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PCA urges TDSB to adopt open tendering

PCA urges TDSB to adopt open tendering

TORONTO – The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) has issued a statement calling for the Toronto District School Board to support open tendering as a way to reduce its multimillion-dollar repair backlog.

In 2019, the TDSB voted to opt out of provincial legislation that would have allowed it to openly tender school construction work. The school board has opted to align with traditional trade unions, excluding non-union and PCA contractors who work with members of the Christian Labour Association of Canada.

According to the Cardus think-tank, the move to open tendering would have saved the board approximately 21 per cent on construction work, which translates into a $77.7 million savings annually.

Opening tendering allows all qualified contractors and their workers to bid on, and build, publicly funded construction projects.

The PCA argues when competition is restricted, costs rise.

The advocacy group Fix Our Schools is calling on the province to help fund the maintenance and repair backlog at the TDSB.

“This is a problem the TDSB should solve,” said Karen Renkema, vice-president, Ontario at the PCA, in a release. “If the school board supported open tendering, more repairs could be carried out at a far lower cost.”

Last year the board says it spent $370 million on repairs and related projects. For years, the TDSB has awarded repair contracts to the same companies affiliated with select unions. By restricting competition, the PCA states, repair costs have risen.

For example, the installation of a school’s front lawn sign: $19,000. An electrical outlet in a school library: $3,000. There was also the $143 bill to install a $17 pencil sharpener.

“The Toronto District School Board does students a great disservice by leaving schools in such a sorry state of disrepair,” added Renkema.

“Groups advocating for school repairs should be asking the TDSB why it continues to ignore the obvious solution.”

When the PCA issued a similar plea to the City of Toronto in January, Sean Strickland, Canada’s Building Trades Unions’ executive director, said the City of Toronto has determined that savings on projects would be minimal under open tendering and that councillors understand the benefits of a trade-union training.

“Open bidding can only achieve cost savings by reducing spending on desperately needed apprenticeship training and underpaying workers,” said Strickland.

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