Interested In Doing Business With The Ontario Government?
Want to sell your goods and services to Ontario government ministries and agencies? This brochure will show you how.
The Ontario Government spends more than $6 billion a year on goods and services. We work with more than 50,000 vendors of all sizes and types annually and we welcome new vendors to do business with us.
Our principles and policies
- Under trade agreements signed by the Ontario government, contracts must be advertised openly for goods valued at $25,000 or more and for services and construction valued at $100,000 and more.
- Ministries are not required to openly advertise the purchase of goods under $25,000 or services or construction valued under $100,000. Instead, they may use an invitational process to solicit bids.
- Qualified vendors from across the province are welcome to compete for government business.
The process is conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner where all vendors are treated equally.
- By acquiring goods and services in an effective, efficient, economical and ethical manner, we aim to achieve the best value for the money we spend.
- Ministries and suppliers must comply with all relevant accessibility standards and regulations. Visit here for information about the Ontario Public Service Accessibility laws and standards.
- There are exceptions to normal procurement rules, such as an emergency or when only one supplier can meet a specialized need. There are also exemptions for certain defined goods and services. Otherwise normal rules apply.
Certain procurements may require successful bidders to undergo contractor security screening. Review the rules and forms carefully.
- Electronic tendering is the government’s preferred method of soliciting bids for goods valued at $25,000 or more and services and construction valued at $100,000 or more.
- These bids are announced on the Ontario Tenders Portal (OTP), an internet-based electronic tendering service provider that enables registered vendors to get free access and to bid online for government procurement opportunities.
- Respondents are kept informed through the OTP of any changes affecting documents downloaded. This includes addenda arising from questions and answers.
- For more information about or to register with the OTP, visit the website or call toll free: 1-866-722-7390.
- Ministries must post an Advance Contract Award Notice electronically for all non-competitive procurements for goods and services with a contract value of $560,000 or more and for construction projects worth $7.8 million or more.
- Ministries may also advertise a procurement opportunity in a national newspaper or local papers. Construction projects may be posted in The Daily Commercial News. The Ministry of Transportation uses the Registry, Appraisal and Qualification System (RAQS) to advertise large capital construction acquisitions.
How to respond to a Request for Bids
- The Ontario government issues a Request for Bids (RFB) to procure the goods and services it needs. Agreements are then established with a particular vendor. Furthermore, there may be a Vendor of Record (VOR) arrangement which authorizes multiple vendors to provide ministries with goods or services for a defined time period under specific terms, conditions and pricing. The evaluation criteria used in the selection of a vendor are based on price alone or on price and other factors.
- The procurement documents explain how to lay out your bid and how it will be evaluated. They state which requirements are mandatory and which are desirable and set out the weighting of the areas to be scored, such as past experience or product performance.
- Bidders are informed when bid requirements change.
- Do not assume that because you have dealt with the government or a particular client ministry previously that it knows your organization and skills. Each bid is unique, and will be evaluated solely on its content.
- Increase your chances of success by following the instructions and reviewing all terms and conditions contained in the document.
Describe how you would do the work
- Provide a detailed response to each evaluation requirement to show you understand and can meet it. Describe how you would do the work if you win the contract.
- Mandatory eligibility requirements are evaluated on a pass/fail basis. You must meet them all for a bid to be considered compliant and evaluated further.
- You may be asked for your perspective on the current state and the need for the project, the objectives and benefits of the proposed work and the reasons for carrying it out as proposed. This is your opportunity to describe and substantiate your proposed work plan, methodology and techniques. Make your proposal stand out!
- Identify any problems you anticipate during the project along with contingency plans in case problems arise.
- When asked to identify specific tasks and deliverables and the schedule for completion or delivery, describe how many people will be assigned to the various tasks, their level and title and how many hours or days they will work. Do not include pricing information in this section.
Introduce your team
- Tell us why they're the best people for the job. Describe each team member and which part of the contract they'll work on along with their education and experience. Provide the same information for any subcontractor or sub-consultant involved in the project.
Explain your quote
- This section requires a detailed breakdown of the quoted price. The procurement document details which costs will be considered in the financial evaluation. No other costs will be considered.
- Once you have fully described how you will meet the ministry’s goals and objectives, check them against the priorities and requirements spelled out in the procurement document.
- If you develop an alternative solution to the problem described in the procurement document and would like to propose it, you should respond to the specific request made in the procurement document first. Offer another solution only if the ministry has indicated it will consider alternatives.
Once you’ve completed your proposal
When in doubt, ask questions of the designated contact within the allowable period for questions and answers.
