A national organization has been formed to give general contractors a stronger voice at the table when it comes to dealing with federal procurement, payment and liens, say organizers.
The General Contractors Alliance of Canada (GCAC), launched this week, was formed by the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) and the Corporation Des Entrepreneurs Generaux Du Quebec as well as general contractors across Canada. The alliance currently has 400 members, ranging from small to large firms.
Organizers anticipate the federal government will launch a national discussion on prompt payment in the near future and through the GCAC, general contractors from across the country will now be able participate in that process.
“All that we ask is that general contractors be at the table,” explained Clive Thurston, president of the OGCA, adding general contractors across Canada are all facing the same issues and need fair representation. “All of the top 10 major national companies are members of the OGCA.”
According to a release issued by the GCAC, the alliance will engage with federal and provincial governments on policy, regulation and legislation relating to provincial and national procurement issues and develop and recommend initiatives that will enhance the effective operation of the Canadian construction industry and provide best advice to industry, government and the public.
“We need a national voice that represents just general contractors,” explained Matt Ainley, chair of the GCAC and a former chair of the OGCA. He also sat on the Bill 142 task force that studied construction lien reform.
“We knew federally that things were moving and we thought we have to be there with a unified national voice and we need to have the resources to provide the input so it’s done in a fair way and we’re consulted with.”
Having just gone through Construction Lien Act modernization in Ontario, he said people who participated in the process need to share lessons learned with other provinces.
We know that the government will not recognize us if we’re separate so we need to work all together,
— Eric Cote
Corporation des Entrepreneurs Generaux du Quebec
“The alliance was formed because when we were going through the Ontario experience with Bill 142, we began to realize that others were going to follow Ontario,” said Ainley.
“We thought, let’s capture the lessons learned because it is complicated. Where there are common issues, we can pass the lessons learned and where it’s different the members can work together and figure it out. Every province and territory has lien legislation but it’s different in every province so the Ontario solution can’t just be rolled out across the other provinces.”
The alliance will work collaboratively with all stakeholders in the supply chain.
“You have to look at the entire supply chain. That’s the experience we came to realize in Ontario is that you’ve got to consider it right the way through so everybody gets treated fairly and people are protected appropriately and the payments are made in an efficient way,” Ainley said.
Eric Cote, executive vice-president for the Corporation des Entrepreneurs Generaux du Quebec, said the corporation has been involved in lobbying the government to adopt prompt payment measures for the last three years.
“We were looking at what was happening in Ontario and when we got into contact with the people in Ontario, we decided that it’s necessary to collaborate with them from their experience from Bill 142,” said Cote, adding the corporation’s board agreed representation at the federal level was also necessary.
“We know that the government will not recognize us if we’re separate so we need to work all together. No matter the size of the firms, small or large, everybody has the same issues concerning payment so clearly this is a priority and that’s why we’re involved. It’s a way for people to talk to each other and to solely represent the interests of the GCs.”
Cote said he hopes the alliance will help open doors at the national level.
“We hope to get a meeting with the minister (of public services and procurement),” said Cote.
“We already had a discussion with the minister’s office before. The obstacle we had was that we were working at a regional level. We think a national coalition will make a difference. We’re pretty optimistic the government will listen to us.”
The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC) have been working on the federal prompt payment file for years and the GCAC said it will work collaboratively with those groups going forward.
“We’re going to work with them,” said Ainley.
“Everybody is looking for the same thing. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. We’ve worked with the NTCCC, we’ve worked with CCA to try and resolve the issues and get it done in an open and fair way and everybody is supporting an open consolidated process and I think that’s what’s going to happen.”