Ontario’s Attorney General Announces Plan to Update Construction Lien Act

OSPE

QUEEN’S PARK—Yesterday, Ontario’s Attorney General Yasir Naqvi announced that the province will be making-good on its commitment to introduce legislation in spring 2017 that will bring Ontario’s construction laws up to date, supporting more than 400,000 Ontarians who work in the industry, including thousands of Professional Engineers.

Over the past year, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers’ (OSPE) Infrastructure Task Force participated in the Construction Lien Act (CLA) review process that informed the creation of this new legislation. Leveraging decades of industry experience, OSPE effectively communicated how current prompt payment, holdback, and dispute resolution practice stand to negatively impact the engineering profession, advising on updates to Ontario’s CLA that could slow and reverse the commoditization of engineering services.

“This is just one example of how the active and effective collaboration of OSPE members can influence public policy in this province for the betterment of the engineering profession and the lives of all Ontarians,” said OSPE’s Chief Executive Officer, Sandro Perruzza.

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 2016. The report incorporates the views of OSPE, Consulting Engineers Ontario (CEO) and many other professional and industry stakeholders.

“After consulting with our partners in the Construction Design Alliance of Ontario and listening to the concerns of the entire industry, OSPE pushed for the establishment of trust accounts for lien holdbacks, fair and timely payment terms for services completed without dispute, and early arbitration when disputes arise, all of which Reynolds and Vogel addressed in their report,” said Perruzza.

In the weeks ahead, OSPE will leverage the public consultation process to bring attention to and defend against the creeping commoditization of engineering services – a mounting danger that threatens to undermine the quality, integrity, and safety of Ontario’s projects.

As a major participant in the direction of the CLA review process, Ministry officials have encouraged OSPE to continue to take part in further developing content for this significant piece of legislation.

“I am calling on OSPE’s membership, who have been so effective to date in making their views known to our committee and in-turn the Attorney General, to continue to express those views when the bill arrives for consideration in committee,” said OSPE President and Chair, Michael Monette.

Although a number of OSPE’s recommendations have already been adopted in the draft legislation, Monette says that more must be done to ensure that the CLA supports the impressive value Professional Engineers bring to these projects.

“The full adoption of the recommendations OSPE has articulated to government will result in benefits that transcend the individual engineer and serve the public good. When it comes to defining the rules that inform the way we construct the world around us, government needs to understand that investing in and involving Professional Engineers unlocks economic benefits that are enjoyed by all Ontarians.”

Read OSPE’s response to the Construction Lien Act Review Report here.

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