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BCCA sends government report with clear message: Prompt payment is needed now

Warren Frey
BCCA sends government report with clear message: Prompt payment is needed now

One of British Columbia’s leading construction industry associations is giving the province’s leaders a roadmap to prompt payment, but it’s up to the government to use it.

The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) recently collaborated with WeirFoulds LLP on a report titled The Time to Act Promptly is Now, which outlines the objectives and benefits of prompt payment legislation and adjudication in British Columbia.

The report has been submitted to both the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney General and B.C. Premier David Eby.

“It’s an appropriate companion document to the cross-jurisdictional analysis released in the fall,” BCCA president Chris Atchison said.

“While that previous report had a forensic view of legislation across Canada to compare with, we needed a galvanizing paper that talked about the experience of prompt payment across Canada, including imperfections and changes made to improve prompt payment in other jurisdictions.

“We wanted a paper with a holistic rationale as to why this is so desperately needed.”

Atchison said implementing prompt payment would alleviate the “disproportionate burden of payment delays” and could address the inequality of bargaining power between parties by ensuring builders have a reliable payment schedule.

“It applies consistency to enforcement mechanisms across sectors and it also addresses issues around incomplete invoicing,” he added.

At a recent Vancouver Regional Construction Association event, Eby indicated while no commitment to prompt payment would come before the upcoming provincial election in October, prompt payment would be on the NDP’s agenda should it win another term.

“The BCCA is agnostic and apolitical, but our individual members are not,” Atchison said. “They’re looking for action and certainty. Prompt payment adjudication and lien reform are all important to the construction industry in future, which can become part of an NDP, BC United or Conservative platform.”

He added keeping prompt payment top of mind should be a priority for all parties given the importance of creating affordable housing and building infrastructure.

“Some of the government’s broad policy and the involvement of the construction industry can’t be achieved without prompt payment,” Atchison said.

“It’s all about continued awareness and how important this is for those building B.C. It’s a serious enough issue that for any party with housing as a primary pillar, this needs to be part of the message as to the how of getting it done.”

“We applaud Premier David Eby for making a commitment and the standing committees (for studying the issue), but we need to see it become more than a passing comment. We need to see it written into a platform and efforts undertaken by a working group into drafting meaningful legislation,” Atchison added.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, Atchison said the BCCA remains committed to continuing to lobby for meaningful prompt payment legislation.

“We’ll be communicating that message through the spring and summer and the election. Then, depending on the election outcome, we’ll hold meetings with ministers and departments looking for the commitments we feel they’re beginning to make,” he said.

He added the report serves as a template to government decision-makers and explains clearly why a prompt payment system and adjudication are key issues for not only the construction industry but the overall economy.

“We’re really thrilled with what we brought to the province’s attorney general and the premier. It fills in the blanks and what might continue to be fear and misunderstanding of what a prompt payment system might be in B.C.,” Atchison said.

The full report on prompt payment is available here.

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