December 13, 2017
MPP Harris hopeful landmark vote provides local opportunities to support fair tendering
Kitchener – Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris hopes a ground-breaking decision by Sault Ste. Marie Council to pursue measures that cut through costly tendering restrictions on municipalities will provide local opportunities to offer support while addressing similar restrictions in Waterloo Region.
“Clearly the move by Sault council to take precise measures addressing restrictions that prevent fair and open tendering was a bold step in the right direction,” Harris said. “Building on the successful multi-year process that saw the Greater Essex School Board remove tendering restrictions brought on by the same public sector employer certification loopholes, I’m hopeful the Sault efforts deliver similar positive results as well as opportunities for our equally-restricted local municipalities to address costs to our local taxpayers.”
The Sault Ste. Marie decision saw councillors vote 12-1 earlier this week to have city staff plan a budget that includes changes to the city’s practices not to accept revenue to achieve the “non-construction employer” designation required to avoid certification restrictions currently in place in Toronto, Hamilton and Waterloo Region – as well as Sault Ste. Marie.
The successful resolution referenced potential three-year short-term revenue losses while also pointing to savings of up to $15,000,000 should the municipality achieve designation as a “non-construction employer”.
“Clearly we all understand that a municipality is not a construction company and yet we’ve all seen locally the impact of these same tendering restrictions on our Region; reducing the number of bidders on projects and shutting out local workers while increasing the number of contractors to do public work from outside of our Region,” Harris added. “It’s not rocket science…the fewer bidders, the less competition and the more the price goes up to local taxpayers, while our local workers have the door shut on local jobs.”
A recent Kitchener Post article, Region’s restricted bidding continues to drive up costs indicates that, since certification (2014), Waterloo Region has seen its pool of bidders for infrastructure go down from 91 to only 15. The report notes further that, “closed tendering affects $1 billion worth of work each year in Ontario and drives up the cost of infrastructure projects in Waterloo Region by as much as 30 per cent.”