Bradford: Tendering For Taxpayers To Build An Affordable City


For immediate release: May 16, 2023

TORONTO – Today in Toronto, city policy limits who can bid on construction projects to build and maintain our city infrastructure. This closed tendering process is bad for taxpayers, bad for accountability, and bad for the city budget. 

As Mayor, Brad Bradford will implement open tendering for taxpayers that will save the city at least $200 million annually and expand our capacity to get projects done faster.

Open tendering for Toronto’s municipal projects will:

  • Expand capacity to get projects built faster.
  • Save over $200 million annually.
  • Help close the budget gap to help keep taxes low and build an affordable city.

“Open tendering for taxpayers will do more than just save money,” said Brad Bradford. “This is about being a responsible manager of your tax dollars, getting better value for the money City Hall spends, and maximizing the ability to build the city we all want.”

This is real leadership that says yes and welcomes more people to the table to get shovels in the ground. Open tendering for taxpayers will build the city we all want and ensure the municipal services we all rely on are there.

The fiscal reality at City Hall has changed and we need leadership to get the city’s finances in order and help build an affordable city.

Brad Bradford’s plan for open tendering for taxpayers is widely supported:

“PCA strongly supports this policy announcement. It’s about time all experienced contractors and their workers had the chance to bid and build city projects that their tax dollars help fund. Construction competition encourages multiple bids. It encourages contractors to innovate. That lowers construction costs and provides good public value on infrastructure projects; something Toronto taxpayers have been missing out on for far too long.”

-Stephen Hamilton
Director of Public Affairs (Ontario), Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA)

"Merit Ontario welcomes the announcement from Mayoral candidate Brad Bradford to create a more competitive tendering process at the City of Toronto. This will ensure residents of Toronto are both eligible to work on these projects and benefit from the significant cost savings. According to some estimates, Toronto taxpayers will save 10%-40% on construction projects which will mean more schools, more roads, and more affordable housing for Toronto."

-Michael Gallardo
President and CEO, Merit Ontario

“CLAC applauds Brad Bradford for today’s announced plan to fix construction procurement in the City of Toronto. In 2019, the province offered Ontario municipalities like Toronto, an opportunity to shed historic, costly, unfair and unnecessary construction tendering restrictions. Toronto was the only city to pass on that opportunity, and in doing so it elected for continued high-cost construction that restricts work opportunities on such projects to a select number of unions. Brad Bradford offers a bold, forward-looking solution that would enable all qualified workers the opportunity to work on City construction projects, regardless of whether they belong to the right union. Most importantly, this solution will, like was achieved in Hamilton, Sault St. Marie and the Region of Waterloo in 2019, save Toronto hundreds of millions of dollars annually in unnecessary construction costs.”

-Ian DeWaard, Ontario Director for CLAC
CLAC is an independent union that represents more than 60,000 workers in Canada.

Backgrounder: Brad Bradford’s plan for fair and open tendering that benefits taxpayers

As Mayor, Brad Bradford will fix Toronto’s anti-competitive construction contracts to land real savings for taxpayers. This will save the City of Toronto budget over $200 million annually. 

Currently, Toronto is bound to nine province-wide collective agreements in the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) sector of the construction industry. This means that all construction work that is tendered by the City in the ICI sector – from TCHC housing repairs to new libraries – can only be bid on and awarded to contractors that are affiliated with those unions.  

When the Province made changes to the Labour Relations Act in 2019, it allowed municipalities to end these agreements so they would be able to receive bids from all contractors.  When this happened, every other municipality except Toronto that had those closed agreements chose open competition so all contractors can bid on the work, rather than a more costly system with fewer bidders. 

The City of Toronto continues to maintain a closed system of tendering for construction. And no other municipality in Ontario currently has a closed procurement system. As a result, the capital budget is increasing exponentially and the state of infrastructure across the City has never been worse. 

As Mayor, Brad Bradford will inject competition into procurement so that Toronto can get the best value for money, while building world-class infrastructure. He will call on the Province to reopen the opportunity created by the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act so Toronto can join every other municipality in Ontario as a non-construction employer.  

Brad Bradford’s plan to embrace fair open tendering achieves three main benefits:

Substantial savings for Toronto’s budget. Every municipality that has gone from closed to open tendering has seen significant reductions in their capital budget. A 2021 report found that the Region of Waterloo and Hamilton demonstrated savings of between 14% and 21% for construction contracts under a more competitive open tendering system. 

More opportunities for workers. With labour shortages at historic levels, Toronto’s current closed system makes the challenge worse by only allowing workers in select unions to participate on city-run construction projects. Opening the system would increase the pool of contractors who are able to bid, improving competition and providing more opportunities for workers.

Continued high standards for safety and wages. Brad would maintain Toronto’s Fair Wage Office and Policy to ensure that workers will still be paid about the same as they currently are. Brad will also maintain the city’s Certificate of Recognition (COR) certification to ensure that only the safest contractors can bid and work on City of Toronto construction sites.

Brad Bradford will be the mayor of action Toronto needs. He understands the challenges the city is facing because his young family lives them every day. As Mayor, Brad will use every tool of that office to deliver results for the city. 

Media Contact

Stephanie Smyth • 416.561.0837