Policy Update: Bill 66

· by Bianca Caramento

Today, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019, brought forward by the Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Specifically as it relates to open tendering in particular, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is ecstatic to see that the Ford government has amended the Labour Relations Act to explicitly deem public bodies, including municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities, as “non-construction employers.” Restoring competitive bidding on local construction projects should result in significant cost savings to the City of Hamilton.

For many years, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has been working through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, with partner chambers in the communities across the province that have also been impacted by closed tendering, to encourage the province to amend the Ontario Labour Relations Act to enable fair and open tendering for public infrastructure projects.

Up to this point, the Labour Relations Act has prevented some municipalities from competitively tendering and procuring construction projects. As a result, up to 70 percent of the construction industry has been unable to compete for work on publicly owned and publicly funded projects, inflating construction costs in Hamilton by as much as 30 percent.

“It has been clearly demonstrated that closed tendering stifles competition and often results in unnecessarily high infrastructure costs. We have seen these costs reflected in contracts awarded across the City of Hamilton. This legislative change will provide an equal playing field for every business and union participating in the tendering process, while also respecting the allocation of hard-earned tax dollars in government procurement.” – Keanin Loomis, President and CEO, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

Bill 66 establishes open tendering as the default in all communities across the province, but includes a procedure to opt out of these new rules within the next three months. To ensure Hamilton reaps the benefits of a fair, open procurement process, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce recommends that no further action be taken by the City of Hamilton.

For more information, please contact: Bianca Caramento | Policy Analyst | Hamilton Chamber of Commerce | t: 905-522-1151 ext: 230 | e: b.caramento@hamiltonchamber.ca