The certification of the Region of Waterloo as a construction employer has led to a decrease in bids on construction projects and likely an increase in the costs of those projects, according to a new report.

Think tank Cardus based its findings on a study of 52 regional construction projects – 30 from before the 2014 certification and 22 since.

The certification came about because two workers signed union cards. As they were the only workers on the project, that was enough to get the region considered a construction employer – meaning they can now only accept bids on any construction projects from organizations which have signed agreements with the Carpenters’ Union

According to the Cardus report, 103 contractors bid on regional construction projects prior to the certification, while only 17 have since. The region has seen its average number of bids per project fall from more than eight to fewer than four.

Additionally, the 17 firms that have bid on projects since 2014 are not firms which were likely to be awarded projects prior to the certification.

The report found that only one of the 17 firms was selected for one of the 30 studied pre-certification projects – and in that case, they were the only bidder.

“Firms that used to be middling performers … now have exclusive rights over all of the region’s work,” the report reads.