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Western roadbuilders write to Prairie premiers on local preference

The Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association has called upon the three Prairie premiers to take a stand for open flow of construction, in keeping with internal trade agreements.

The WCR&HCA sent a letter on June 2, 2020, to the premiers of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, asking all three leaders to confirm their governments’ support for and adherence to the terms of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, which requires the unfettered movement of goods, services and labour across provincial borders.

The WCR&HCA’s letter is in response to the appearance of local preference clauses within construction project tender and contract documents issued by the government of Saskatchewan.

Local preference clauses, which require bidders to employ local workers on construction projects, effectively bar out-of-province companies from winning tenders. Saskatchewan has also included steep penalties for construction companies that fail to meet the employment thresholds at their publicly procured project worksites.

“These heavily favour Saskatchewan resident companies which employ local employees and materially penalize bidders with non-Saskatchewan resident workforces,” the letter says. “The use of such local preference clauses directly reduces the ability of extra-provincial businesses to bid competitively and be awarded contracts.

“In contrast, Saskatchewan contractors have an unfettered right to bid work (and do) in Alberta and Manitoba, unimpeded by local-preference provisions. This offends the NWPTA.”

The province justifies the use of such clauses to help the economies of Saskatchewan communities recover from the business shutdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to read the full letter.

The WCR&HCA is awaiting reply from all the governments.

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