Toronto Taken to Court Over Shady Construction Deal

Backroom Deal Costs City Taxpayers up to $90 Million Annually

(Toronto, April 20, 2021) – When Toronto council approved a backroom deal that shut workers and companies out of city construction projects, and slapped taxpayers with higher construction costs, the move was illegal, according to the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) which is supporting a court challenge brought by the union CLAC, before Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice today.

“It’s time to expose an illegal and unethical arrangement that bans good workers and companies from city projects, for no reason other than politicking of the worst kind,” said Karen Renkema, PCA’s Vice-President, Ontario, whose member companies and workers are prevented from building public projects in Toronto.

Toronto only accepts bids on city construction work from companies affiliated with select unions. It is the only municipality in Ontario to opt of provincial legislation (Bill 66) that would have opened up its construction market to all qualified workers and companies.

On June 19, 2019, Toronto council delivered the ultimate snub to constituents. It approved a deal that raised construction costs, prevented the vast majority of companies and workers from building city projects and allowed one more union (LIUNA) into the select pool of labour unions and companies that have exclusive access to city construction work, from splash pads to arenas.

CLAC and PCA believe the arrangement violates the City of Toronto Act, and the city’s own bylaws and procurement policies, by privileging one group over others.

It’s well founded that when there are more bidders for public construction work, project costs are reduced by eight to 15 percent. If Toronto had opened up competition on city projects, it could have saved taxpayers between $48 million to $90 million annually. That’s funding that would have helped ease Toronto’s rising pandemic revenue losses.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when it takes legal action for Toronto councillors to do what’s fair, right and in the public interest,” added Renkema. “It’s time Toronto joined other municipalities and gave all qualified companies and workers a shot at building local projects.”