Prompting Payment Legislation

by Dana Taylor, MCABC Executive Vice President

The problem – and the solution 

Prompt payment is the idea that payments for work completed are guaranteed to be made in a timely order. Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? But being paid promptly happens all too infrequently for the mechanical and other trades. The construction industry has supported proposed prompt payment legislation because for many construction businesses, especially small operations, delayed payment can have serious negative consequences on business operations.

The federal Senate-initiated Prompt Payment Bill, Bill S-224, has passed second reading and is now being deliberated by the Senate. MCA Canada and others will provide testimony during the committee hearings in early February. The National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC) is also meeting with senior public officials from Public Works, key senators and members of parliament.

The hope, after the Senate committee hearings, is for the bill to go through third reading, forwarded to the House of Commons and passed into law.  While the timing seems to be right leading up to MCAC’s lobbying effort scheduled to take place in early April, meetings alone will not be enough to ensure passage of the bill. Nothing will progress without you – the concerned public – making your views known to the legislators.

MCAC has organized a letter-writing campaign and is asking contractors to write to their provincial senators asking them to support prompt payment.  These messages are pre-written and -addressed; you don’t need to do much more than CLICK THE LINK and hit send. You don’t even need to know who your senator is – they figure it out for you. But please, be prompt. Now is when your voice will make the most impact.

Prompt payment – the background

For more than a decade, MCABC and its sister associations across Canada, and affiliates in other trades have been making the case for Prompt Payment at both federal and provincial levels. In British Columbia we generated a lot of enthusiasm a few years back at the trade level with cohesive leadership of the Council of Construction Trades Associations, enthusiasm that unfortunately dissipated as initiatives in other provinces seemed to hold promise of more immediate success. That, and the absence of a shared vision with other construction associations, enabled those in government to look away while the industry aligned its interests.

Progress, though seemingly glacial, has nevertheless been made across the country.  Prompt Payment Ontario (PPO) seems to have stalled as little has been reported since the release of the Construction Lien Act Review Report that addressed prompt payment concerns.  PPO is expected to work with the government to introduce this spring legislation that will modernize the Construction Lien Act.

Probably the greatest Prompt Payment advance came, not because of lobbying, but due to the uncovering of wrongdoing. Quebec Construction Industry Enquiry investigators discovered that corruption and bribes in that province happened in part because of the absence of a prompt payment regime. Last April, following release of the Charbonneau Commission report, Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said the province would be introducing new prompt payment rules by the spring of 2017.

The Trades Association Coalition in Alberta was able to report some success last spring when Alberta Infrastructure included for the first time a prompt payment clause in construction contracts.

You can make the difference

Our lobbying effort across Canada is a long march where each piece of new legislation is a stepping stone toward standardization of timely payment for completed approved work. Won’t it help your business if you are paid on time?

MCA Canada has made it easy for you to help – send the message to BC Senators that we need this. Simply click HERE to add your support.

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