Premier Kathleen Wynne released the following statement today on the introduction of an Ontario regulation to level the playing field in response to New York State’s “Buy American” legislation:
“I have consistently supported open and competitive procurement because it helps create good jobs on both sides of the border, but it has to be a two-way street. When Ontario workers and businesses are threatened by protectionist U.S. actions I have no choice but to respond. I will not let New York, or any other state, tilt the field in their favour without taking appropriate action.
Last month Ontario passed the Fairness in Procurement Act, 2018, so that the province would have the ability to respond to unfair “Buy American” practices by U.S. states, including those which took effect in New York State yesterday. And yesterday, Ontario created a new regulation under the Act to respond proportionately, just as we said we would do if New York refused to back down.
New York’s “Buy American” legislation gives American workers and businesses an unfair advantage by requiring the use of American-made iron in certain government surface road and bridge construction projects.
In response, effective April 1, 2018, Ontario is restricting its government entities from entering into certain procurement contracts with suppliers from New York State, including provisions that restrict suppliers’ use of structural iron from New York State.
We are levelling the playing field. But it remains my hope that New York and other jurisdictions that might consider “Buy American” laws will abandon their protectionist approach. The best outcome is open procurement on both sides of the border. Should New York agree to repeal its “Buy American” restrictions against Ontario, we would immediately repeal our regulations against New York as well.
Ontario and the U.S. both benefit from a strong, balanced economic relationship, which has historically included open procurement. That’s what makes us more competitive and creates the greatest number of opportunities for people on both sides of the border. It is why we worked so hard to prevent New York State from going down this protectionist path, and why we were very clear with them that if they did not treat Ontario businesses fairly, there would be consequences.
In Texas, Ontario’s advocacy efforts are ongoing and we are hopeful for a positive outcome. Ontario has not yet created a regulation in response to the Texas “Buy American” legislation because we are of the position that the Texas rules do not apply to Canada. A review of this position is being pursued and Ontario will not respond further until that review is complete.
At this time of economic uncertainty, Ontario workers and businesses need to know that I am their number-one advocate. Through successful engagement with U.S. states, I am reinforcing our existing partnerships and forging new ones to create more opportunities for people on both sides of the border. I will continue to strongly advocate for fair, open and balanced procurement practices, but my top priority remains defending Ontario workers and businesses. In the face of unfair U.S. actions, I will stand up for the people of Ontario in every way possible — every time.”