no matter where they are located, have equal access to government contracts. Most government procurement is subject to a competitive process. Over a period of five years, from 2003-04 to 2007-08, approximately 80% of all contracts awarded by PWGSC were awarded through a competitive process.
In 2005, PWGSC created the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises to help the Government of Canada respect its commitment to provide a procurement system that is accessible to SMEs all over Canada.
The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises and its six regional offices are mandated to support these businesses to help them access Government of Canada contracts.
From 2007-08 to 2008-09, the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises in the national capital region was involved in more than 100 activities and information sessions, which were attended by businesses located in Gatineau and Ottawa. The OSME has helped over 7,000 people and local suppliers in the region.
As regards our participation in the business strategy of Gatineau's stakeholders, the executive director of the Gatineau chamber of commerce, Karl Lavoie, said he was pleased with it, and he even added that the office was a step in the right direction.
On May 12, 2009, PWGSC opened a staffed service centre in Gatineau to better serve the region's small and medium businesses. I was pleased to hear that the hon. member for Gatineau has already visited this office. The new centre, which is located in the heart of Gatineau, is a one-stop shop for SMEs interested in dealing with the federal government.
On April 2, 2009, Développement économique Gatineau announced a strategy to help SMEs access federal government contracts.
This strategy includes the participation of the OSME. I am also pleased to mention that officials from the OSME were present when the announcement was made.
In 2007-08, the department bought goods and services for a value of over $4.8 billion, from Canada's SMEs. This accounts for 49% of the total value of procurements by the departments from businesses located in Canada.
Recently, questions were raised regarding the number of contracts awarded by PWGSC to businesses from Gatineau and Ottawa. At first, I was surprised by the figures. However, these figures should be interpreted carefully, because they do not reflect the true reality.
For example, some businesses have their head office in Ottawa, but they create jobs elsewhere. Moreover, many Quebeckers work in Ottawa, and conversely. Our procurement process is not at all discriminatory.
It is important to note that PWGSC does business with Canadian suppliers, and not with the regions. In this regard, we were pleased to cooperate with those businesses that put in a bid, and we are going to do the same in other regions of Canada.