Prompt payment is needed now

One of B.C.’s leading construction industry associations is giving the province’s leaders a roadmap for prompt payment, but it’s up to the government to use it.

The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) recently collaborated with WeirFoulds LLP on a report titled The Time to Act Promptly is Now, which outlines the goals and benefits of prompt payment legislation and arbitration in British Columbia.

The report was submitted to the British Columbia Ministry of the Attorney General and British Columbia Premier David Eby.

“This is an appropriate companion document to the cross-jurisdictional analysis released in the fall,” said BCCA President Chris Atchison.

“While this previous report provided a forensic view of the legislation across Canada with which to compare, we needed a galvanizing document that spoke to the expedited payment experience across Canada, including imperfections and changes made to improve prompt payment in other jurisdictions.

“We wanted a document with a comprehensive rationale for why this is so desperately needed. »

Atchison said implementing prompt payment would alleviate the “disproportionate burden of late payments” and could address the unequal bargaining power between parties by ensuring builders have a reliable payment schedule.

“It brings consistency to enforcement mechanisms across sectors and also addresses issues related to incomplete billing,” he added.

At a recent Vancouver Regional Construction Association event, Eby indicated that while no commitment to prompt payment would be made until the next provincial election in October, prompt payment would be on the agenda for NDP if he wins another term.

“The BCCA is agnostic and apolitical, but our individual members are not,” Atchison said. “They are looking for action and certainty. Prompt payment resolution and lien reform are all important for the construction industry going forward, which may be part of an NDP, BC United or Conservative Party platform.

He added that keeping prompt payment in mind should be a priority for all parties, given the importance of creating affordable housing and building infrastructure.

“Some of the government’s general policies and the participation of the construction sector cannot be achieved without prompt payment,” Atchison said.

“It’s all about continued awareness and how important that is to those building B.C. It’s a serious enough issue that any party with housing as a main pillar needs to be part of the messaging on how to achieve this.”

“We commend Premier David Eby for his commitment and the standing committees (for studying the issue), but we need to see this become more than a passing comment. We need to see it enshrined in a platform and efforts undertaken by a task force to draft meaningful legislation,” Atchison added.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, Atchison said the BCCA remains committed to continuing to push for meaningful prompt payment legislation.

“We will communicate this message throughout the spring, summer and elections. Then, depending on the outcome of the election, we will hold meetings with ministers and departments to review the commitments that we think they are starting to make,” he said.

He added that the report serves as a model for government policymakers and clearly explains why a prompt payment system and rapid awarding are key issues not only for the construction industry but for the economy as a whole.

“We are really pleased with what we have brought to the Attorney General and the Premier of the province. This fills in the gaps and what may continue to be fear and misunderstanding about what a rapid payment system could be in B.C.,” Atchison said.

The full Prompt Payment report is available here.