Open tendering saves all three levels of government money: Harris

OTTAWA — Yesterday, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris appeared before a federal committee to explain how ending labour monopolies in Ontario and preventing new ones from developing would save all three levels of government millions of dollars every year.

“For years, certain construction unions have successfully exploited a legal loophole in Ontario’s outdated labour laws to set up union monopolies that inflate costs and deny qualified contractors the right to work on infrastructure projects, including those funded by all three levels of government,” Harris told the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on May 23.

“Canadians are willing to pay their fair share, but they don’t want to see their taxes rise simply because the government allows certain unions to restrict open competition. That’s why I am calling for legislative change at the provincial level and for an open dialogue with all levels of government to determine what reasonable conditions can be put in place to guarantee fair and open competition.”

Harris tabled Bill 73, the Fair and Open Tendering Act, last week at Queen’s Park. This bill, if passed, would prevent municipalities and school boards from becoming trapped in labour monopolies by exempting them from the construction-sector provisions in the Labour Relations Act that were designed and intended only for construction companies.

Harris pointed out to committee members that the Ontario Liberal government has known about the growing problem with closed tendering in the province and suggested that the federal government may need to force the premier to make needed changes.

“If history is any indication of the future, I’m sure the province will need an incentive to act. That’s where the federal government could come in,” Harris said. “To ensure all workers regardless of union affiliation have the right to work on publicly funded projects, the federal government could require that transfer payments for infrastructure be subject to open tendering.”

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