Have others within your organization review your response to ensure it is accurate and the information provided is complete.
- Place your logo or company name on each page.
- Sign the bid document and attach it to make your proposal legally binding.
- Adhere to the timelines provided, including the timeline for posing questions and for filing the completed response.
If you have a question or require clarification, contact the designated person noted in the procurement document. Do not ask questions of your other government contacts as this could jeopardize your eligibility.
Ask questions early as they must be received within a specified timeframe prior to the closing date.
- Please note, we can only evaluate the information you provide. Be sure to address each point with sufficient technical and management information.
- While the government may ask you to clarify your bid after the tender has closed, a bid containing incorrect or missing information will be rejected.
- The ministry compiles all questions and answers in an addendum provided to each supplier requesting a copy of the tender document to ensure every vendor has the same information prior to bidding.
- When you receive a notification by e-mail, be sure to download and review all the details.
What will happen after the bid submission?
Who evaluates my bid?
Responses are usually evaluated by a team of ministry staff, which could include procurement officers and potential users of the goods and services required. Contract awards are reviewed and approved by one or more senior officers depending on the ministry.
How will I know if my bid is successful?
- Successful bidder(s) will be notified to execute the contract award.
- Award notifications are published in the same manner they were advertised and using the same medium as original request, such as the Ontario Tenders Portal.
The name of the successful bidder, the term of the contract and the total bid price can be provided upon request. To protect vendor confidentiality, no further vendor information will be disclosed. Additional information may be available through a Freedom of Information request in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), R.S.O. 1990.
Watch for the publication of the contract award
The government must clearly specify the selection factors, such as lowest price or best value, used to evaluate bids and determine the winner. All unsuccessful bidders in procurements valued at $25,000 or more are offered a de-briefing to explain why their bid was not successful.
A successful vendor requires a contract for all procurements. Typically the contract sets out responsibilities of the vendor and the purchaser. Contracts also describe how the vendor’s performance will be evaluated and include a termination clause.
How do vendors receive payment?
- Vendors to the Ontario government are typically paid according to the contract's terms or after the invoice is received, whichever is later.
- For purchases under $5,000, designated government employees are given an Ontario Government Purchasing Card (a credit card issued in the employee's name) to purchase goods and services from authorized government employees, either in person or over the phone.
- Cards are embossed with the employee name, ministry name and expiry date.
- They are restricted to particular merchant category codes, dollar limits per transaction and monthly credit/transaction limits.
- Vendors who accept the Ontario Government Purchasing Card can expect to receive prompt payment from the government.
- Travel and travel-related expenses are not included.
Resolving bid disputes
- If you have any concerns about the procurement documents, contact the contracting officer identified in the document prior to the closing date. Most issues can be addressed.
- If your bid is not successful, you will be invited to meet with the contracting officer to discuss it. The officer will tell you who won, how your response ranked relative to other respondents, it strengths and weaknesses and how to improve future bids.
- If you are not satisfied after talking to the contracting officer, contact the manager or director responsible for the particular procurement opportunity.
- If you are not satisfied with the Ministry’s response, you may file a complaint and Supply Chain Ontario will address the issue through a central review process.
- All complaints will receive a formal review and vendors will be provided with a formal response. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the review, there may be other avenues open to you.
Vendor of Record (VOR) Arrangement
Who establishes them?
Like any other major procurement opportunity, Vendor of Record (VOR) arrangements are established through Requests for Bids (RFB) posted on the Ontario Tenders Portal, and followed by a transparent and competitive procurement process.
A VOR arrangement authorizes one or more vendors to offer ministries specific goods or services for a defined time period under specific terms, conditions and pricing.
VOR arrangements allow ministries to obtain commonly-procured goods and services in a shorter time frame than if they had to initiate the procurement process from scratch.
Types of VOR arrangements
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Supply Chain Ontario may establish VOR arrangements used by all ministries:
- Enterprise-wide VOR arrangements reduce procurement costs by providing ministries with access to one or more contracted vendors of goods and services common to more than one ministry. Provincially funded organizations have access to certain enterprise-wide VORs to facilitate select procurements and benefit from the negotiated price.
- Multi-ministry VOR arrangements are established when more than one ministry requires a particular good/service but there is insufficient demand for an enterprise-wide arrangement.
- Ministry specific VOR arrangements are established by individual ministries for their exclusive use.
How does my company qualify for a VOR arrangement?
Bidders who successfully meet all RFB requirements are awarded VOR status and sign a Master Agreement with the ministry that issued the RFB.
