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Ontario needs to open bidding on government contracts, PC’s Hudak says

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak speaks in front of the Toronto District School Board offices in Toronto on Dec. 5, 2012.

Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS

There should be legislative changes that would allow more groups to bid on government service contracts, Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak said Wednesday.

Businesses and private sector unions should be able to compete with public sector unions for jobs in food services, transportation, information technology, construction and building maintenance, he said.

"When you have closed tendering, it's only a couple of steps away from corruption," Mr. Hudak said. "And you don't get good quality services at the end of the day."

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Standing in front of the Toronto District School Board's offices, MR. Hudak pointed out that the board's obligation to give its union all building maintenance jobs resulted in a pencil sharpener being installed at a cost of $143.

"If you were hiring a handyman for your own home, you wouldn't take the first person that comes along, have them move in with you, and then use the exact same person every time you need your roof repaired no matter what the quality of service," he said.

"You'd shop around. And government needs to do that as well."

His test? If you can find the service in the Yellow Pages, it should be open to competitive bids, Mr. Hudak said.

Opening up more public services to competition will help save money for the cash-strapped government, he said, which is facing a $14.4-billion deficit.

"This doesn't mean it's pro-union or anti-union, it's neutral," Mr. Hudak said.

"Whoever can provide the best quality service – whether a public-sector union, a private union, a small business – it's a level playing field to let everyone succeed and give it their best shot."

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Mr. Hudak's suggestion for government contracts is among several trial balloons the Tory leader is floating, which also include having the province get out of the gambling business and potentially selling the LCBO. But they're not official party policy.

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