Ontario Cities Shortchanged by Outdated Labour Laws


New report: Close to $2.5 billion in municipal construction contracts not subject to fair and open bidding


September 26, 2018

HAMILTON – A new report finds outdated Ontario labour laws are now sheltering almost $2.5 billion worth of publicly funded municipal infrastructure work from fair and open competition. That is over three times more than the $750 million worth of work blocked from competitive bidding in 2012 – prior to the start of many major projects since then and the addition of the Region of Waterloo to Ontario’s closed jurisdictions. The findings appear in the newly published Shortchanging Ontario Cities: A Cardus Competitiveness Monitor Update. 

“Ontario cities need enormous help in getting infrastructure built, which only becomes more expensive without fair and open bidding for construction contracts,” says Brian Dijkema at think tank Cardus. “With fair and open bidding, projects in Toronto, Hamilton, Waterloo Region, and Sault Ste. Marie would save taxpayers more than $370 million – and that’s just taking the median estimate of how badly inflated construction prices are because of an outdated provision of the Ontario Labour Relations Act.”

 Estimated Costs of Projects Sheltered from Fair and Open Bidding in Ontario

City of Toronto


Region of Waterloo


City of Hamilton


City of Sault Ste. Marie


Toronto District School Board



Gross Total



Estimated 15% savings from open bidding


The research is clear. Residents of Toronto, Hamilton, Waterloo Region, and Sault Ste. Marie would be able to afford much more infrastructure if the province brought outdated labour laws in compliance with Ontario’s own procurement directives, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development best practices, and procurement expert recommendations.

“The longer outdated laws are on the books, the longer Ontario cities will be shortchanged,” said Dijkema.

To book an interview with Brian Dijkema, please, contact Daniel Proussalidis.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus - Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.