One of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations’ (COCA) most important accomplishments over the past year is its participation in the Construction Lien Act review process and prompt payment legislation, says its chair.
"It is a truly significant story of the active and effective participation of so many COCA volunteers collaborating to influence the shape of public policy in Ontario for the betterment of our industry," said COCA chair Gary van Bolderen, at the association's recent 2017 annual general meeting (AGM) and awards luncheon.
A review of the 33-year-old act by construction law experts Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP entitled Striking the Balance: Expert Review of Ontario's Construction Lien Act, was released at the end of September. It incoporates the views of COCA and many other industry stakeholders.
"COCA's Construction Lien Act Reform Task Force continued to provide advice to Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel and had a strong influence on the shape of their report," stated COCA president Ian Cunningham during his president's report at the AGM.
"Many long-held COCA positions found their way into Reynolds' and Vogel's list of recommendations. Working in concert with Prompt Payment Ontario, we pushed for fair and timely payment terms for work completed without dispute which Reynolds and Vogel addressed in their report."
Reynolds was at the luncheon to provide an update on the status of the review, which is now in the second phase. Vogel was slated to join him but was unable to attend.
I hope that working together, by the end of the year, the legislation will come into law that will achieve the objectives of COCA so clearly articulated to us"
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
"Phase two is to work with the legislative drafting group to prepare a bill based upon our report," said Reynolds, adding stakeholder consultation with COCA and others in phase one provided a great source of ideas and insight.
"This second phase, at the moment and until the bill is made public, is taking place in confidence so I'm not at liberty to discuss the specific content of what we are working on. I can assure you that we are hard at work, we've had a number of meetings with the Ministry of the Attorney General and we have additional meetings scheduled."
Part of the mandate in the second phase is to continue to maintain a dialogue with the industry, Reynolds noted.
"In addition to the work on the bill itself, part of our ongoing mandate in phase two — constrained somewhat by our inability to talk about the content of the bill itself — is nevertheless to maintain a dialogue with the stakeholders because the dialogue with the stakeholders was, as far as Sharon and I are concerned, really the magic of the first phase of our work," said Reynolds.
He encouraged COCA to continue to take part in the process.
"We did our recommendations, the bill is under preparation, but at some point the bill will go to committee and we all know what happened to Bill 69 in committee. So, without in any way trying to be provocative, I would encourage COCA, which has been so effective to date in making its views known to us...to continue its efforts and, speaking for Sharon and myself, to be prepared to express those views when the bill arrives for consideration in committee," said Reynolds.
"I hope that working together, by the end of the year, the legislation will come into law that will achieve the objectives of COCA so clearly articulated to us and, speaking again for Sharon and myself, that we see at least the vast majority of our recommendations enacted. For our part we'd be pleased to see them all enacted but I think we all need to recognize that there is some distance between today and the end of this road."
COCA presented the Construction Hard Hat Award to Reynolds and Vogel at the luncheon. COCA's newest award recognizes individuals who do something special to advance the interests of the construction industry.
"Bruce and Sharon have truly met this test," commented van Bolderen. "They have laid the foundation for generational reform of the Construction Lien Act and the introduction of real time dispute resolution and standard payment terms for our industry."
According to Cunningham and van Bolderen, COCA's other significant achievement in 2016 was the development of its new vision and mission statement. Cunningham said that a two-day planning retreat in August "produced a roadmap to guide COCA's affairs for the next two to three years and at the board of directors meeting in September, new vision and mission statements were developed as the federation's 'north stars.'"