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


Roofer’s contested $1,000 fine 2008-02-23


Roofer’s contested $1,000 fine raises labour-mobility questions
The Ottawa Citizen News 2008-02-23
Dave Rogers
Orléans man flagged for working on friend’s house in Gatineau

When Glenn McNamara did a roofing job for an Aylmer friend in July 2004, someone spotted the Ontario plates on his truck and informed Quebec authorities that there was an unlicensed roofer in town.

Four years later, Mr. McNamara, 52, who has been working as a roofer for 30 years, faces a $1,000 fine for operating a construction business in Quebec without a permit, even though he has never appeared in court.

Jocelyn Dumais, president of the Association pour le droit au travail, a right-to-work group, said Ontario construction workers and contractors are still being harassed and charged with breaking Quebec law despite the interprovincial agreement.

« I hoped that the political agreement on labour mobility two years ago would bring some common sense to the Quebec government, but they are still fining people, » Mr. Dumais said.

« None of the differences between the two provinces have been resolved.

« The agreement said it would make it easier for workers to obtain cards, but people are still being charged. There really is no mobility of labour because this is the only province that has such restrictive labour laws. »2008-02-23

Mr. McNamara, who lives in Orléans, said a 2006 agreement between Ontario and Quebec was supposed to resolve a decades-old dispute about labour mobility, but the deal isn’t working.

Glenn McNamara is a roofer who was charged and found guilty of violating Quebec construction law when he worked on a friend’s roof in Aylmer. Mr. McNamara said he wrote the Quebec government saying ‘it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs’ between himself and his friend.View Larger Image View Larger Image

Glenn McNamara is a roofer who was charged and found guilty of violating Quebec construction law when he worked on a friend’s roof in Aylmer. Mr. McNamara said he wrote the Quebec government saying ‘it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs’ between himself and his friend.Chris Mikula,

The agreement was intended to make it easier for Ontario and Quebec construction workers to work in each other’s provinces.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said in 2006 that the dispute had been « a thorn in the relationship of our two provinces for too long » and promised the interprovincial agreement would end the cross-border construction wars.

Mr. McNamara said he should never have been charged in August 2005 because he was helping his friend, Dan Cooper, and not operating a business. He said the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, which regulates the province’s construction industry, threatened to charge Mr. Cooper for allowing an unlicensed tradesman to work on his house.

« I wrote the Quebec government saying it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs between Dan and myself, » Mr. McNamara said.
« The notice to appear in court did not arrive at my house because it got lost in the mail or was sent to the wrong address, so I did not appear in court. »
Mr. McNamara was on vacation in December 2006 when the case came to court; he was found guilty in absentia.

« Last year, I got a notice from a collection agency saying I owed them $1,000. I told them what I thought of the process and they sent the matter back to Quebec City. » Mr. McNamara said he won’t pay the fine because a second trial has been set for March when he will be on vacation in Nicaragua.

Marjolaine Veillette, a spokeswoman for the Régie du bâtiment, said an Ontario contractor repairing a friend’s house in Quebec still requires a licence, which costs $616. Contractors face fines of $700 to $1,400 if they are caught working without a licence to prove their competence.
Contractors must prove they have been registered with Ontario’s new home warranty program for at least three years, have more than five years of experience and have been registered with the Ontario government for at least five years.

Individual construction workers can pay the Commission de la construction du Québec $10 to have their competency certificates from Ontario registered in Quebec.

Commission spokesman André Martin said Quebec has registered more than 1,600 out-of-province construction workers since 2006. © The Ottawa Citizen 2008

M. Jason Kenney (Calgary-Sud-Est, Alliance canadienne)


Le jeudi 21 février 2002

M. Jason Kenney (Calgary-Sud-Est, Alliance canadienne)

Mr. Speaker, because of unfair labour restrictions that prohibit Ontario construction workers from doing jobs in Quebec, the Ontario government has re-enacted its fairness is a two way street law which will impose similar restrictions on Quebec firms.

This is the madness of internal protectionism, one of the reasons that Canada’s standard of living and productivity are in decline. When provincial governments erect barriers to the free flow of goods and services like the construction trade in Quebec, we all lose.

This internal trade war is happening because the federal government has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to ensure domestic free trade and has failed to act on the 1994 agreement on internal trade. [Translation]

Unfortunately, this government is sitting on the sidelines, while Ontario and Quebec have a dispute over manpower mobility. The Association pour le droit au travail is concerned about the future of tradesmen and is asking for help.

I urge this government to play a leading role to ensure true free trade between the provinces.