Anti-labour Bill 66 quashed by Toronto

di Joe Volpe del 16 July 2019

TORONTO - Unless you were an interested party, say a unionized worker in the Skilled Trades sector, a general contractor or an Executive Member of one of several provincial or national trade Unions, you might not have followed the fate of Ontario’s Bill 66.

The Corriere would be one of those who had only a passing interest. Wrongly, I must admit. Thanks to Don Wall of the Daily Commercial News who reported on Bill 66 from when it was approved by a vote in the Legislature on April 3rd, we can fill in some the gaps.

Bill 66, titled the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, rescinded the status of Toronto, Hamilton and a number of other municipalities and other governing bodies as construction employers under the Ontario Relations Act, as reported by Don Wall in the online industry publication on June 26.

Probably in response to aggressive lobbying by the affected workers and their Unions, the Government inserted a provision making it obligatory for the municipalities and bodies targeted to hold a vote (presumably post-consultation) confirming compliance or indicating that they would “opt out”, that is, they would continue to be construction employers under the Act.

Construction employers are bound to grant contracts in the Industrial, Commercial, Institutional sector (ICI) to general contractors employing unionized electricians, carpenters, plumbers, painters, glaziers, bricklayers, sheet metal workers, asbestos workers and ironworkers. The now former College of Trades was in part responsible for validating the certifications of tradespeople.

Bids were/are restricted to those who do not fit into this special unionized status. From one perspective, with Bill 66, the government was attempting to drive the bargaining process downward, produce cost savings for municipalities and open the bidding process, potentially to out of province and out of country construction companies.

The affected cities in the GTHA, according to the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS*) – which in turn assembled figures reliant on Stats Canada figures – allocated $3.283150 billion on ICI in the last quarter of 2017 (October 2017 - January 2018) alone. These are updated annually. Those figures available for 2018, so far, reflect the trimester reports reflected in the graphic.

The City of Toronto is responsible for 77.2% of that total (the others: Barrie, Guelph, Kitchener- Waterloo-Cambridge, Hamilton, St. Catherine’s, Niagara, Oshawa) together make up the balance. Clearly Toronto’s vote was a big coup for the nine unions and their members. The city is now the only construction employer remaining among large public entities.

The membership of the nine unions will undoubtedly be happy that their special status has been preserved. One imagines that LIUNA which was accorded the opportunity to make the case for inclusion according to a so-called Toronto Arrangement (LIUNA can apply to be a part of that special group) put forward by Carpenters Local 27 must also be happy with the vote for now.

Don Wall also found discordant notes, understandably. The Merit Open Shop Contractors Association of Ontario, and the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada are two.

The Carpenters represent thousands of active and retired Italian- Canadians among its 25,000 work-force, provincially, is happy. Don Wall credits Local 27 for brokering the Toronto Arrangement. Their president, Mike Yorke, wrote the Corriere to explain their position. We reprint an edited version below in both Italian and English (in this site too).

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