Ontario Municipal Leaders Call For Changes To The Labour Relations Act
PCA and CLAC applaud Municipal advocacy to prevent closed tendering
TORONTO – The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) and the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) applaud the call from Mayors and Regional Chairs from across the province for standing up for fairness and open construction tendering. In a letter to the Ontario Labour Minister, Yasir Naqvi, the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO) recently called on the province to amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA) to ensure that public tendering of municipal infrastructure projects is open to all qualified contractors and workers regardless of union affiliation.
“Clearly, Ontario municipal leaders understand the serious consequences closed tendering can have for the residents and local businesses they represent,” said Sean Reid, PCA’s Federal and Ontario Director. We applaud MARCO for taking action on this important issue.”
When a municipality is unionized by a traditional Building Trades construction craft union they become subject to a province wide collective agreement that restricts who they can hire to construct most infrastructure projects. This type of closed tendering situation is becoming more common in Ontario. Hamilton, Toronto, Sault Ste Marie and the Greater Essex County District School Board are already bound by these conditions. The Region of Waterloo is actively fighting a certification attempt by a construction craft union.
“If this situation is left unchecked, it will result in municipal tendering processes being overtaken and driven by private sector organized construction interests at tremendous cost to local taxpayers,” said the letter from MARCO to the Minister of Labour.
Closed tendering creates an uneven playing field where access to public projects is restricted to a particular union. The increased cost of closed competition for large infrastructure projects can be up to 40 per cent and it can restrict approximately 70 per cent of companies from competing.
A Private Members Bill was introduced by Kitchener Conestoga MPP Michael Harris in May that, if passed, will make the necessary changes to the LRA to ensure open tendering on all municipal infrastructure projects. Bill 73, The Fair and Open Tendering Act, adds a definition into the LRA for Public Employers that explicitly states municipalities and school boards are not construction employers. PCA and CLAC are supportive of the Legislation introduced by MPP Harris.
“It should send a powerful message to Government that municipalities, construction employers and a construction union are all calling for action to protect fairness and taxpayer interests,” said Ian DeWaard, CLAC Regional Director. “The Government should support Bill 73 or introduce legislation themselves to deal with this matter. Either way the situation must change.”
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