KITCHENER — This week, Kitchener Council took a bold stand to support restoring fairness to the city’s tendering process for masonry contracts by endorsing Bill 73, the Fair and Open Tendering Act, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.
“I am pleased to see that Kitchener Council has taken a stand for the qualified local contractors who’ve been prevented from working on municipal projects simply because they don’t hold the right union card or have chosen not to hold one at all,” Harris said. “Having the support of Kitchener, which has been subject to closed-tendering restrictions for masonry work for more than 30 years, builds on the overwhelming support for Bill 73.”
To date the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario and the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario, along with several other municipalities, have endorsed Harris’s call to close a legal loophole in the Labour Relations Act, which allows certain unions to restrict municipal infrastructure work to companies only they represent.
In a nine-to-one vote on Monday night, Kitchener Council also approved a motion moved by Coun. Yvonne Fernandes, endorsing Harris’s bill. “I am very pleased with the support from the majority of Kitchener City Council for Bill 73,” Coun. Fernandes said. “This support shows the province that councillors recognize the importance of open-tendering for municipalities. We want to spend taxpayers’ dollars wisely and this bill, if passed, will allow us to do so.”
Closed tendering prevents roughly 70% of qualified contractors from working on our bridges, water-treatment facilities and public buildings. Several municipalities, including Hamilton, Kitchener, Sault Ste. Marie and Toronto, have fallen victim to this practice. As a result, reputable local masonry companies in Kitchener, for example, have been shut out of building or working on municipal buildings, like the Kitchener Library.
To restore and preserve open tendering, Harris tabled Bill 73, the Fair and Open Tendering Act, on May 16 at Queen’s Park. This bill, if passed, would add a very clear definition to the Labour Relations Act for public-sector employers that would exempt municipalities and school boards from the province’s collective-bargaining rules for the construction industry.