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Letter to the Editor: Ottawa Hospital has nothing to brag about

Karen Renkema
Letter to the Editor: Ottawa Hospital has nothing to brag about


To the Editor,

The Ottawa Hospital calls it a “landmark” agreement. But if the public truly understood the implications of the hospital’s sweetheart deal to build its new Civic Campus, it would not be something to brag about.

What the public may not realize is that the hospital entered into an exclusive agreement with the Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec Building and Construction Trades Council.

As a result, only contractors and workers affiliated with this labour group can build the project. Thousands of Ottawa-area workers who choose not to affiliate with these select unions are shut out, along with many experienced local construction firms.

The hospital’s pursuit of a restrictive Project Labour Agreement (PLA) isn’t fair to taxpayers either.

A report by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), estimates this labour arrangement will escalate project costs by anywhere from $168 million to $525 million by 2028.

The MEI concludes “it is unacceptable for a public entity to make taxpayers pay more by granting exclusivity to only a certain group of affiliated workers.”

The Ottawa Hospital has suggested its restrictive PLA “will create apprenticeship opportunities for underrepresented groups including First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, women, and diverse and at-risk youth.”

But that’s not how it’s worked out in B.C. where a restrictive PLA has barred several Cowichan Tribes’ company workers from building a hospital in their own community. It’s all because they do not carry the right union card. This project is no different.

The $2.8 billion hospital expansion is being funded by taxpayers. It’s a large-scale project that excludes many talented local workers and companies because union affiliation is the priority, not merit or public value. Now that, is nothing to be proud of.

Karen Renkema
VP Ontario,
Progressive Contractors Association of Canada

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