Ontario’s public sector employers are facing unfair restrictions for tendering construction contracts. As a result, municipalities are unable to get the best bang for the taxpayer’s buck when they tender for construction projects.
Public sector employers, specifically municipalities, are treated as businesses under Ontario’s Labour Relations Act, 1995. As a result of this classification, the Ontario Labour Board has been applying collective-bargaining rules for construction companies to municipalities and school boards.
A private members bill is currently being debated in the Ontario legislature. Bill 73: Fair and Open Tendering for Ontario would amend the Labour Relations Act so that municipalities would no longer be classified as ‘construction employers’.
The current system, which is unfair and costly, must change. It has created monopolies in some of the province’s largest municipalities, including Toronto, Hamilton, and Sault Ste. Marie. These monopolies limit the number of companies who can be considered for jobs, and in doing so restrict otherwise qualified candidates from bidding on work. The system stifles competition and often results in unnecessarily high infrastructure costs.
Fair and open tendering would free public employers, like municipalities, from constrictive agreements that prevent them from maximizing tax dollars. Public employers should be able to openly tender projects to all eligible bidders. This approach would allow public sector employers to operate more efficiently and foster economic growth through greater competition.
Questions or comments? Contact Josh Hjartarson, VP of Policy & Government Relations.
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