Groups critical of Ontario-Quebec pact

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June 5, 2006
Groups critical of Ontario-Quebec pact

PETER KENTER correspondent
TORONTO

Stakeholders aren’t thrilled about a labour pact which was to be announced by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest in Ottawa June 3.
It’s difficult for Ontario construction workers to be employed in Quebec because that province’s government has imposed barriers to keep them out.
Ontario workers can meet union membership requirements to work in Quebec, but quotas limit the number of cards available to authorize out-of-province workers to commence work.
It’s estimated that about 6,000 Quebec construction workers are employed in the Ottawa area, with thousands more employed elsewhere in Ontario.
2006-05-19joscelyn-dumais_nJocelyn Dumais, president of the Association for the Right to Work in Ottawa, says he isn’t holding his breath to see improvements for Ontario workers.
“This announcement is not going to solve the issue. Quebec labour laws must be modified first, and unless they announce that, the barriers to Ontario workers will still be up.”
Dumais expects an agreement “slightly better” than one between New Brunswick and Quebec, in which N.B.’s construction workers are shut out of Quebec.
Clive Thurston-OGCAjpg« We would dearly have loved to have been able to comment.”
Clive Thurston – OGCA
“The premiers will both be singing a song and hope that people will pay attention, but they have nothing serious to say,” Dumais told Daily Commercial News last Thursday. “I’m already looking for a violin to accompany their song — and I don’t play well. This issue will only be resolved when Quebec changes its labour laws.”

Organized labour groups are also expected to be disappointed.

“I had an opportunity to view the agreement six months ago and I can say that the overall sentiment of the Ontario Building Trades is that it needs a lot of improvement and there are no real gains in it for us,” says James Barry, financial secretary and business manager with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 586, Ottawa. “I would say this is going to make Quebec extremely happy and ultimately do nothing to help Ontarians.”

Barry says the IBEW gives McGuinty’s government credit for making positive efforts to enforce the Ontario Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act.

“But Quebec workers will be exempt from registration when they work in Ontario, though an Ontario worker will still have to register to work in Quebec,” he says. “We have nothing against Quebec workers coming here, but we don’t support making them exempt from provincial license requirements.

“This is just one of about 45 interprovincial agreements they’ll be announcing and it looks like something they just threw in there without listening to the stakeholders.”
Among the groups not consulted: the Council of Ontario Construction Associations and the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA).
“We would dearly have loved to have been able to comment on this agreement,” says Clive Thurston, president of the OGCA.

“This issue is very, very important to many of our members, particularly in the Ottawa area, but we weren’t consulted.”

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Labour reforms would fix our worker shortage

Financialpost

Labour reforms would fix our worker shortage

* * * * Diane Francis, Financial Post DFrancis
Published: Friday, June 23, 2006
Canada’s labour situation is worsening because needed reforms elude and the
politicians don’t get it.
For instance, Gatineau, Que., contractor Jocelyn Dumais has been fighting the
province’s closed-shop labour laws for years and he called recently with some
upsetting news.
The McGuinty government in Ontario last month backed off a piece of legislation
that was designed to force Quebec to level the playing field in the construction
industry. For decades, Quebec has forbidden non-resident Canadians from taking
construction jobs while Quebecers have been free to work anywhere in the
country.
Notably, they swamped the labour markets along the borders between the two
provinces until the Mike Harris government passed Bill 17 which forbid them from
working in Ontario until Quebec backed off its restrictions.
"Last month, the Ontario government cancelled Bill 17, which forbid Quebec
construction workers from getting employment in Ontario unless Quebec changed
its unfair labour law, Dumais said.
"They call it a shared labour mobility agreement, but it’s a fake. The Ontario
government tried to get me to support this but it’s not what we’ve been fighting
for.
Here’s what they said they got in exchange: Ontario workers may apply to work
there but there were many restrictions. They had to pass an exam, provide
certain evidence of experience and had to already be working in Quebec. That’s
not labour mobility.
Ontario added that Quebec agreed to let Ontario residents accept construction
jobs involving Hydro Quebec contracts, but only if the salaries were $100,000 or
more. That was just an exemption for big contracting companies like Ellis Don,"
Dumais said.
Dumais is one of my favourite Canadians and is founder of the Association for
the Right to Work (www.adat.ca). For years, he has lobbied provinces, staged
road blockages and raised hundreds of thousands to mount a Supreme Court of
Canada case which, unfortunately, he lost.
(His charter challenge argued that if workers have the right to associate they
also should have the right to not associate. The Court disagreed.)
But he has not given up and hopes to reverse this unfair deal. He also wants to
warn Ontario that the McGuinty government is looking at closed-door laws similar
to Quebec’s because of all the illegals and non-union members working in the
province.
By the way, Quebec’s unions run the show there and their construction sector is
embarrassingly restrictive: Workers must be union members or obtain a special
work permit from the Province which are about as readily available as Green
cards. People are routinely rounded up on sites for the crime of working
illegally, fined and even jailed.
Another voice of reason Meanwhile, the labour situation worsens nationally as
the giant sucking sound from Alberta’s megaprojects continues apace and unions
stand in the way of labour mobility through featherbedding and apprenticeship
restrictions.
What follows is a thoughtful letter from union member John Gilmurray:
The real problem with labour policy in Canada is the union. On a
recent visit to England and Ireland I was surprised that there are no locals,
just one trade union congress for each country.

