GRIMSBY, ONT. — The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) has issued a pre-budget submission to the Ontario government that focuses on open tendering, modernizing Ontario’s skilled trades and boosting apprenticeship investments.
The document argues that Ontario would maximize the value of its infrastructure investments by extending the provisions of Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, to cover the City of Toronto.
“A previous report by the think–tank Cardus found that the city could generate at least $174 million in savings annually by simply opening up construction tendering to all qualified contractors,” the submission stated.
Thus, the PCA argues, the budget should “provide all taxpayers with the best possible value on infrastructure investments by continuing to encourage an open, competitive construction market for all public projects. Consider further legislative measures to direct the City of Toronto to tender all construction projects through a competitive bidding process that is open to all qualified contractors, regardless of union affiliation.”
The submission also highlights the effects of restrictive project labour agreements (PLAs). A PLA signed by Ottawa Hospital ensures only workers affiliated with traditional building trades are allowed to work. The PCA employs workers who are members of the Christian Labour Association of Canada.
“As a result, many highly qualified companies and local workers are shut out of an important project that their tax dollars help fund,” the submission stated.
The submission praises recent government efforts to expand access to the skilled trades. “However, there needs to be a co-ordinated and long-term approach so that employers have assurances that government will be financially supporting them throughout the entire apprenticeship process,” stated the PCA.