Ontario Construction Finishing Alliance calls for prompt payment legislation progress

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Letter to the editor:

Dear editor:

Governments don’t create jobs. Former premier Mike Harris correctly pointed out in his Common Sense Revolution that it is a government’s responsibility and obligation to create a positive economic and investment climate to allow businesses to create jobs.

Right now the Ontario government has an opportunity to do just that, yet seems to be stalling.

Vaughan MPP Steven Del Duca’s Bill 69, Prompt Payment Act, 2013, would oblige construction developers to pay their contractors and sub-contractors within a reasonable timeframe after work has been completed. This is not a novel concept for anyone outside of the construction industry. Just ask anyone who has ever had a utility or their cable tv or telephone cut off for non-payment.

Money flows in the construction industry from developers to general contractors to trade and sub-contractors and so on down the line. It is the trade and sub-contractors at the bottom of the pyramid who hire employees to do the work, creating jobs and driving the economy forward. Unfortunately, a different set of standards seem to apply in construction that wouldn’t be tolerated in any other sector.

Late payment has become more the norm than the exception, which in turn prevents a small contractor from hiring new employees, paying their own bills and tax obligations, and in extreme cases, from meeting payroll.

As an example, just one residential drywall contractor has recently been reported in the media as having account receivables of $7.6 million, $6 million of which is more than 120 days past due.

One would think that in a minority government if you have a piece of legislation that all three parties support, and which would appear to be the morally right thing to do, and which would seem to make economic and common sense, that it should be a no-brainer. Yet that’s not what is happening.

Mr. Del Duca, a Liberal MPP, introduced his Private Member’s Bill last May, six months ago. It passed second reading with support from all three parties and was referred to a committee for public hearings. But nothing has so far been scheduled for the committee to deal with the bill and the Legislature will adjourn for its Christmas break in a few weeks, returning in February.

The Conservative party seems more supportive of this legislation than Mr. Del Duca’s own governing party.  PC labour critic Monte McNaughton has raised the issue in Question Period for the second time in less than a month. “Premier, is Bill 69 a priority for your Liberal government? And if so, when do you expect to move forward on this important piece of legislation?”

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s response was: “The bill will move through the normal course of the process in the Legislature. There will be an opportunity for debate and a vote.”

The only problem with that is, in the normal course of process, most private members bills never see the light of day.

Sincerely,

Jeff Koller, industry compliance officer

Ontario Construction Finishing Industries Alliance

 

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