The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has formed a task force to provide input for Ontario’s Construction Lien Act review.
The decision came as discussions of prompt payment legislation became a dominant topic of many meetings at the CCA’s 97th annual convention in San Antonio, Texas.
The act establishes a system of lien and holdback rights, and trust provisions to provide financial protection to those who supply services or materials to a construction project.
Ontario tasked construction lawyer Bruce Reynolds in February with reviewing of the act, which will include an examination of payment issues. It is anticipated that the review will be completed by December 2015.
While the CCA said it supports prompt payment, it was cautious to endorse specific legislation.
"We are certainly in favour of getting paid promptly," said outgoing CCA Chair Serge Massicotte, during the association’s trade contractors council where members pushed the association to take a position on the issue.
The CCA’s executive committee will ensure there is balance on the task force, which will have fair representation of the different sectors the association represents, he said.
Volunteers for the task force stepped forward in San Antonio from the association’s general contractor, trade and manufacturers, suppliers and services councils, ensuring CCA will look at the issue throughout "the entire chain of our industry," noted Massicotte.
Although the Reynolds review of the lien act is an Ontario-based issue, it should not influence the geographical representation on CCA’s task force.
"This is a CCA response and does not necessarily have to be Ontario-centric, it will be representative of Canada and not just Ontario," added Massicotte.
Ray Bassett, CCA’s manufacturers, suppliers and services council chair, corresponded with Reynolds in late February and early March to express the association’s goal to be acknowledged as a stakeholder group and be involved in any review consultations.
On Feb. 26, 2015, Bassett wrote to Reynolds stating that, "it seems likely, given the apparent broad scope of your mandate that the review process and any recommendations may have an impact in the Canadian market beyond Ontario."
On March 10, Reynolds responded to Bassett and stated that CCA has been identified "as an important stakeholder in regards to the review."
Massicotte said the CCA hope to provide a response to the review in June or July of this year.
"We are suggesting that once the task force meets and reports back, at the CCA board meeting in May, that we also have a discussion at that Vertical Building Forum there and then hopefully include or make some recommendations," he said.
Trade contractors council members also brought up legislation drafted by the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC), which would apply only at the federal level and solely for federal government projects.
"We wouldn’t respond," Massicotte said, when asked what he would do if he was pushed to support the legislation. "We did have a discussion on this in terms of principles but in terms of detail we aren’t there."
He said the CCA would provide a position statement in May.
The NTCCC is also organizing a national prompt payment summit in order to share experiences and launch similar initiatives in provinces across the country. The summit is planned for April in Ottawa.
Ed Whalen, Canadian Institute of Steel Construction president, said he understood that the CCA is in a difficult position, but wants them to make their position clear.
"There is a real challenge here for CCA championing both sides," Whalen said. "This is clearly a subcontractor trades to general contractors challenge. It’s a difficult situation for CCA being stuck in the middle and I don’t know personally how you can bridge that gap."