Ontario, Quebec look for progress on labour mobility

Ontario, Quebec look for progress on labour mobility

April Lindgren, CanWest News Service Published: Thursday, June 01, 2006 Article tools * Printer friendly * E-mail Font: * * * * * * * *

TORONTO – The premiers of Ontario and Quebec may meet as early as this Friday in Ottawa to sign an interprovincial co-operation agreement that includes some modest progress toward solving the simmering dispute between the two provinces over the free movement of construction workers.

« This has been a long-standing issue and Premier (Dalton) McGuinty has been looking for a fair deal for both sides and one that would include increased access to Quebec for Ontario workers, » an Ontario official said Wednesday. « What both sides are looking for is an agreement that shows Ontario and Quebec can work together and deliver positive results. « Discussions are ongoing but an announcement could come soon. » Ontario has complained for years that Quebec labour laws make it difficult for Ontario construction workers to cross from Ottawa to the Outaouais to work.

At the same time, local estimates suggest up to 6,000 Quebec construction workers are employed in the Ottawa area while thousands more are spread out in jobs across Ontario.

Jocelyn Dumais, president of the Ottawa-based Association for the Right to Work, cautioned against expecting too much from Friday’s announcement. « I don’t have great expectations of what they are going to be signing because as far as I know, it is similar to what was signed last month between Quebec and New Brunswick, » he said. « There will be a little bit more in it, but the issue is not going to be solved. »

Dumais said that Quebec needs to modify its labour law for the mobility issue to be settled. « The law says that anyone who wants to work in the construction industry must belong to one of the five unions. Anyone can join the unions, but there are quotas on the number of cards available. If unemployment, for instance, is more than four per cent in a region, they don’t issue cards for that area. « There’s nothing on the agenda of the national assembly in Quebec that gives a sign that this law will be changed. » McGuinty and Quebec’s Jean Charest were among the premiers meeting in Gimli, Man., Wednesday to discuss North American issues.

Last month, Charest was in Moncton, N.B., with Premier Bernard Lord to sign a wide- ranging co-operation agreement that touched on two dozen issues, including tourism and trade. Although New Brunswick has also complained that its construction workers are shut out of Quebec, the accord only briefly mentioned the issue of labour mobility, stating that the two sides will try to facilitate the freer movement of workers « to the fullest extent possible. » © CanWest News Service 2006

2006 Ontario/Quebec labour mobility  »Agreement or status quo  » ?

2006 Ontario/Quebec labour mobility  »Agreement or status quo  » ?

ADAT-Jocelyn Dumais- 12 May 2006

On June 2 the Premier of Ontario and Québec met in Ottawa (Chateau Laurier) to sign what they called  » An historic Agreement  » that would put and end to a long standing dispute on labour mobility. For years Ontario constructions workers, wishing to work in the Province of Quebec, complain the unfairness of the Quebec regime and demand that they be treated under the same rules that Quebec workers have when coming to work in Ontario. (See historic of dispute)

The Barrier
The long standing dispute was about the regime imposed by the Quebec construction Law.
Rules such as
1. Forced unionisation ( A case that our organisation lost in Supreme Court by one vote  » Advance cutting & coring )
2. Quotas impose on number of card issued base on the rate of unemployment (under 4%). for every trade
3. Limit within the Province for work access.
4. School requirement often unrealistic for the industry standard.

