"If you're bidding from outside Canada you better have a proposal in place that's going to guarantee employment for our people," McGuinty said.
"We've certainly said that in terms of the weight we attach to different parts of the bid, one of the parts we'll be weighing is how many people are you going to employ?
"We are the centre of the nuclear industry right here in Ontario. What assurance can you provide us that we'll keep our industry alive in terms of our workforce?"
Areva NP of France and U.
S.-based Westinghouse Electric, along with Atomic Energy Canada Ltd., have bid to build two new nuclear reactors at the Darlington plant.
It's all part of a $26-billion plan to refurbish Ontario's nuclear fleet, replacing aging reactors and maintaining about 14,000 megawatts of nuclear-generated electricity.
McGuinty said it's not just a question of who can build the reactors for the lowest price, and that the government is willing to pay something extra for additional job numbers.
"It's not purely a function of who's got the lowest price," McGuinty said, citing another Ontario sector competing against international rivals.
"You might be able to buy a bottle of wine from Chile or California or Spain for a little bit less than an Ontario bottle of wine. But the Ontario bottle of wine means a bit more to me as an Ontarian because I know there are Ontario jobs that are connected to that."
None of the three companies bidding on the project would talk about the procurement process, which is being managed by Infrastructure Ontario and is expected to end in June when the winning bid is announced.