Sometimes it’s easier to just keep doing the same thing, even if it no longer makes sense.

Since 1945, the Government of Canada has granted a single Canadian security company, the Corps of Commissionaires, a “right of first refusal” (RFR) on all federal government contracts for security guard services, creating a virtual monopoly in exchange for the Corps’ promise to hire as many Veterans as they can to be part of their workforce, a proportion that has been dwindling over time. At its founding, the Corps’ workforce was 100% Veteran. Today, according to the Corps’ own website, only 4,500 of their 22,000 employees are Veterans, so less than 20% of their workforce.

This leaves them in a difficult position when it comes to fulfilling their obligations under the RFR. Which, in turn, has put the Government of Canada in a difficult position. They’ve had to water down the requirements the Corps (now known as Commissionaires) has to meet under the RFR. To the point that today, less than 1 percent of Canada’s more than 600,000 Veterans get work because of an RFR arrangement that increasingly benefits non-Veterans.

So why does the RFR keep getting renewed, even as it is watered down? Why are Canadian security companies not allowed to bid in a transparent, equitable contracting process? Surely this would significantly improve employment choices and opportunities for our Veterans? Rather than giving one private security company the RFR, why are all Canadian security companies — or indeed all Canadian companies — not being incentivized to hire Veterans? Why is the Government paying 15% more than it should for guard services to support less than 1% of Veterans, and couldn’t this money be better spent in providing up-to-date supports for all Veterans? These are some of the many questions that surround the outdated RFR.

Canadians are broadly in favour of modernizing the Government’s security guard services process. According to a recent Ipsos survey:

  • Nine in ten Canadians say that fair competition among all Canadian security services companies (89%), an open and transparent contracting process (88%), and the best service at the best price for the Canadian taxpayer (87%) are important considerations in awarding contracts for guard services.
  • Canadians are three times as likely to say there are better ways for the Government to support Veterans in their transition to civilian life (77%) than to say that the RFR is the best way for the Government to support Veterans in their transition to civilian life (23%).

The Government of Canada will be putting in place a National Veterans Employment Strategy, with a goal of ensuring all Veterans find meaningful work on release from the Canadian Armed Forces, leveraging skills and qualifications acquired while in service. Part of this strategy should be updating the RFR to give Veterans more options and opportunities. Because, we’d argue, it’s past time to take a choice which has been in the hands of one Canadian security company for the last eight decades (“do we want this work?”) and give it to the Veterans themselves.

Providing Veterans with well-coordinated supports that meet their needs and help ease their transition to civilian life is the least a grateful nation can do. But the world — and Veterans — have completely changed since 1945. It is time for supports to Veterans to catch up.

Canadian private security companies and associations have come together to advocate for fair, transparent and open competition in the procurement of security guard services by the Government of Canada.

Darren Pederson, Regional President, Allied Universal Security Services

Kyle Wightman, President, Atrium Sécurité Inc.

Jean-Luc Meunier, President and COO, GardaWorld

Danny Laflamme, President, Gardium Sécurité

Patrick St-Germain, President, Haute Protection La Capitale

Lawrence Conrad, Director, Independent Security Services Atlantic Inc.

Robin St. Martin, President, Iron Horse Security and Investigations

Denis Condie, President, Response Safety Security & Investigations

Robin Chakrabarti, President and COO, Securiguard

Doug Emsley, Chairman and CEO, Security Services Corp

Jean-Patrick Lariviere, President, SekurCorp

Dany Filteau, President, Sécurité De Francheville

Maurice Tassé, Director General, Sécurité Innu Inc.

Scott Young, President, The Alberta Association of Private Security Agencies

Frederico Ramos, President, Trimax Sécurité Inc.