The History of Merit Ontario
Founded in 1990 as the United Independent Contractors’ Group of Ontario (ICG), the organization began as a leading voice for fairness and transparency in construction. At that time it was comprised of a number of industrial, commercial, and institutional general and sub-contractors who joined together in order to address the unfairness of restrictive clauses in public sector tendering.
In 2002 a new name was introduced, the OpenShop Contractors Association. The change was a response to the growing need to address the wider concerns of open shop employers from across the province.
In 2009 the Association became known as the Merit OpenShop Contractors Association of Ontario. The final change occurred in order to reflect the commitment to Merit Canada, the national organization for open shop associations. Today, there are 8 Provincial Merit Associations and a Merit Canada office representing 3,500 contractors & businesses with over 300,000 employees.
The founding principles for the Merit Shop movement in North America are still relevant today
1) It is in the public’s best interest that all construction contracts are awarded to the lowest responsible bidder through open and fair competition, regardless of union or non-union affiliation.
2) Management has the right to direct the activities of the business according to the policies and goals established by its own leaders, searching for efficiency and productivity.
3) Each employee has the voluntary choice to belong or refrain from belonging to a labour organization and is paid and promoted based on his/her skills, initiative and responsibility for individual accomplishment, rather than employment seniority alone.
4) Discrimination of any type, as defined by Human Rights, is contrary to the spirit of Canada and harmful to the country both morally and economically.
What are the future goals for Merit Ontario?
The ultimate goal is to have an equitable and competitive marketplace for construction contractors. This would be accomplished with legislation that allows all qualified contractors to bid on all projects. Card-based certification would be replaced by the secret ballet vote. Apprenticeship ratios need to be reduced and WSIB improved. The ultimate result will be decreased contract costs. Other provinces still allow owner/operators to opt out of WSIB. All other provinces have lower apprenticeship ratios for most trades, generally 1:1. Some provinces have set up Commissions to reduce red tape for business. Therefore our short and long term objectives are to ensure that all levels of government hear the voice of the open shop contractor and act responsibly by designing legislation that promote a fair and prosperous economy.