COCA suggests reasons for delay in releasing Construction Lien Act (CLA) review

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STAFF WRITER – The Ontario Construction Report

The Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA) has published, in its newsletter, some speculation about the reason the provincial government hasn’t released its response to Bruce Reynolds and Sharon Vogel’s report about modernizing the Construction Lien Act.

The experts submitted their report on May 2.

In late May, attorney general ministry spokesperson Brendan Crawley said in a statement to Ontario Construction Report that: “It’s important that we take the time to carefully consider this expert advice. Our government is currently reviewing the report and the recommendations,” giving no indication of when the report would be released.

COCA, in its newsletter, suggests the reasons for the delay could range from practical translation and assessment issues, to more challenging assertions about lobbying and political interference in the decision making process.

“Now, more than a month later, the report hasn’t been publicly released,” the COCA newsletter says.

The newsletter continues:

• “This of course leads one to speculate on the reasons for the delay. Here are some of the rumours that are going around:

• The report was submitted in English so it has to be translated into French, made digital and accessible, and all ministries with construction stakeholders have to be briefed before it can be made public. This all takes time;

• The review was a joint undertaking of the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Economic Development Employment and Infrastructure and MEDEI minister Brad Duguid had been sidelined for a few weeks with a partial blockage of an artery and has to be briefed. He has been busy catching up;

• The report is long (rumoured to be almost 400 pages with upwards of 100 recommendations). It’s complicated. The Ministry of the Attorney General lacks the required expertise in this highly specialized area of the law that it needs to fully understand and become comfortable with the report and its recommendations;

• All new initiatives have been put on hold while our government plans to prorogue at the end of the spring session, make a significant cabinet shuffle and develop a new program over the summer for a throne speech to launch the next session that will lift their chances for re-election in June 2018. It’s often been said that the highest priority of any government is getting reelected and our government has higher priorities that the Lien Act;

• Deep pocketed friends of the government, who don’t like paying their contractors fairly for work that’s been completed without any dispute and who fear that Reynolds and Vogel have recommended a payments protocol in their report, have been lobbying for delay;

• The government is waiting until after the Legislature rises on June 9 to release the report away from the spotlight of Question Period. (At press time in early July the report has still not been released, however).”

COCA added a final possible reason for the delay: “The government simply doesn’t care about the plight of contractors and the 450,000 workers they employ in Ontario,” the newsletter asserted.

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