Mayors, Regional Chairs back call to end closed tendering

KITCHENER — Mayors and Regional Chairs of some of the province’s largest municipal governments, including Toronto, Ottawa and Waterloo Region, have called on the Liberals to take immediate action to stop the “back-door unionization” of Ontario municipalities.

“I am pleased to see that municipal leaders, representing the majority of Ontarians, have taken a stand for taxpayers by requesting that the Liberal government close a legal loophole that allows unions to trap municipalities in labour monopolies,” Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said.

On June 6, Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling sent a letter to Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi, on behalf of the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO), asking the Liberal government to exempt municipalities from the construction-sector rules under Ontario’s Labour Relations Act.

Seiling, who serves as the chair of MARCO, stated in his letter that this “amendment is needed so that municipalities would not be subject to back-door unionization by a trade union … and held to provisions of the Act that are truly intended for the construction industry.”

Harris tabled Bill 73, the Fair and Open Tendering Act, at Queen’s Park on May 16 to move this legislative solution forward, which would solve the problems addressed by MARCO and the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) in 2008.

“I want to thank the members of Merit Ontario who met with MARCO in May to discuss this important matter,” Harris said. “Their work with me on raising awareness among municipal leaders about the need for this legislative change has been instrumental in driving this issue forward.”

Last month, Merit Ontario made a presentation to MARCO to request that members approve a resolution asking the provincial government to reform Ontario’s labour laws to protect all contractors’ rights and to maintain open competition for infrastructure projects.

“On behalf of all Merit members we would like to thank the public leadership of MARCO for stepping forward in support of this important and long overdue reform that not only protects the taxpayers of Ontario from monopoly prices, but also ensures that every qualified contractor has the right to work on municipal infrastructure projects,” said Phil Besseling, past chair of Merit Ontario.

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