No guarantee for Canadian workers on Gordie Howe bridge, says Infrastructure Minister

There's still no commitment from the federal government on how many Canadian workers will be employed to build the new Gordie Howe International Bridge. Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi said that decision will be left to the successful bidder of the project.

No agreement in place to ensure equal number of Canadian workers are employed on the project

Minister of Infrastructure Amarjeet Sohi said that the successful bidder of the Gordie Howe bridge project will have final authority on how many Canadian workers will be employed on the project - and how many Americans. (Jason Viau/CBC)

There's still no commitment from the federal government on how many Canadian workers will be employed to build the new Gordie Howe International Bridge.

There's currently no agreement in place to ensure Canadian workers are equal to or greater in number than American employees during construction of the bridge, said Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi on Tuesday during a visit to Windsor.

Sohi said that decision will be left to the successful bidder of the project.  

Canadian taxpayers are footing the bill for the project — pegged at roughly $4.8 billion — which will be recovered through future tolls.

"I cannot go into the details of the [request for proposal] because we have still not closed the agreement," said Sohi. "As we close the deal we will have more details to share on the jobs and availability of work."

The Windsor and District Labour Council is not pleased with the lack of government commitment on a minimum number of Canadian workers. President Brian Hogan said he is shocked and a bit worried.

"Certainly it has to be at least 50 per cent," said Hogan. "I mean half the bridge is going to be ours."

Workers prepare an area of land for the bridge in Windsor. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Hogan wants to see something in writing that commits to "a very good chunk" of Canadians building the bridge.

The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce isn't saying much until the request for proposal process is brought down from three bidders to one.

"Whether it's 50-50 or 55-45, either side, we don't know yet," said Matt Marchand, President and CEO. "It could be a majority on our side, a majority on their side ... we don't know."

Bridge officials said a successful bidder will be chosen in September. After that, the public will learn how much the new bridge will cost and the length of time it will take to build it.

The awarded bidder will also be responsible for hiring skilled workers to fulfil those timelines.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority said officials from Homeland Security, border services and immigration staff are helping to ensure workers can have some mobility to work in both countries during the construction of the bridge.