TURNING UP THE HEAT IN THE BATTLE FOR PROMPT PAYMENT LEGISLATION
If it’s one thing electrical contractors know well, it’s how to turn up the heat.
Calling the issue of delinquent payment in the construction industry “systemic, rampant, and more often the norm than the exception”, the Executive Director of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario [ECAO] appeared before Ottawa’s Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce earlier this month to share his organization’s concerns on the issue of prompt payment.
Standing alongside Jeff Koller were Dan Lancia, President of the ECAO and Bill McKee, ECAO’s former Treasurer – both of whom are also owners of electrical contracting businesses. Together, they met with the Liberal, NDP and Conservative caucuses, MP’s and Senators to discuss Bill S-224. Koller says he was pleased to see there was an indication of support from all groups.
However, he’s mindful that this is a Private Member’s bill.
“Traditionally and historically, private members’ bills do not have a good track record when it comes to support and passage back to the House of Commons – even when it’s the right thing to do”.
But that’s exactly what his request of the Committee was. They want the Committee to refer Bill S-224 back to the Senate floor for third and final reading and passage so that it may proceed to the House of Commons for debate and passage into law.
“This is a matter of fairness, of equity, of giving the trade contractors of Canada, who employ so many and contribute so much to the economy, a fighting chance to keep their businesses viable and solvent”.
This legislation affects only federal procurement projects where the federal government and its agencies and commissions are the purchasers of construction. In Ontario, the Province’s Lien Act covers both public and private work. Currently under review by the Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi has promised changes to the Act this spring.
This has been an issue the ECAO has been quite vocal about for several years. A founding and executive member of Prompt Payment Ontario, ECAO also serves on the Board of the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association (CECA), which is part of the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC).
The Coalition was formed in 2004 to provide an organized forum to share information, resources and to collaborate on issues such as prompt payment legislation. The Coalition currently is comprised of:
- Canadian Roofing Contractors Association
- Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association
- Canadian Masonry Contractors Association
- Canadian Electrical Contractors Association
- Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada
- Interior Systems Contractors Association
- Thermal Insulation Association of Canada
- Heating Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Institute of Canada Contractors Division
- Sheet Metal Contractors Association
- Canadian Institute of Steel Construction
Koller says critics of prompt payment legislation have suggested it would drive up the cost of construction, particularly in the public sector. In fact he says, the opposite is true.
“Late payment risk – not prompt payment – drives up the cost of construction as contractors factor in the risk of late payment into their bids. Shrinking the pool of eligible, reputable contractors drives up the cost of construction, not prompt payment.
Koller is looking forward to the changes the Ontario Government will propose in the Spring with the Lien Act, and his hopeful that in Ottawa, the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce will complete its clause-by-clause review before the end of the month, pass the bill and return it to the House of Commons for a vote.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222