Policy 17 – Quotations and Tenders

The policies found on the website of the Secretariat are compulsory rules for the University community. The authoritative copies of the policies are held by the Secretariat and bear the seal of the University. The online version accessible through the website of the Secretariat is available for information purposes only. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the authoritative copy held by the Secretariat , the authoritative copy shall prevail. Please contact the Secretariat for assistance if necessary.


14 February 1967


May 1, 2024


28 February 2020. Amended, official titles only.





Responsible/Originating Department:

Procurement & Contract Services

Executive Contact:

Vice-President, Administration & Finance

Related Policies, Guidelines and Procedures:

Guidelines for Quotations and Tenders
Policy 46 - Information Management
Policy 22 - Regulations Governing the Installation of Equipment in University Buildings
Policy 28 – Payment of Moving Expenses and Travel Allowances to Newly-Appointed Faculty and Staff Members
Policy 31 – University Expenses
Policy 52 – Private Corporations
Policy 69 – Conflict of Interest
Policy 74 – Capital and Non-Capital Assets
Procedures re: University Contracts
Guidelines for Expenses
Procedure 1, Contracts and Agreements – Excluding Research
Procedure 1A, Contracts and Agreements – Research
Procedure 6, University of Waterloo Pension Plans and Insured Benefit Plans 
Procedure 8 – Banking
Procedure 9 – Investments
Procedure 25, Contracts and Agreements – Zero or Unspecified Dollar Amount
Procedure 26, Contracts and Agreements – Zero or Unspecified Dollar Amount, Template Approved by the Secretariat

Please also see the policies and guidelines page on the websites of Procurement & Contract Services and the Office of Research Ethics.

1. Introduction

This policy governs the procurement of goods and services on behalf of the University of Waterloo and provides the principles and framework for the procurement process.  The Guidelines for Quotations and Tenders (the “Guidelines”) are an integral part of the policy and provide additional information and clarifications regarding procurement practices.

2. Scope

This policy is applicable to all University employees involved in the procurement of goods and services, as well as, third parties contracted as agents to procure goods and services on behalf of the University.

3. Legal Framework

In addition to the above mentioned “Related Policies, Guidelines & Procedures”, the policy will be construed in accordance with applicable law, in particular:

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, S.O. 2005, c.11;
  • Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, S.O. 2010, c. 25;
  • Broader Public Sector Procurement Directive, Management Board of Cabinet, 1 July 2011;
  • Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 4;1
  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.F.31; and
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1.

Certain trade agreements may also impose requirements on the University with respect to procurement, including the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Quebec-Ontario Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

If any of these legal provisions are modified, abrogated, superseded, or added to, the policy will be interpreted in accordance with the new legal framework.

4. Purpose

The aim of this policy is to ensure that procurement activities are conducted in a fair, impartial and transparent manner, which results in optimal outcomes for the University and complies with applicable legal provisions, the Procurement Code of Ethics (see Appendix A), and the terms and conditions of grantors and government agencies.

5. Responsibility

The application and interpretation of this policy is the responsibility of the vice-president, administration & finance. The necessary controls and procedures to ensure that expenditures for goods and services are handled in a publicly accountable manner, according to principles of sound business practice and this policy, shall be established by the vice-president, administration & finance and applied through the individuals charged with such authority as detailed by University signing procedures (hereinafter referred to as the “authorized agent”) as outlined in the Guidelines.

6. Bid Process

The University is committed to a fair and open competitive bid process. This objective will be achieved by the use of informal, formal and sealed bids obtained by those individuals authorized to enter into contracts, agreements and purchase orders on behalf of the University. Written quotations and tenders received will be recorded on or attached to the original request, requisition or document.

7. Award of Purchase Orders/Contracts

Business will be placed with those firms offering the best price and overall value consistent with specifications and required quality, delivery and service. All transactions valued at CAD$10,000 or greater will be formally executed by purchase order or written contract.

8. Requirements for Quotations and Tendering

The acquisition of goods/services is subject to the following requirements for quotations and tendering, providing the following is not in contravention of any terms and conditions made by grantors and government agencies:

A. Acquisition of goods/services (other than consulting services) with an estimated total cost of less than CAD$10,000 per transaction (not including taxes) requires a minimum of one oral or written quotation, provided the authorized agent is familiar with the market and prices of the goods/services in question. If the authorized agent is unfamiliar with the market or prices of the goods/services in question, multiple quotes are encouraged.

B. Acquisition of goods/services (other than consulting services) with an estimated total cost of CAD$10,000 to CAD$99,999 per transaction (not including taxes) requires a minimum of three written quotations.

C. Acquisition of goods/services (other than consulting services) with an estimated total cost of CAD$100,000 or greater (not including taxes) requires a publicly advertised competitive bidding process.

D. Acquisition of consulting services: Requirements for competitive bidding for consulting services, consistent with the applicable provincial legislation, will be published on the Procurement & Contract Services web page. “Consulting services” means the provision of expertise or strategic advice that is presented for consideration and decision-making. Notwithstanding the foregoing, services provided by licensed professionals, including medical doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians, engineers, land surveyors, architects, accountants, lawyers and notaries are typically excluded from these requirements for the reasons given in Section 9.A

9. Exceptions to Quotation/Tendering Requirements

A. Where goods or consulting services regarding matters of a confidential or privileged nature are to be purchased and the disclosure of those matters through an open tendering process could reasonably be expected to compromise confidentiality, the University may choose to request proposals from one or more parties and choose the best overall value to the University.

B. Where the University is involved in a co-operative venture to purchase goods/services with other local or provincial organizations, such purchases are to be made according to the procedures of the co-operative purchasing group, which may not be identical to, but will be consistent with the intent of this policy.

C. In the event of of particular goods or services as outlined in the Guidelines, the requirements of this policy may be waived.

D. Where payments are directed to a single source.

10. Clarifications to Requirements and Exceptions

A. The overall value of a procurement must not be reduced (e.g., dividing a single procurement into multiple procurements) in order to circumvent these competitive procurement thresholds.

11. Handling, Storing and Maintaining Suppliers' Confidential and Commercially Sensitive Information

A. In accordance with the University’s Policy 46, Information Management, all information provided by suppliers is classified as “confidential” and will be available to only those University employees requiring the information for a legitimate purpose. Handling, storage and maintenance of this information will be carried out in accordance with the University of Waterloo guidelines and procedures for managing confidential records.

B. The University collects, uses, maintains, discloses and disposes of information in a manner consistent with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). If a member of the public requests access to confidential and commercially sensitive information provided by suppliers, he or she will be asked to make a formal access request to the University's Privacy Officer, which request will be assessed in accordance with FIPPA.

                                Appendix A

                         Procurement Code of Ethics

Goal: To ensure ethical, open and accountable business practices.

I. Personal Integrity and Professionalism

All individuals involved with procurement or 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 with 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.

II. Accountability and Transparency

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 public money. All participants must ensure that resources are used in a responsible, efficient and effective manner.

III. Compliance and Continuous Improvement

All individuals involved in purchasing activities must comply with this Code of Ethics and the laws of Canada and Ontario. All individuals should continuously work to improve procurement policies and procedures, to improve their supply chain knowledge and skill levels, and to share leading practices.