OTTAWA — Representatives of the National Trade Contractors Council of Canada (NTCCC) held meetings at the end of January with government officials focusing on three issues of importance to Canada’s construction sector: prompt payment, reprisal clauses and the labour shortage.
In December, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the reprisal clauses in the City of Burnaby B.C.’s contract terms that did not allow any contractor to bid on a city project if they had taken legal action against the city in the past two years.
“We used the opportunity to update the government on our concern that December’s reprisal clause ruling in B.C. could limit the effectiveness of prompt payment rules. Officials agreed that would not be ideal,” said Sandra Skivsky, chair of NTCCC, in a statement.
“The concern is if the adjudication process, which will be part of federal prompt payment legislation and already exists in Ontario, will be considered an action against the owner and thus be subjected to a reprisal clause. This will circumvent the whole process, as contractors and sub-contractors would be punished for following the legislation or will be on the hook to make payments downstream.”
The concern is in addition to the current application of reprisal clauses on legal proceedings which is something the NTCCC is strongly against, the release stated.
Prompt payment initiatives have been supported by trade contractors, general contractors, suppliers and labour groups because of their important contribution to keeping money flowing through the construction chain, added the release.
“A municipality that supports reprisal clauses is simply stating that they want higher costs for taxpayers or customers,” Skivsky stated. “Any federal government funding of projects should be contingent on ensuring that there is fair and unfettered access to justice, be it through adjudication of the courts.”
NTCCC also used the meetings as an opportunity to discuss the labour shortages in Canada’s construction sector and the importance of collaboration on workforce development initiatives.
“We’ve seen this wave coming for decades,” said Skivsky. “Now the workforce is starting to retire and we don’t have systems in place to show young people or newcomers to Canada that careers in the skilled trades are rewarding. They don’t understand the pathways and it’s important that we support the government in efforts to make the trades careers of first choice.”