Getting Started with Procurement

As a public funded organization, the procurement at University of Guelph is governed by the laws and regulations of Canada and Ontario. These legislative requirements are mostly reflected by the University's policies and procedures.

It is the responsibility of every member of the University’s faculty and staff involved in procurement activities such as planning, sourcing, requisitioning, contracting, receiving and payment to understand these requirements and abide by them.


Purchasing Code of Ethics

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The goal of a Purchasing Code of Ethics is to provide a general foundation on which to build professional and accountable practices and behavior in all areas of procurement activity.


All individuals involved with purchasing or other procurement related activities must act, and be seen to act, with integrity and professionalism. Honesty, care and due diligence must be integral to all procurement activities within and between the University, its suppliers and other stakeholders. Respect must be demonstrated for each other and for the environment. Confidential information must be safeguarded. All participants must not engage in any activity that may create, or appear to create, a conflict of interest, such as accepting gifts or favours, providing preferential treatment, or publicly endorsing suppliers or products.


Procurement activities must be open and accountable. In particular, contracting and purchasing activities must be fair, transparent and conducted with a view to obtaining the best value for University funds.


All individuals involved in the purchasing or other procurement-related activities must comply with this policy and the laws of Canada and Ontario. In this context the University is committed to continuously work to improve procurement policies and procedures, to improve the knowledge and skill levels, and to share leading practices, where possible.

Conflict of Interest Policy

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This Policy is intended to facilitate employees’ ability to maintain the highest business and ethical standards, and to facilitate the protection of the integrity of employees in the course of their job responsibilities.

This Policy defines and addresses potential, apparent and actual conflicts of interest. It provides guidance to employees so that conflicts of interest are recognized and either avoided or resolved expeditiously through appropriate disclosure and management.

The fundamental principle underlying this Policy is that employees must not permit relationships with others or external business activities to conflict, or appear to conflict, with the interests of the University.

To learn more about the University of Conflict of Interest Policy, visit Human Resources website.

Broader Public Sector Procurement Directive

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The Ontario Ministry of Finance Broader Public Sector (BPS) Procurement Directive is based on the following five key principles that allow Organizations to achieve value for money while following a procurement process that is fair and transparent to all stakeholders:

  • Accountability
  • Transparency 
  • Value for Money
  • Quality Service Delivery
  • Process Standardization

To learn more about the BPS Procurement Directive, click following links:

BPS Procurement Directive Purpose
BPS Procurement Directive Principles
BPS Procurement Directive Requirements Overview
Supply Chain Code of Ethics
Competitive Procurement Thresholds
Procurement of Consulting Services
Non-Competitive Procurement and Exemptions
Competitive Bidding Process
Contract Management

You can also go to the Ontario Ministry of Finance website for more information by clicking below links:

BPS Procurement Directive
Questions and Answers prepared by Ontario Ministry of Finance
Presentation by Ontario Ministry of Finance

From January to March 2012, Purchasing Services held eight (8) campus wide training sessions on the BPS Procurement Directive.  Over 200 staff and faculty participated in this training. 
For presentation of the training session, click here .
For questions and answers from the training session, click here.

Trade Agreements

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Trade agreements support the exchange of goods and services between Ontario and other countries and provinces. Trade agreements and procurement practices are built on the fundamental principles of Fairness, Transparency and Reciprocal Non-Discrimination.

Ontario is a party to two domestic trade agreements:

  • Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), a pan-Canadian trade agreement that replaced the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), and took effect on July 1, 2017
  • Ontario-Quebec Trade and Cooperation Agreement (OQTCA), a comprehensive bi-lateral agreement with the province of Quebec (aligns with CFTA)

Ontario is also subject to international trade agreements, including:

  • The Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which took effect on September 21, 2017
  • The World Trade Organizationl Agreement on Government Procurement (WTO-GPA)

Under these agreements, the University is required to provide open access to our procurement requirements above minimum threshold of $100,000 per tender.