The Vendor of Record Program – Three-Year Outlook provides vendors with advance notice of upcoming enterprise-wide VOR arrangements by category, planned posting date, start date and client users. Find it in the Doing Business with Ontario website.
Once I qualify for a VOR, do I have to compete again for contract work?
For a VOR arrangement with multiple vendors, a second selection process is required to ensure buyers obtain the best value for money. If you are a vendor on such a VOR arrangement, you should continue to market your company’s abilities to individual ministries and agencies.
If the estimated procurement value is below $25,000, the ministry may use the VOR arrangement to select one vendor or ask more than one vendor to bid on the specific project/assignment under the specified terms and conditions.
For procurements valued between $25,000 and $249,999, three or more vendors must be invited to bid. For assignments between $250,000 and $599,999, five or more vendors must be invited to bid. For assignments of $600,000 up to the VOR ceiling price, all eligible vendors must be invited to bid.
Other types of procurement
Procurement of Information Technology (IT)
The Management and Use of Information & Information Technology Directive governs how the Ontario government procures Information Technology. Architecture design and standards have been established to procure hardware and software. Ministries may procure commercial off-the-shelf software and related services, custom software, open source software and maintenance and support.
Items not included under the IT Directive
Individual ministries procure their own electronic equipment to process or communicate information. These include:
- audio visual equipment.
- medical and scientific devices.
- laboratory instrument monitoring systems.
- sensing devices, e.g. thermostats.
- diagnostic tools.
- process-control systems e.g. traffic lights.
- general IT supplies such as removable storage.
Ministries use external consultants only when it is not possible to use their own staff.
Ontario buys a variety of consulting services. Here are some examples:
- Management consulting - helping management improve their performance through analyzing existing problems and developing plans for improvement
- Information technology - consulting on IT advisory services and strategies.
- Technical consulting - services related to actuarial science, appraisal, community planning, engineering, health sciences, interior design, realty and social sciences.
- Research and development - investigative studies to increase knowledge and/or information on a particular subject.
- Policy consulting - providing policy options, analysis and evaluation.
- Communications - providing strategy and advice to convey information through various channels and media.
How does the buying process work?
Ministries may use an invitational competitive procurement process for services valued under $100,000. Under this process, at least three qualified vendors are invited to submit a written proposal in response to the ministry’s written requirements.
Ministries must use an open competitive procurement process for consulting services valued at more than $100,000. Assignments for consulting services must have a start and end date.
Do you ever hire more than one consultant for a project?
Yes. A large or complex project may be divided into several smaller parts. Specifications for each part are provided in the individual tendering documents.
A ministry or agency may also decide to hold a competition for part of a larger project. If the contract includes options for successive stages, the successful vendor may be awarded more parts of the same project without further competition.
How will I be paid? Can the price change after the agreement is signed?
Fees are established in advance and are based on the contract's terms and conditions. Ministries do not calculate fees based on the results of a consultant’s work (i.e. a percentage of savings achieved through the introduction of a recommended system). In general, the ceiling price stated in the agreement cannot be exceeded.
The terms and conditions affecting the price of a contract may change after the consultant’s work has started. This is allowed, as long as the procedure for changing the original terms and conditions are followed.
Consultants will not be paid for any hospitality, food or incidental expenses.
How to market yourself to the Ontario Government
Consider marketing your goods and/or services directly to government ministries to create awareness for your business and ensure you're invited to participate in future procurement opportunities.
Come to Supply Ontario, our annual reverse trade show, where you can meet ministry staff and learn about their buying needs.
Another way to learn more about ministries’ buying needs is by visiting ministry websites to review their Ministry Mandate Letters, business plans, budget cycles, press releases and other relevant documents. You may also want to review Ontario government’s Provincial Budget and Throne Speech.
You can also start marketing your goods/services by contacting the appropriate individuals in the ministry of your choice. This will require some effort on your part to research and find the appropriate contacts.
To help you identifying appropriate contacts, you can search INFO-GO, the government's online directory.
Once on INFO-GO, you can search by employee name or organization, and also find a breakdown for each ministry. You can search contacts by using the following methods:
- Search by name (e.g. Smith or Smith, John), job title (e.g. Director) or telephone number (e.g. 416-123-4567).
- Search by services and offices. Procurement staff are often found under the Financial or Corporate Services branch of each ministry or agency.
- Use key words to search one or more ministries. Use the telephone directory listing to contact the individual(s) you deem appropriate.
If you need more information or have questions, email to us: