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Marion Soubliere

Winning Contracts With the Government of Canada

Copyright: magurok / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: magurok / 123RF Stock Photo

The federal government spends between $15 billion and $20 billion annually on goods and services, including editing and writing. Communication skills are in high demand. The government’s massive web renewal project faces much work ahead in streamlining 1,500 websites into one overarching website,

Small businesses across Canada, including solopreneurs, can contract directly to this lucrative and stable market. To make the feds one of your clients, put these tasks on your to-do list.

  1. Take free webinars and seminars. Get tips on supplying professional services, writing proposals and more from the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises. Check the events calendar at, the procurement portal for suppliers and federal buyers.
  2. Register in the Supplier Registration Information databaseThis gives you your Procurement Business Number, essential for getting paid.
  3. Apply to get registered on the ProServices supply arrangement. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has asked departments to use this government-wide tool for many professional services contracts worth up to $86,900. ProServices covers 150 job roles and is great for small businesses. That’s because, unlike other government-wide buying tools, no proof of revenues is required when applying.

The supplier list is refreshed every quarter, giving new firms a chance to apply. To do so, download the solicitation document (it’s the latest file under “Solicitation Documents”).

  1. Apply for security clearance for your company and staff. All contractors must now have organizational security clearance as well as personnel security clearance. This means that independent professionals must operate as a business. Usually, that is as a sole proprietorship or corporation.

Another good reason to get on ProServices is that it is one of the few ways to get organizational and personnel security clearance. PSPC will sponsor your firm, even if you don’t have a government contract in place. The other option relates to bidding on tenders (see more about bidding below). In this case, you can ask in your proposal that the federal buyer sponsor you for clearance, should your bid be selected. Contact PSPC’s Contract Security Program for more details.

  1. Subcontract. Working for a company that already has a federal contract gives you experience if you lack it. Search here for departmental contracts awarded over $10,000.
  2. Get on source lists. These are list of preferred suppliers for contracts under $25,000. To ask to be placed on such lists, approach departments that match your expertise. Phone materiel managers, or email editorial services or web renewal managers. Find contact information in the departmental section of Government Electronic Directory Services.
  3. Bid on tenders. Higher-value tenders are posted on These are mainly for goods but occasionally for services.
  4. Market yourself, always. This is critical. If your firm gets registered on ProServices, post details on your LinkedIn profile and company page, your website, your Online Directory of Editors profile — any online profile. Contribute to social media networks so that others spot your expertise. The federal government is increasingly active on social media.


Still have procurement questions? Comment below and I’ll do my best to help. For more about contracting to the Government of Canada, see “How to Land a Federal Contract, Even as a Solopreneur,” in the November 2014 issue of Flourish magazine


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3 Comments on “Winning Contracts With the Government of Canada”

  • Frances Peck


    This is really valuable information, Marion. Are you finding that federal departments increasingly want to pay by credit card, especially for smaller projects (under $5,000)? In your view, is it worth the cost for editors to set themselves up to take credit card payments? Do you accept credit cards yourself?

    • Thanks kindly, Frances!

      Your question about credit cards is a really good one because it reflects a recent government change. Departments can now use acquisition cards (credit card payments) to buy low-risk goods and services up to $10,000, including GST/ HST. The limit used to be $5,000. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is working to modernize procurement and, as part of that, is making numerous changes in preparation for an e-commerce environment. (More on that shortly.)

      I haven’t set myself up yet to accept credit cards but that’s only because my contracts still tend to be over $10,000. It is worthwhile, though, for editors to consider doing so because these acquisition cards will be used increasingly. PayPal ( offers a free service to businesses that lets them add code to their websites in order to accept credit card payments along with PayPal payments.

      Now, back to that e-commerce environment. A major change that PSPC is spearheading is a new third-party electronic tendering site to replace within a few years. PSPC has said that they want to create an experience with this new web portal, making low-dollar buys much simpler and quicker. There will be e-catalogues of services and goods, suppliers will maintain profiles that government buyers can check out, buyers will post reviews of suppliers on an internal section of the site (like Yelp for government suppliers), and more. Many of these changes are required in order to comply with the new Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

      Another encouraging change is that this new e-procurement site will be used not only by the federal government but by Canadian provincial, territorial and municipal governments, Canadian aid agencies, Canadian public health organizations, intergovernmental organizations and foreign governments. Again, this is being done to comply with the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

      • Frances Peck


        What a great update, Marion. And thanks for the tip about the PayPal service. That sounds like a much better option than paying a bank a monthly amount (around $50, to my knowledge, plus startup costs) to be able to accept credit cards.

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