Customs Legislation

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Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is the government authority who administers and enforces more than 90 acts, regulations and international agreements on behalf of other federal departments and agencies.  Among them are Customs Act, Customs Tariff, Export and Import Permits Act, Food and Drugs Act, Prohibited and Restricted Goods, etc.

Over the recent years, regulation changes have resulted in expanding information requirements, greater enforcement of customs responsibilities for all importers and exporters, and tighter timelines for information required prior to the release of goods. Compliance audits have also been incorporated into all of the CBSA programs, and non-compliance may result in penalties to the University as dictated under the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).

The risks related to customs non-compliance are not only financial, they can spill over to affect reputation, eligibility fo research grants, and the quality of research and academic programs.  In a worst case scenario, a facility could be shut down and related certifications, licensing or permits could be revoked.

To learn more about customs legislations, visit Canada Border Services Agency website.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

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This legislation places a legal obligation on the University to provide accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, building, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2014.

Under the AODA, the following Ontario Regulations establish the accessibility standards the University is required to meet as a public service provider.

  • Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ontario Regulation 429/07)
  • Integrated Accessibility Standards (Ontario Regulation 191/11)

The University is committed to creating and maintaining an accessible university community under this Act. All procurement authorities of the University shall incorporate, where appropriate, accessibility criteria and features when procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities.

What you need to do

Public sector organizations must include accessibility criteria in their processes for buying and acquiring goods, services and facilities. This means you must consider accessibility, where possible, along with other criteria like the quality and cost of the items. You must also incorporate accessible design and features where possible.

For example:

  • Santosh is buying a new printer for the office. There are accessible models that are easier to use for people in wheelchairs, but none will work with the company network. Instead, Santosh buys a regular printer and puts it on a lower table to make it more accessible for employees who use a wheelchair. When it’s time to buy new computers or replace the company network, he plans to choose technologies that will work with an accessible printer.
  • Stacy is looking for a conference centre to host her company’s annual staff day. Cost and location are important, of course. But Stacy also ensures the facility has an accessible entrance and washrooms, as well as staff who are trained in providing accessible customer service.
  • The Town of Anywhere considers accessibility in all of its buying decisions. Where possible, the Town tells vendors in writing the accessibility criteria and features it will consider. The Town also provides guidelines on how it will evaluate vendor proposals based on accessibility. Where it is not practical to address accessibility concerns, the Town will explain why in an accessible format, on request.
  • Jonas was buying new computer monitors for his company. He requires the monitors to offer adjustable colours and contrast so they would be accessible to people with vision loss. The monitors also have to include buttons that users could identify by feeling them and be able to operate easily with one hand. Finally, Josh asked the vendors to ensure that the instructions on using the monitors are available in accessible formats.
  • Omar is opening a new office downtown. When viewing possible locations, Omar looks for a visible alarm system to alert people with hearing loss. He also looks for elevator buttons that use raised lettering for people who are blind.
  • When interviewing consultants to train staff, Linda asks the companies how they would accommodate people with different disabilities. She also asks if they provide training materials in accessible formats.

Questions to ask about accessibility

When you’re buying and acquiring goods, services or facilities, you should ask these questions to ensure your meeting accessibility standards.

For goods

  • Can the product be used by someone:
    • in a seated position?
    • using one hand, with limited upper body strength?
    • with limited fine motor skills?
    • with vision loss or low vision?
    • with hearing loss?
  • Does the product meet ergonomic standards?
  • Can the product be customized to meet different needs?
  • Are instructions for using the product clear and easy to follow?
  • Are support materials (e.g., manuals or training materials) available in accessible formats at no extra charge?

For services

  • Does the firm provide accessible customer service?
  • Can the service provider accommodate the needs of people of all abilities? For example, if you’re hiring someone to do research for you, do their surveys and interviews accommodate people with different types of disabilities?
  • Will the company use accessible signage, audio and/or print materials? For example, if you’re hiring an event coordinator, will they use high contrast signs for the event?

