CLAC Applauds Ontario's Move to Change Public Tendering Rules
Toronto—CLAC fully supports the Ontario government’s move today to close a loophole that has restricted fair and open bidding on major construction projects in the province. If passed, this change will mean that all qualified workers and contractors in Ontario can bid and work on public construction projects. The current legislation contains a loophole that has been used by construction craft unions to monopolize work to the exclusion of nonunion workers and members of independent unions.
“Ministers Todd Smith, Laurie Scott and the Ontario government have demonstrated with this change that they are prepared to fight for fair work opportunities for all construction workers,” says Ian DeWaard, CLAC Ontario director. “This change is about fair access to work for the 80 percent of construction workers who have been denied opportunities to work on projects simply because they aren’t members of the right union, and it will save taxpayer money by creating open, fair, and competitive bidding on public projects.”
The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 is proposing to fix a language issue in the Ontario Labour Relations Act that allows municipalities and other public entities to be organized by specified construction unions, as if those entities were private contractors in the business of construction. When this happens to a public entity, they are required to tender all of their construction work to a particular union (or small group of unions) and a select group of contractors.
Research conducted by the Hamilton-based Cardus think tank in 2018 showed that up to $2.5 billion worth of municipal construction work in Ontario each year is subject to construction labour monopolies. The added cost on affected projects is calculated to be in the hundreds of millions.
“This current legislative loophole is directly preventing qualified union and nonunion workers from accessing publicly funded construction projects, while also driving up costs for taxpayers,” says DeWaard. “Our members want to work on the local public projects they have been denied access to in the past and will take great pride in doing so if their contractor is selected through a much more open and fair process going forward.”
Earlier this year, a survey of CLAC’s Ontario construction members revealed that 91 percent believed that the provincial government needed to intervene to deliver a solution to end the monopolization of work by a few privileged construction craft unions. Further, 86 percent believe that their access to work opportunities is directly impeded because of these construction craft union monopolies.