Merit Canada recommends that policy makers:
- Maintain open, fair and transparent procurement processes based on achieving the best value at lowest reasonable cost for taxpayers without preference to non-union, non-affiliated union or building trades union contractors.
Fairness in government procurement policy is a key touchstone in the construction sector generally, and for Merit Canada in particular.
Governments – federal and provincial — should adopt procurement models that are open to all contractors regardless of whether companies and their workers are non-union, non-affiliated (wall-to-wall) union, or members of traditional (craft) building trades unions.
Fundamentally, both levels of government should seek the best value at the lowest reasonable cost for public sector infrastructure procurement.
Federal policy makers should not follow the path, for example, of the fledgling building trades union-only requirements in the Government of British Columbia’s deeply flawed and likely illegal Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) framework which is currently being challenged in BC Supreme Court.
In 2018, the BC NDP Government mandated that anyone working on a provincial government construction project be forced to join one of the government-approved building trades unions.
Progressive unions and non-union contractors representing 85% of the province’s 250,000 men women in construction are shut out – gone is fair, open and transparent procurement on public infrastructure projects. This model must not be adopted by federal policy makers.
According to an analysis done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, with British Columbia planning to spend $25.6 billion on infrastructure over the next three years, the building trades union-only hiring model could cost taxpayers as much as $4.8 billion more, or nearly $4,000 for every family in the province.
Where applied, the BC CBA framework has already led to significant cost escalations, project descoping to stay within budget, and qualified bidders are choosing not to bid projects because of significant financial and human resource risks to their businesses.
Merit Canada strongly believes that cutting backroom deals with the building trades unions to give them a monopoly on government projects hurts workers, construction contractors and costs taxpayers more money. And more people are trained in the construction trades by being inclusive, by investing in more training spaces, and by working with construction contractors who train workers on construction projects in every community across the country every day.