For facilities

  • Can someone using a mobility aid (e.g., wheelchair or walker) move around the facility?
  • Are signs placed at an accessible height?
  • Does the facility have emergency procedures to assist people with disabilities?

If accessibility is not an option

If you cannot find or use an accessible product, service or facility, you must be prepared to:

  • explain why
  • provide your explanation in an accessible format or with communication supports, when requested

To learn more about the AODA requirements, please visit the University's Accessibility website and Human Rights and Equity website.

Code of Ethical Conduct for Suppliers

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The University of Guelph has long believed that its dealings with suppliers should reflect the institution's recognition that consumer decisions have an impact on those involved in production.

In 2012, the University's Board of Governors approved a Code of Ethical Conduct for Suppliers and Subcontractors in Relation to Working Conditions and Employment Standards (the Code). The purpose of the Code is to ensure that the University does its utmost to have positive impact on working conditions and to minimize the possibility of its contribution to oppressive working conditions.  As a result, the University of Guelph requires suppliers and subcontractors with which it does business and who fall within the scope of this Code to conduct their business and uphold workplace standards in adherence to the Code.

The University procurement authorities are committed to promoting a greater standard of ethical conduct from suppliers and subcontractors by actively implementing our policy and procedures, working constructively with campus community and suppliers and moving toward purchasing from employers who treat their employees in an ethical manner.

In an effort to strengthen the University’s position that all University’s apparel suppliers need to demonstrate their compliance to the Code, the University will require all suppliers who supply apparel products to the University to confirm their compliance of the Code by completing the Supplier Verification of Compliance (SVC) form. Specifically,

  • The University will require all departments to procure apparel products from suppliers who have completed their SVC forms.  
  • The University will maintain a list of apparel product suppliers on its Ethical Buying website that have completed the SVC forms. Departments are encouraged to source their apparel products from the suppliers on this list.
  • Any university departments that would like to procure apparel products from a supplier who has not completed the SVC form will be required to ask the supplier to complete the form prior to a Purchase Order being issued.  The SVC form will be required as an attachment to the purchase requisitions for HVPO.
  • Purchasing Services will be responsible to refresh all suppliers’ SVC forms on an annual basis.  The supplier list on the Ethical Buying website will be refreshed and maintained according to the result of the annual process.

For more information on University’s policy and procedures on Code of Ethical Conduct, and the list of suppliers who have completed the SVC form and the compliance verification process, visit Ethical Buying website;


Special Commodity Regulations

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Certain commodities are regulated by some government agencies due to their special nature and related risks when they are handled improperly.  These special commodities include:

  • Controlled Goods as defined in the Control Goods Program (CGP) of Canada by Public Works and Government Services Canada;
  • Hazardous Materials as defined by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and its Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation;
  • Dangerous Goods as defined by Transport Canada in Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and related Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Regulations. 

Purchases of these special commodities must be compliant with the related government regulations and the University's Special Authority Approval procedures. 

To learn more about these Regulations, click each category to visit related government websites.

Purchasing Policy and Procedures

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The University's Purchasing Policy  provides the framework, general principles and overall guidance for procurement activities at the University of Guelph. The procurement of goods and services by all departments of the University regardless of the final source of funding shall be compliant with the Purchasing Policy.

Purchasing Authority

All procurement activities shall be authorized and approved by the authority as defined by the University's General Policy - Delegation of Authority for Commitment of University Funds Upon Budget Allocation.

Segregation of Duties

In general, 3 of the 5 purchasing functions below should be completed by different individuals for each procurement.

Roles Task Who
Requisition Authorize the budget unit to place an order Department budget authority, research principle investigator or authorized delegate
Budget Ensure that funding is available to cover the cost of the order Department budget authority, research principle investigator or authorized delegate
Commitment Authorize the release of the order to the supplier under agreed terms Buyer in department or Purchaing Services
Receipt Receive the order physically and verify the order is correct and complete Department individual receiving the goods or confirming services have been provided
Payment Approve invoices and authorize release of payment to the supplier Departmental budget authority, Payment Services staff and University signing officers

Procurement Thresholds, and Sourcing and Contracting Requirements

Based on the total procurement value, all procurement shall be conducted in a manner that meets the sourcing and contracting requirements specified below.

