December 7, 2018 7:40 am

MPP Skelly touts ‘big savings’ for Hamilton

The province has introduced legislation that would deem Hamilton a non-construction employer, possibly signalling big savings for city taxpayers.

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Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly calls it a “very big deal” for the City of Hamilton.

The Progressive Conservative government has introduced legislation which she predicts will save the city and its taxpayers “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the years ahead.

The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act would amend the Labour Relations Act by explicitly deeming public bodies, including municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities, to be “non-construction” employers.

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Hamilton is currently bound to collective agreements with a specific union for municipal projects, something that Skelly says has “restricted bidding and driven up costs.”

Skelly says the city “can now ask for more competitive bidding on any project that it tenders,” leading her to predict “substantial savings for taxpayers.”

She is hopeful that a stalled project in her own riding of Flamborough-Glanbrook could be among the first to benefit from the change.

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The City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board had been planning to build a joint facility, including a new elementary school, library and community centre, in Greensville.

That project is currently on hold, however, after tenders came back 55 per cent over budget.

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Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, was introduced on Thursday at Queen’s Park.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger welcomes the announcement as a “very positive step.”

He says the city has been asking for several years to be classified as a non-construction employer.

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