Recent media attention accorded to the ongoing Pan Am Games stadium dispute in Hamilton highlights a serious and growing problem in the construction industry.
In this instance, four trade contractors have filed property liens against the stadium and the general contractor on the project for $2 million worth of work for which they haven’t been paid.
In the larger picture, trade contractors, who actually do the work and create the jobs that make up 6.4 per cent of Ontario’s workforce, are not getting paid for months after they’ve completed the work.
Developers are in effect able to finance their projects on the backs of those who can least afford it, as we are seeing with the Pan Am Games stadium in Hamilton.
It is months behind schedule, over budget, and though taxpayers might be protected from liability by a lien bond secured by the general contractor, the trade contractors who built it are afforded no protection whatsoever.Ontario needs prompt payment legislation to protect the solvency of thousands of small and medium-sized, family-owned construction companies, and to protect their ability to create jobs and drive the economy forward.
Prompt Payment Ontario is a coalition of construction employer associations, trade unions, and benefit trust administrators who are dedicated to seeing prompt payment legislation become a reality. Each of its 36 member organizations (so far) have invested considerable financial resources to do whatever it takes because the stakes are so high.
The provincial government recently started its stakeholder consultation process for the independent review of the Construction Lien Act, which is to include a prompt payment component. It is months behind schedule, but at least it is a start.
Prompt Payment Ontario welcomes the opportunity to participate in that process and we are optimistic and encouraged that the chair of the review, Bruce Reynolds, seems to understand the issue and be willing to take whatever measures are necessary to correct this serious injustice.
We only hope that his final report doesn’t sit on a shelf collecting dust. Far too much is at stake.