TORONTO — The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, introduced Dec. 6 by the provincial government, if passed, will amend Ontario’s Labour Relations Act (LRA) to allow open construction tendering, meaning all qualified companies can bid on publicly-funded construction projects.
It’s part of what the government says is an effort to reduce red tape, with over 30 actions included in the overall proposed act.
Under the current tendering system, several municipalities and other public entities are treated as construction employers, which means they are required to contract their construction work to companies who are signatory to certain unions. The Region of Waterloo, and cities of Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie and Hamilton are considered construction employers.
For the construction industry the package would amend the LRA to explicitly deem public bodies, including municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities as non-construction employers.
“Certain broader public-sector entities have become bound to collective agreements for the construction industry, even though they are not actually in the construction business,” states a release from the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
“If the proposed amendments are passed, this is expected to increase competitiveness for broader public-sector construction projects.”
Several construction industry stakeholders applauded the news.
“Opening up construction competition is in the public interest,” said Sean Reid, vice-president and regional director of Ontario for the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, in a statement. “It makes fairness and value on infrastructure investments a priority. Closing this legislative loophole is simply the right thing to do.”
“The changes outlined in this bill will simply give every qualified contractor a fair shake, by allowing them to bid on work that is being funded from the public purse,” added Giovanni Cautillo, executive director of the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association.
The Daily Commercial News will have more construction industry reaction in an upcoming article.