FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HAMILTON, ON – The Region of Waterloo saved at least 14 percent in municipal construction costs since removing restrictions that severely limited the number of bidders for infrastructure construction contracts. That represents an estimated savings of $24-million over two years, according to Bouncing Back Through Diversity: The Effects of Bill 66 on Construction Competition in the Region of Waterloo, a new report from think tank Cardus. At the same time, the average number of bidders for the Region’s construction projects grew by 50 percent to reach 5.5 bidders per contract. This allowed a more diverse set of firms and workers to access contracts.
Bouncing Back Through Diversity fills in the picture of what happened in the Region of Waterloo since July 2019, following the passage of Bill 66 in the Ontario legislature. The bill redefined municipalities in a way that allowed them to return to fair, open, and competitive bidding for public projects, opening them to all qualified firms, regardless of the affiliations of their workers. Previous practices had disqualified 93 percent of potential contractors in the Region, leaving work in the hands of a very small pool of bidders.
“The estimated $24-million in savings is equal to the combined cost of the Galt Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades along with several other smaller jobs,” says Brian Dijkema, Vice President of External Affairs at Cardus and the author of the report. “We’ve seen similar results in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie, which also adopted fair and open contract bidding on their infrastructure projects. Among Ontario cities, Toronto is the outlier in continuing to restrict bids to a small group of contractors, forcing residents to pay more while getting less.”
As Ontario continues to grow and municipal infrastructure needs increase, jurisdictions with fair, open, and competitive contract bidding will be able to afford more infrastructure for their dollars.
Bouncing Back Through Diversity: The Effects of Bill 66 on Construction Competition in the Region of Waterloo is freely available online.