Ontario Budget Infrastructure Funding Welcomed, But Raises Questions

Toronto, April 27, 2017 – The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) welcomes the Ontario government’s continued investment and commitment to skills training in today’s budget through its focus on modernizing the province’s apprenticeship program, improving access and completion rates.

While PCA also commends the Ontario government for committing $156 billion in infrastructure over the next ten years, including $3 million for wastewater treatment plant upgrades in the Region of Waterloo and $2.3 million for road work in Sault Ste. Marie, it raises the question:

“Why won’t the province amend its outdated labour laws so its infrastructure funding goes further?” said Karen Renkema, PCA’s Senior Manager, Public Affairs, Ontario. “It’s an easy fix that would allow the Ontario government to maximize its infrastructure investments. Until it does, these funding announcements leave us scratching our heads.”

A loophole in Ontario’s Labour Relations Act forces several municipalities including the Region of Waterloo, the Sault, Toronto and Hamilton to restrict completion on taxpayer funded infrastructure work. As a result, many local companies and workers are shut out. Research shows this lack of competition inflates construction costs, leaving Ontario taxpayers paying anywhere from $188 to $283 million too much each year for infrastructure projects.

“With so many Ontario municipalities in desperate need of infrastructure and so short on funding, the province should be doing all it can to make funding investments count,” added Renkema. “Construction competition results in greater efficiency and fairness. It’s about time taxpayers insisted on better value and fairness.”

PCA is the voice of progressive unionized employers in Canada’s construction industry. PCA member companies employ more than 25,000 skilled construction workers across Canada, represented primarily by CLAC.

 Media inquiries: Danna O’Brien, danna@obriencommunications.ca 416-500-0699