Provincial Government Can Help Solve Toronto's School and Public Housing Repair Backlog



July 19, 2018

Hamilton, ON – If the new Ontario government eliminated the practice of restricting bidding on construction projects based on union affiliation, the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Community Housing Corporation would stand to gain billions of dollars. According to the new Cardus report, Skimming off the Top: How Closed Tendering Weakens our Ability to Pursue the Public Good, restricted bidding based on union affiliation adds up to 25 percent to project construction costs and reduces the pool of bidders by 84 percent. With bidding on TDSB and TCHC construction contracts limited to firms affiliated with a subset of building trades unions, the research suggests both organizations are overpaying significantly as they seek to chip away at their $4 billion and $2.6 billion repair bills over the next decade.

“With fair and open bidding for construction projects, the TDSB could find school repairs up to $1.8 billion more affordable,” says Skimming off the Top author Brian Dijkema. “Similarly, the TCHC could find housing repairs $560 million more affordable without asking taxpayers for a penny more.”

The Ontario government could help both the TDSB and TCHC by moving to eliminate the outdated provisions of the Labour Relations Act, which allow them to restrict bidding based on union affiliation. Dijkema notes, the provisions of the Act are fundamentally unfair.

“To disqualify a firm whose workers have made a choice to join one union or another is completely contrary to the purpose of government, whose job it is to rule for all, and which has a constitutional obligation not to discriminate against people for exercising their rights,” Dijkema says in Skimming off the Top.

To access Skimming off the Top, click here.



Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus - Director of Communications

Office: 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.