Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Ensuring Job Security Through Dining and Janitorial Services Contracts at SFU
Year Submitted 2018
Awarded Third Prize Ex-aequo
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name / Nom Title / Titre
Mary Aylesworth Director, Financial Operations
Name of Institution Simon Fraser University
Office Address Simon Fraser University 8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
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Telephone: 778 782 3256
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Mark
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) McLaughlin
Office Address 8888 University Dr.
Buranby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
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Telephone: 778-782-3950
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

Post-secondary institutions have a unique opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the social infrastructure of the communities in which they are imbedded. As Canada’s leading engaged university, SFU undertook an innovative and socially progressive approach to awarding its $15M annual dining services contract with the objective of leveraging its purchasing power to positively impact the local environment, people and economy.


On December 2nd, 2016 SFU launched a RFP seeking a forward-thinking food services provider for its Burnaby campus. In addition to providing high quality and healthy foods for its diverse community, SFU placed significant emphasis on both the retention of the current unionized staff who were under contract with the incumbent food service operator, and the need for these staff to receive wages no less than their current rates.


SFU considered all 225 front-line staff employed by the current operator as vital members of its community, and recognized the need to take institutional level action to retain them in the event of an operator change. Since SFU was not the employer, the RFP language had to be written so as not to be interpreted as assuming any employer obligations. 


Cross-departmental collaborations among administrative departments including Procurement Services, Ancillary Services, Human Resources, Legal Services and the Sustainability Office were instrumental to the success of this innovative practice. By adding this requirement, SFU demonstrated its commitment to securing equitable pay and job security for its service providers hired under third party contracts. This wage protection also ensured that an aggressive bidder would not submit a low bid based upon a reduction of staff wages.


Following the awarding of the contract, the incoming operator voluntarily recognized the current dining staff union and offered positions to all dining staff employees of the outgoing operator. A first collective agreement was reached in March 2017 ensuring job continuity and equivalent wages and benefits, including pensions. Through this process, SFU was able to mitigate service disruptions associated with hiring and training of new dining staff by the incoming service provider.


SFU is currently pursuing a similar staff continuity requirement for its janitorial contract and has received multiple inquiries on the transferability of this practice from peer institutions.  By setting a new industry best practice, demonstrating its feasibility and success, SFU directly contributes to its vision of being Canada’s leading engaged University.     

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

While each institution is unique, with varying levels of community and administrative engagement on responsible and sustainable procurement processes, elements of this best practice can be transferred to procurement processes, especially when the staff are employed under a third-party contract such as for dining or janitorial services (as demonstrated by SFU). By setting an employment and wage continuity requirement within the RFP, institutions can demonstrate support for third party workers and drive innovation in the marketplace, setting a higher standard for similar public procurement processes in the future. At minimum, institutions can serve as facilitators and leverage their purchasing power to actively engage with perspective suppliers and encourage them to adopt similar best practices, especially those that align with their university’s vision or sustainability plans. In addition to sharing resources and directly engaging with procurement officers interested in pursuing similar staff continuity requirements, SFU has joined the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MSPC) to further engage with municipalities and post-secondary institutions on sustainable procurement practices.   

Quality Impact

Through staff continuity, SFU was able to secure a seamless transition from one dining service provider to another with no interruptions and/or negative impacts to its university community. All catering for meetings, events, weddings and conferences including those that were scheduled prior to the provider change were executed as scheduled with no major interruptions. Dining hall and vendor operating hours, menu options and prices remained the same throughout the transition as well as the various unique dining options available at SFU including the popular summer time food truck Wednesdays. Staff continuity ensured great customer service for the community, especially the student body who interact with front-line dining staff on a daily basis. Furthermore, by facilitating staff continuity and incorporating it as a requirement within its RFP, SFU was able to balance its goal of seeking a forward-thinking food services provider with a focus on exceptional customer service, sustainable practices, wellness, cultural awareness and staff engagement with its commitment to community engagement, ethical and socially sustainable procurement practices.

Productivity Impact

By demonstrating support and facilitating dialogue and engagement among various stakeholders throughout this process, SFU eliminated the threat of a worker’s strike and its subsequent impact on the community, its student experience and overall institutional reputation. Additionally, by advocating for staff continuity, SFU mitigated over 330 hours of training costs and time away from the frontline for new dining staff on its various institution-wide programs such as: Fair Trade Campus, Zero Waste Initiative, Sustainable Spaces and much more. This figure does not account for additional training that would have been required for new dining staff on SFU’s buildings, delivery and pick up systems and the added high cost of training staff to franchisor specifications. SFU also saw an increase in its catering sales by 5% during the first three months of the transition and staff continuity ensured efficient service delivery and customer service to meet the increase demand.



Post-secondary institutions are uniquely situated to accelerate and innovate best practices in operational excellence. Such innovative practices not only lead to the university’s success, but also the success of the communities in which they are embedded. Employees hired under third party contractors are often in precarious roles with limited job security. By adding a staff and wage continuity requirement within the RFP process, SFU has set a new standard and best practice for third party contractor procurement processes going forward. SFU has incorporated similar requirements within its current janitorial contract tender and is working to ensure job continuity and security for 170 janitorial staff. SFU continues to engage with suppliers and leverages its institutional strength and purchasing power to hold vendors, suppliers, and internal staff accountable for the impact of its spending. In this way, SFU drives innovation in the marketplace and sets a higher standard for public procurement, directly contributing to the social infrastructure of the communities it is embedded in.


Supporting Documents