About Merit Ontario

About Merit Ontario

The Merit OpenShop Contractors Association is a member driven organization representing Ontario’s open shop construction sector. We advocate and support sound legislation and regulation which is fair to both employers and employees in the areas on labour relations, apprenticeship training, worker’s compensation, and safety.

We believe that fiscal responsibility is the obligation of all branches of government, and, accordingly, that government should award contracts to the lowest bidder qualified to perform the work.


What does “open shop” mean?

The term "Open Shop" describes a workplace where membership or non-membership in a union is not a condition of employment. In construction contracting, it specifically refers to a situation where owners, architects, developers, construction managers and/or general contractors or others do not consider the union status of a contractor's employees when awarding a construction contract.


What is the difference between “open shop” and “non-union” shop?

In Canada, an open shop construction company can include non-union employees, unionized employees and/or employee association working together. Canadians enjoy the freedom to associate, guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which inherently includes the freedom from “compelled association”.


What is a “merit shop”?

The term “merit shop” was coined by John Trimmer, the first Executive Director of ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) in the US in the early 1950’s, to denote “a fair and economical way of workplace life”. Construction contracts are awarded on a competitive basis of meritorious performance rather than an employer’s union or non-union status and employees are rewarded on the basis of merit.

A “merit shop” creates multi-skilled job training programs and team-coordinated work practices. Employees cross traditional craft lines and readily adapt to the new tools, materials and job assignments required by ever-advancing technology.

They receive fair wages and employee benefits with job security, which increases worker morale and productivity. Company management maintains cost effectiveness with fair and firm management controls of business decisions and the employees.

In summary, both open shop and merit shop contractors believe in access to all projects for all qualified contractors, this will ensure quality work at a competitive price.


What is the benefit of open and competitive tendering by all qualified contractors?

Open tendering is the best way that a buyer of construction –commercial, government, industrial or residential can ensure competitive pricing. Restrictive tendering clauses increase the price by excluding qualified contractors and their large, skilled workforce. Open shop values encourage a flexible and cooperative workplace to promote innovation and efficiency to create a competitive advantage for the contractor, buyer or owner. Merit most closely coincides with the interests of buyers of construction to get quality construction at a competitive price.