You Bet Your Glass – Prompt payment, low priority
By Frank Houben
By Frank Houben
Way back in February, 2015, the Ontario government issued a press release stating “Ontario is launching an expert review of the Construction Lien Act that will include the examination of payment issues within the construction sector.” It went on to say that “strengthening Ontario’s construction sector is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario.” It was stated on many occasions thereafter that the process would be fully transparent.
A year has now passed since I outlined the proceedings of the Ontario Construction Lien Act review. The OGMA and AGMCA joined Prompt Payment Ontario (PPO) to ensure the views of the glass and metal industry were heard at the table. Extensive surveys were conducted by PPO to compile data to prove just how poorly subcontractors are treated when it comes to getting paid by contractors, developers, and municipalities. The legal group completed its’ extensive review of the act and submitted its recommendations to the provincial government at the beginning of May, 2016. And there it sits. Although this matter is largely a regional issue at this time, you can be sure it will influence future laws across the country. Those of you who aren’t blessed with the strong and responsible Liberal leadership we enjoy in Ontario may wonder why they haven’t released the report yet. To be fair, they’ve been extremely busy diligently managing our economy with an unprecedented level of fiscal responsibility.
One example of this is the gas plant scandal where, in order to win seats in an election, the Ontario Liberals gave in to “NIMBYism” in Oakville and Mississauga and halted the construction of two gas-fired hydro plants that were already under construction. The tab to the taxpayers was reported to be as high as $1.1 billion. It wasn’t all bad news though. The Liberals won those seats in the communities where the gas plants were scrapped.
During the past year our illustrious leader, Kathleen Wynne, was very busy establishing a new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) to supplement the CPP while at the same time rolling out carbon emission cap-and-trade regulations, more accurately referred to as a carbon tax. The plan was rolled out at the beginning of the year but some behind-closed-door talks with the prime minister’s office led to its cancellation in June. In that short time, $8 million was spent marketing a program that never actually existed.
The government has been “investing” in many other areas as well, ringing up a debt of $308 billion. This makes Ontario the most leveraged jurisdiction in North America with twice the debt of California and half the population.
Possibly more lucrative will be the carbon tax, a way to extract money from working stiffs by adding a penalty fee to the fuel they use to heat their houses and the gasoline they use to drive their cars to work. The cap-and-trade regulation took effect on July 1 and was expected to increase the price of gasoline by 4.3 cents per litre and add $5 to a household’s monthly natural gas bill. Cumulatively, it is expected to raise $1.9 billion in the first year, or according to O’Leary, “the largest hedge fund in Ontario history.” Although this money is earmarked to fund green projects, there’s not a person in the province who believes that’s where the money will be going within a few years.
So, what’s all this got to do with the CLA review and the release of the report? When pushed by PPO, the message from David Phillips, chief of staff to the Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi, was that the CLA review report “was important to Minister Naqvi, but there are a number of legislative issues that are of a greater priority.” There exists the concern that the delay was to allow politically connected influences a chance to massage the final report in their favour prior to its release.
Well, as it happens, just as I finished writing this mini-rant, the Attorney General’s office issued a letter stating the review will be made public at the end of September. We’ll hope for the best but must be ready for the worst. Stay tuned.