To the Editor,
A tender alert to municipalities.
The Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) represents over 200 general contractors throughout Ontario. We provide the industry with a number of services, including the review of tender documents and the tendering process. This is done in the belief that a clear, concise and equitable set of bidding documents, combined with a fair, open and transparent tendering process will benefit all of the parties involved: the design professional; the contractor; and most importantly, the owner.
The OGCA understands the overwhelming majority of the general contractors that do work for your municipality are members of the OGCA. Furthermore, we want to highlight the consistent, professional and exceptional work delivered by these members.
This letter is written as a means to impress upon your municipality that it is necessary to properly compensate general contractors for quantifiable COVID-19 claims that they have submitted.
Clearly no one in the entire construction chain from the owners, architects, engineers, designers, general contractors, subtrades and suppliers could have foreseen COVID-19. Nor could any of them have adequately prepared for the ensuing global pandemic that caused the intermittent closure of sectors in construction for various periods.
The impacts of COVID-19 have been clearly two-fold.
Firstly, time has been greatly impacted. This has come in the form of scheduling impacts due to both social distancing requirements as well as supply chain issues, which are only exasperated when dealing with specialty products.
Secondly, costs have been impacted. It is clear that additional costs have been incurred by general contractors for COVID-19 protocols and procedures which were mandated by the provincial government to keep projects viable and open. Additional equipment and personnel have been relegated to all public and private sector projects to both ensure the continued protection of workers as well as a means to demonstrate to the Ministry of Labour that construction is capable of continuing the work.
OGCA contractors have been staunch in their perseverance to continue to keep construction open and all employees working. Furthermore, the construction industry has an exemplary track record with quantifiable evidence from the WSIB to support our success. As of Feb. 22, the WSIB noted that, of the 16,500 COVID-19 related claims, only 137 were submitted from the construction industry in its entirety. This is less than one half of one per cent of all claims.
The OGCA has had much success in recouping these reasonable costs for our members from the private owners of construction. The issue remains that the public buyers of construction are still reluctant to provide the above-noted compensation. Interestingly enough, a number of municipal owners are willing to consider a time allocation for COVID-19, but continue to refuse the monetary reimbursement of COVID-19 related costs. These two issues are linked and should not be treated as distinct and separate.
The OGCA is addressing this matter with the provincial government to ensure that all buyers of construction are addressing this matter equally, and in a timely manner. The construction industry remains committed to continue all efforts in keeping projects open and to deliver the completed project to the owners with minimal impact, in spite of the unprecedented global pandemic.
The OGCA believes the more appropriate response by your municipality to COVID-19 is to compensate our general contractors for both time and costs as related to any scheduling amendments as well as all additional reasonable COVID-19 costs.
Should you wish to discuss this further, please contact me directly.
We look forward to your response.