Building Confidence in Canada


Growing National Prosperity

Decision 2019

Throughout Canada, 1.4 million men and women get up each morning, put on a hard hat and literally build our country. The public policy choices and investments made by today’s leaders define the opportunities and the kind of country they and all Canadian citizens are building today for our collective future.

The foundation for Canada’s success has rested on strong leadership, hard work and resilience, and fairness and compassion. Canada is at its best when the central ingredients -- opportunity, leadership, and fairness – come together to harness the significant potential of our country’s human and natural resources.

Election 2019 is occurring on the cusp of Canada entering the third decade of the third millennium. As a small, open trade-dependent economy, Canada has performed reasonably well in recent years, but as a country we can and must do better. In today’s dynamic and everchanging world, nothing can be taken for granted.

In this fall’s campaign, Canadians will be making an important decision about the future, and Merit Canada is providing this blueprint for what it will take to: support a strong construction sector which employs approximately 1.5 million men and women; build enduring confidence in Canada; grow our economy; and, enable shared prosperity for all Canadians. The stakes in this election are high and the challenges before us are many.

This national policy document -- Building Confidence in Canada - Growing National Prosperity – is supported by five pillars with a view to unleashing significant, sustainable and shared prosperity for all Canadians as our great country enters the 2020s. The five pillars include:

  1. Investment, Trade and Growth;
  2. Open and Fair Government Procurement;
  3. Responsible Resource Development;
  4. Building Enabling and Sustainable Infrastructure; and,
  5. Skills, Training and Education.

Investment, Trade and Growth

Merit Canada recommends that policy makers:

  • Undertake a long-overdue review of Canada’s complex tax system, with the overarching goal to simplify its application and administration;
  • Continue with the current sector-by-sector review of Canada’s regulatory burden with the goal of streamlining and simplifying the application and administration of regulations affecting businesses and citizens;
  • Review the Canada Labour Code to ensure that it provides labour market flexibility and balanced labour relations and employment standards policies suitable to the needs of today’s world of work. This must begin with restoration of a workers’ right to a secret ballot vote during union certification processes in federally regulated workplaces (there is no more fundamental democratic value than the right to a secret ballot, and workers should have that right when they are deciding if they should join a union);
  • Ensure that Canada maintains open access to steel products from international markets. Fundamentally sourcing cost-competitive supply to meet construction industry demand for steel inputs is differentiated across the country (Central Canada can source much of its supply domestically, while Western Canada is heavily dependent on imports from international markets); and,
  • Develop a comprehensive pan-Canadian, export-oriented jobs and investment plan to leverage gains from trade with the United States, Asia and Europe.

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Open and Fair Government Procurement

Merit Canada recommends that policy makers:

  • Maintain open, fair and transparent procurement processes based on achieving the best value at lowest reasonable cost for taxpayers without preference to non-union, non-affiliated union or building trades union contractors.

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Responsible Resource Development

Merit Canada recommends that policy makers:

  • Develop a national vision, strategy and implementation plan for advancing responsible resource development in cooperation with provincial governments, Indigenous Nations and the private sector that advances national infrastructure planning and execution (especially interprovincial pipelines to access tidewater on Canada’s east and west coasts);
  • Repeal and replace Bills C-69 and Bill C-48 with more balanced legislation in the national interest to advance responsible resource development for all Canadians, while balancing legitimate societal interests and environmental protection;
  • Clearly define the meaning and intent of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples juxtaposed to the Duty to Consult and Accommodate which has evolved in case law since the enactment of the Constitution Act, 1982. Failure to do so will result in many years of litigation and uncertainty;
  • Focus on incremental pan-Canadian LNG development to unleash the full potential of Western and Eastern Canadian gas reserves and export opportunities; and,
  • Develop a realistic climate action plan which truly respects concurrent federal and provincial jurisdiction over the environment; markets Canadian LNG as a transition fuel for China and India (the world’s leading carbon emitters) and Europe; and upholds the principle of full revenue-neutrality (i.e. one-for-one offsetting personal and corporate tax reductions) if a price on carbon is maintained.

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Building Enabling and Sustainable Infrastructure

Merit Canada recommends that policy makers:

  • Continue and enhance the existing commitment to multi-year federal cost-sharing for provincial and municipal infrastructure renewal;
  • Support provincial infrastructure initiatives to better connect communities, to improve goods and people movement, and to debottleneck provincial and national highway networks;
  • Support major port infrastructure development on Canada’s West Coast, East Coast, and Saint Lawrence River and Great Lakes Gateways tied to road and rail networks to improve supply chain efficiency and Canada’s capacity to get exports to global markets;
  • Work with telecommunications providers to ensure that Canadians across the country have sufficient access to highspeed internet and wireless network capacity;
  • Invest in targeted airport infrastructure in partnership with local airport authorities (where applicable), provincial governments and municipalities (where applicable) to improve passenger movements and experience, and to improve air cargo capabilities where there is a clear business case to do so; and,
  • Invest heavily in urban transit infrastructure in recognition that much of Canada’s population growth is occurring in Canada’s major cities and that affordable, livable and environmentally sustainable housing options go hand-in-hand with expanded transportation access.

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Skills, Training and Education

Merit Canada recommends that policy makers:

  • Provide federal funds for training programs, in partnership with the provinces, through provincially accredited colleges, trades training, and technical institutions;
  • Provide targeted assistance, in partnership with the provinces, to provincial institutions to build incremental training facilities where the need is greatest as clearly demonstrated by labour market data;
  • Give preference to funding support for apprenticeship programs which support work-integrated and life-long learning;
  • Ensure any federal apprenticeship funding is provided without preference or favour to union, non-affiliated union or non-union workers. Fundamentally, if the federal government provides funding for skills, training and education, it should be non-exclusively to all segments of construction industry workforce; and,
  • Recognize and support entrepreneurship as a legitimate and vitally important component of apprenticeship training and supporting succession planning in small, medium and large construction firms across the country.

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Conclusion

This fall, Canadians must confront important choices in the forthcoming election.

To help inform these choices, Merit Canada outlines a number of important considerations and recommendations in this document, Building Confidence in Canada - Growing National Prosperity.

Merit Canada’s vision and blueprint for building significant, sustainable, and shared prosperity for all Canadians is informed by the daily work of construction contractors who build projects of all size and scope across our great country each and every day.

On October 21, we encourage all Canadians to think carefully about the challenges our country is facing and to cast a ballot for candidates committed to creating and fostering the investment, jobs and opportunities required to support the important health, education and social programs which we all cherish and depend upon.

By electing candidates and a Federal Government committed to Opportunity, Leadership and Fairness, we will ensure that the legacy of the bold visionary builders of Canada continues.

About Merit Canada

Merit Canada is the national voice of Canada’s provincial Open Shop construction associations. Its roughly 5,000 members employ more than 100,000 Canadians. Merit Canada is the voice of the approximately 70% of the construction contractors and the men and women working in construction who build more than 70% of the industrial, commercial, and institutional, and residential construction projects across the country.

Merit Canada was created in 2008 to fight for fairness and transparency in government infrastructure project procurement on behalf of construction contractors and workers. Through its provincial partnerships in seven provinces across Canada, Merit Canada helps Open Shop employers develop the next generation of construction trades workers.