Those rules, unique to Quebec, make it really difficult even impossible for those outside the Province who oppose forced unionisation, to work in that Province.
Without a change in the Quebec construction labour Law, we cannot say that the barrier has been abolished.

What Ontario gave up?
1. The Ontario mirror law is abolished completely  » Fairness is a two way street » that made access for Quebec resident, just as restrictive Ontario construction site as is was for Ontarian wishing to work in Quebec.
2. Gave access to Quebec companies the right to bid on Ontario Hydro lucrative contract ( 42Billion$ ) without limit on amount on contract.
3. Quebec resident will be permit again to work freely in Ontario without restriction.

What Ontario gain ?? Almost nothing:
1. The Quebec labour Law remains unchanged. Ontario resident wishing to work in Quebec will have their experience evaluate by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (Ontario) in their locality and will be issue a card by the Job Protection Office in Ottawa (Those from northern Ontario or Toronto will have to come to get this card ion Ottawa) and then go to the nearest CCQ office in Quebec to choose the union that they must sign in before they ca start working on a construction site (Quebec).
2. Ontario companies will have access to bidding on Quebec Hydro for contracts over 100,000$. Only in the Outaouais, Ontario companies will have full access to bidding Quebec Hydro contracts.

The barrier remain and Quebec resident and construction companies have more access to Ontario jobs than ever before.

Well …, this  » Historic Agreement » is the official acceptance by Dalton MacGuinty that Ontario residents should accept to submit to the union regime in the construction industry in Quebec and that Quebec resident should be welcome in freedom land of Ontario, without restriction. (Copy of Agreement)

New Brunswick and Quebec premiers promise to address labour mobility issue

2006-04-19JournalCPN
New Brunswick and Quebec premiers promise to address labour mobility issue 2006-04-18lord-bernard-entente_n
CHRIS MORRIS

MONCTON, N.B. (CP) – Quebec Premier Jean Charest and New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord say they are committed to reducing barriers to labour mobility between their provinces and throughout Canada.

The two premiers signed a wide-ranging co-operation agreement Tuesday designed to bring the two provinces closer together in terms of sharing expertise, research and services.

But on the difficult issue of labour mobility, the agreement has just one line stating the two provinces will do what they can to facilitate the freer movement of workers « to the fullest extent possible. »

The issue of labour mobility is a political sore point in New Brunswick, where construction workers and companies have found it difficult to get jobs and contracts in Quebec.

Quebec workers face no such impediments to their employment in New Brunswick.

The premiers said that although the language in their latest agreement is vague, their intentions are to make the situation better.

« The agreement declares the commitment of both governments to do it, and it’s very specific in the sense that it commits the governments to reducing barriers instead of building barriers, » Lord said.

Both Lord and Charest said the problem does not appear to be as alarming as some have suggested.

Charest said there were only two complaints from New Brunswickers last year about barriers to their employment in Quebec. They were dealt with and resolved, he added.

« We take it very seriously, » Charest said. « It is in our common interest that there be as much mobility as possible between our jurisdictions. »

Lord said there are barriers throughout Canada to trade and the movement of people. He said premiers are looking at ways to free the movement of goods, services and people across the country.

Shawn Graham, New Brunswick’s Liberal leader, accused Lord of being soft on Quebec when it comes to the labour mobility issue.

Graham is planning to introduce a proposed construction labour mobility act once the legislatue resumes after the Easter break.

He said Lord needs to be more forceful with Quebec to correct the labour imbalance. « Fairness is a two-way street, » Graham said.

He said the proposed bill is similar to legislation adopted in Ontario to deal with the problem of unfair competition from Quebec-based firms in that province.

Lord said Quebec is New Brunswick’s biggest trading partner within Canada.
He said the province exports more goods and services to Quebec than it does to the other three Atlantic provinces combined.

Lord said the labour mobility problem can be handled on a case-by-case basis while systemic changes are considered. He said there is no reason to get tough with Quebec.
« Unfortunately, some people want to make political gains by Quebec-bashing and it’s not needed, » he said.

Both Lord and Charest gave luncheon speeches to a Moncton development group, indicating cautious optimism about the future of federalism in Canada.

The premiers, who are both expected to face provincial elections within a year, said they are hopeful Ottawa and the provinces will be able to hammer out an agreement that will correct the fiscal imbalance and give the provinces more cash to provide services.