Ontario Taxpayers Can’t Afford Closed Tendering
Legal loophole costs taxpayers more than $370 million a year
Cambridge—CLAC is calling for urgent action following the release of a new report saying that closed tendering restrictions on Ontario municipalities are costing taxpayers more than $370 million a year in added public infrastructure costs.
"We cannot afford to pay an unnecessary premium for construction work when the province has a huge infrastructure deficit," said Ian DeWaard, CLAC’s Ontario director. "CLAC wants the provincial government to correct the flaw in the labour legislation," said DeWaard. "Taking action will protect taxpayers and open Ontario municipalities up for business to all qualified contractors and workers."
Closed tendering is caused by a loophole in Ontario labour legislation that can bind municipalities to restrictive conditions about who they can contract with to build public infrastructure.
Cardus, an independent think tank in Hamilton, issued its findings in a report titled Shortchanging Ontario Cities and estimates that the constraints on competition result in an average premium cost of 15 percent or more. Closed tendering in many municipalities—including the City of Hamilton and the Region of Waterloo—shelters almost $2.5 billion worth of publicly funded municipal infrastructure work from open competition.
CLAC represents more than 5,000 workers in Ontario’s construction sector. In a recent survey of those members, 91 percent of respondents identified an end to unfair tendering as their priority concern in construction. "We have members who can do this work at the high standard the municipality expects and for equal compensation," said DeWaard. "We just need Ontario municipalities to be open for business."
CLAC also urges politicians in communities hindered by closed tendering to speak out and make this an issue in the upcoming municipal elections.