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Dreyer plans to focus on Construction Act ‘glitches’ during review in first act as COCA chair

Angela Gismondi
Dreyer plans to focus on Construction Act ‘glitches’ during review in first act as COCA chair

The new chair of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA) is a construction lawyer who brings a wealth of legal, regulatory and legislative reform experience to the table. 

Ted Dreyer was elected for a three-year term during COCA’s annual general meeting held Feb. 28.

Ted Dreyer
Ted Dreyer

Dreyer, a lawyer in Kitchener, Ont., is past chair and a current Grand Valley Construction Association board member. He is also an ODACC certified adjudicator.

He has been involved with COCA since 2016 and played a key role in COCA’s submissions to the Expert Review of the Construction Lien Act by Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel in 2015.

Last week, the Ministry of the Attorney General named construction lawyer Duncan Glaholt to conduct a review of the Construction Act. As chair, Dreyer said this is his number one priority.

“My priority for the coming year will be engaging with him, engaging with the COCA members, the 29 associations that make up COCA, and with other industry stakeholders as part of that process,” he said. “There are 86 we’ll call them ‘glitches’ in the act. As I understand it, the purpose of this isn’t to sort of radically change the vision that Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel painted in 2015 with their report Striking the Balance. They set the roadmap for the Construction Act but there are lots of glitches so it doesn’t really function as we all thought it would.”

Of the technical revisions on the table, the most important one, he said, is extending the adjudication period by 120 days beyond the completion of the contract or the subcontract.

“The biggest flaw in the act as it currently stands is that the adjudication period expires when the contract is complete,” Dreyer said. “The current expiration date for the right to go to adjudication expires too soon.”

Dreyer said he first got involved with COCA when the government launched the expert review of the act.

“COCA put together a task force to generate submissions and respond to the questions that Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel had distributed to the various stakeholders,” Dreyer explained. “At that time, I was a board member of the Grand Valley Construction Association, but I was asked to take the lead in COCA’s Construction Lien Task Force.”

Once the Construction Act was implemented there was more work to do, he recalled. It was passed unanimously by the Ontario legislature in 2017 and it has been taking effect gradually.

“We thought that getting the legislation was the big deal and it was a big deal, but we learned that communicating the fact that the rules have changed to our members has also been a big task,” he said. “I’ve been heavily involved in doing that. The most obvious evidence of that would be COCA’s website on prompt payment and adjudication…When we initially started broadcasting information we sort of sent people a little encyclopedia. It was too much so we had to simplify it and that’s what you see in the website.”

COCA also deals with other issues including the skilled trades and recruitment, safety and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

“A big issue that’s out there is expanding the workforce and skilled trades,” he noted. “All levels of government seem to be pretty cognizant of that and have been responsive. It takes years to see if those efforts are paying off, if they’re enough, if they’re doing the right thing.”

Follow the author on X/Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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