The Low-Down on Construction – April 17, 2019

Last week during Question Period in the Legislature, Ryan Meili, the leader of the NDP, pushed the government to renege on its commitment to keep public procurement open to all workers and contractors in Saskatchewan, by moving to so-called “community benefit agreements” (CBAs)

While the positive-sounding name of these agreements seem benign, the reality is that they usually result in closed tendering requiring that only unionized labor is used on public projects, freezing out up to 85% of Saskatchewan workers & contractors.

Not only does this mean that projects typically cost taxpayers more money, and they typically take longer to complete, but it is also an issue that we all understand – it’s about fairness.

By forcing public procurement to use only unionized companies open shop contractors are often prevented from even bidding on projects.   It forces open shop workers and contractors into joining organizations against their wishes, unfairly penalizing them for personal decisions unrelated to the quality of their work. This is unfair to thousands of local open-shop workers & contractors.

MERIT Saskatchewan has taken a firm stand, and has written on this issue many times in the past, here, here, and here. We have been clear that public procurement and public projects should be open to ALL qualified bidders, whether they are open-shop or unionized. But CBAs are a backdoor way to tip the scales in favour of unionized contractors.

We will continue to fight to ensure that public procurement and public projects remain open to all qualified bidders. It’s the right thing for the province, and it’s the right thing for our members.