1. Goods and Non-Consulting Services

Total Procurement Value (CAD) Sourcing Requirements
(How to Select Supplier)

Contracting Requirements
(How to Place Order)

0 - 4,999 1 quote

One of the following: 

  • Order from pre-negotiated University contracts with GL coding (SMC)
  • Order with Procurement Card issued by the University (PCard)
  • Purchase order issued by department financial administrators (LVPO)
5,000 - 9,999 Minimum of 1 written quote One of the following:
  • Order from pre-negotiated University contracts with GL coding (SMC)
  • Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
10,000 - 24,999 Minmum of 2 written quotes A One of the following:
  • Order from pre-negotiated University contracts with GL coding (SMC)
  • Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
25,000 - 99,999 Minimum of 3 written quotes (invitational competitive procurement) A Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
Over 99,999 Open competitive procurement (RFx) A Purchase order issued by Purchaing Services (HVPO)

 A: Single Source / Sole Source is used only as an ecxception, it can not be used as a subsittute for quotes.

2. Consulting Services

Total Procurement Value (CAD) Sourcing Requirements
(How to Select Supplier)
Contracting Requirements
(How to Place Order)
0 - 4,999 Minimum of 3 written quotes (invitational competitive procurement) B One of the following:
  • Order with Procurement Card issued by the University (PCard)
  • Purchase order issued by department financial administrators (LVPO)
5,000 - -99,999 Minimum of 3 written quotes (invitational competitive procurement) B Purchase order issued by Purchaing Services (HVPO)
Over 99,999 Open competitive procurement (RFx) B Purchase order issued by Purchaing Services (HVPO)

 B: Single Source / Sole Source of consulting services below $1,000,000 requires approval by the President; over $1,000,000 requires approval by the Board of Governors.

3. Special Commodities

  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Radioactive Materials
  • Live Animal-Vertebrates
  • Biological Hazardous Materials
  • Hazardous Materials)
Total Procurement Value (CAD) Sourcing Requirements
(How to Select Supplier)
Contracting Requirements
(How to Place Order)
0 - 4,999 1 quote Purchase order issued by Purchaing Services (HVPO
Over 4,999 same requirements as for Goods and Non-Consulting Services same requirements as for Goods and Non-Consulting Services


Non-Competitive Procurement

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In 2017, two new Canadian trade agreements came into effect: the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) on July 1st and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) on September 21st.

As a publicly funded institution, the University is subject to the procurement obligations of both trade agreements. All University procurements must be compliant with the requirements outlined in the chapter of Government Procurement in each trade agreement. In addition, the University must follow the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Procurement Directive to conduct our procurements.

It is a mandatory requirement of the University's Purchasing Policy that the University is to use a competitive procurement process to acquire goods or non-consulting services valued at $10,000 and over, and consulting services regardless of dollar value. It is a mandatory requirement of the BPS Procurement Directive and the applicable trade agreements that the University is to publicly tender the procurement of goods or services valued at $100,000 and over.

However, it is recognized that in exceptional circumstances, only one supplier may be able or capable of providing the goods or services. In these circumstances, the University must justify a non-competitive procurement using one of the limited tendering or non-application provisions in the applicable trade agreements.  To view the list of the provisions that are relevant to the University procurements, please refer to Non-Competitive Procurement Provisions.

For provisions that could have different interpretations, department procurement authorities shall contact Purchasing Services for guidance prior to using the provision in your justification. 

For procurement valued at $100,000 and over, it is highly recommended that department procurement authorities contact Purchasing Services before making any procurement decisions utilizing a non-competitive process.

Non-Competitive Procurement Justifiation form is required for the non-competitive procurement of:

  • goods or non-consulting services of CAD$10,000 or more; or
  • consulting services regardless of value.

For an example of completed Non-Competitive Procurement Justification, please refer to Sample of Completed Non-Competitive Procurement Justification.