Question Period Note: Transparency of COVID-related contracts


Reference number:
Date received:
Jun 22, 2021
Public Services and Procurement Canada
Name of Minister:
Anand, Anita (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister of Public Services and Procurement


Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is publicly disclosing, to the fullest extent possible, information on contracting related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suggested Response:

  • The Government of Canada is engaged in an unprecedented effort to ensure that front-line healthcare workers and Canadians have the supplies they need to stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • PSPC has a webpage disclosing, to the fullest extent possible, supplier names and contract values for all contracts Canada has entered into for personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment. As of March 31, 2021, this page lists information about 473 PPE and medical contracts totaling approximately $7.6B.
    • This information will be updated in the coming weeks and is also available through the proactive disclosure website
    • Looking forward, a careful balance between transparency and protecting Canada’s procurement capacity will remain important as we continue with our COVID-19 response
    • This disclosure of contracting information continues to be complemented by a web table which includes data on total quantities ordered and received for select commodities

If pressed on why contracts are not being disclosed sooner or in full:

  • The government is committed to providing Canadians, including members of this House, with as much information as possible about our efforts to respond to COVID-19
  • Given the volatility of the marketplace we need to strike the right balance between ensuring transparency while upholding the integrity of the procurement process and not jeopardizing orders or compromising Canada’s negotiating position
  • My department has posted an extensive listing of contracts issued to date
  • Transparency and accountability is critically important to the government and we are committed to releasing the fullest account possible of our procurement efforts

If pressed on the use of the National Security Exception and Access to Information Act to prevent disclosure of information:

  • At the outset of the pandemic, we faced an extremely competitive procurement environment for essential supplies and PPE
  • To ensure that essential workers and Canadians had the urgent supplies and equipment needed, we leveraged various tools to ensure Canada had the most favorable negotiating position possible to streamline procurement efforts
  • As supply chains for essential equipment and supplies stabilize, we will continuously review opportunities to disclose additional contracting information to the public


At the outset of the pandemic, the government was faced with intense competition to procure essential supplies and PPE. To this end, the National Security Exception was applied to remove certain obligations, such as timeframes and public post tender notices, to complete urgent procurements more quickly. Additionally, the use of section 18 (b) of the Access to Information Act was also applied to exempt sensitive information relevant to ongoing contract negotiations.

Given the global nature of the pandemic and the severe competition for goods, we needed to protect the names of suppliers for certain hard-to-procure commodities, such as N95 respirators and test kits to ensure these sources of supply remained available to us.

In line with this new reality, and consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are now disclosing the majority of our COVID-19 contracting information on our webpage as well as through normal proactive disclosure requirements. In limited cases, certain contract details cannot be disclosed, for example to protect commercial confidentiality of suppliers.

Additional Information: