In 1945, the Government of Canada introduced a procurement preference for the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires (now known as Commissionaires). This policy is known as the Right of First Refusal (RFR). This was done at the request of Commissionaires. The intent was to assist Veterans returning from World War II who lacked skills or qualifications, or who had disabilities that limited the nature of work they could undertake, while meeting the federal government’s need for security guard services.
The Government of Canada has renewed this RFR arrangement every 5 years since. The last renewal was for 3 years. When it expires on March 31, 2023, the RFR will have been in place for 78 years.
In 2004, changes were made to clarify the definition of Veterans and require that a minimum of 70-per-cent of hours on contracts awarded under the RFR be performed by them.
By 2006, the policy had to be changed again to expand the definition of Veterans to include former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and to reduce the 70-per-cent requirement to 60 percent and allow for this percentage to be calculated on a national average basis, as opposed to an individual contract basis.
Commissionaires has struggled to meet even these less stringent requirements: a recent assessment found the actual percentage of hours worked by Veterans was 39 percent.
Today, 20% of Commissionaires’ employees are Veterans. Only 4,500 of Canada’s 600,000 veterans (less than 1 percent!) get work because of the RFR.