• Politics are Back in Season

    March 7, 2019

    Politics are Back in Season

    Saskatchewan’s 63 MLAs returned to the legislature for the spring session on Monday, March 4th. To welcome them back and to say thanks for their work on behalf of our province, the SCA and Merit Contractors Association co-hosted an MLA reception the evening of Wednesday, March 6th. The event offered an opportunity for about 30 MLAs to meet casually with members of the SCA and Merit Boards at Casino Regina.

    Both political parties were represented as attendees discussed issues ranging from the importance of construction to our province and economic issues to the recent cold snap and prospects for Saskatchewan sports teams. The evening also included some incredibly entertaining and poular activities with a construction twist: giant Jenga; a who can hammer a nail the fastest? Competition; and a cutting edge, interactive virtual-reality safety demonstration from SCSA.

    In short, it was fun. Everyone had some laughs and it was a great way to show some appreciation for our hard-working MLAs, while reminding them about the important work being done by our many hard-working construction companies across Saskatchewan.

    While the event wasn’t about lobbying, rest assured that we didn’t miss the opportunity to talk about the issues that matter the most to you: prompt payment; PST; and continued improvement of the province’s construction procurement processes. We will continue to push these priorities, and others, over the course of the spring legislative session. This session will include the release of the provincial budget on Wednesday, March 20th, and will end on Thursday, May 16th.

    On Prompt Payment, here is the latest: we expect the legislation to be passed during this spring session. We are currently working with a coalition of industry groups to advance a consensus position with respect to necessary amendments to the Prompt Payment bill, while working to smooth the transition for industry once it becomes law. At the SCA, our primary focus is ensuring that there are no exemptions to the legislation. We believe that the law should apply equally to all construction projects.

    With respect to PST, the SCA continues to be hold the position that charging PST on construction labour is bad for investment and bad for business. We are working with industry and non-construction partners to do a study on the impact of the PST and what is has meant for the Saskatchewan economy. While the government has been clear that they have no plan to remove the tax this year, they have expressed an openness to talking about it and reviewing the impact of the tax. We will work with our partners to keep pushing the priority.

    On April 1st the province will launch its Single Window Procurement Service. All procurement across all government ministries (not including the Crowns yet) will flow through SaskBuilds as a central hub for procurement expertise. This is a big step in the right direction. Moving to best value procurement has been an important but rocky transition. A single window service will enhance the standardization of procurement processes and documents, making it easier for member companies to navigate the government procurement process. The SCA works very closely with SaskBuilds to keep improving the way that government does procurement. If your company is running into issues with government procurement, please reach out to us and let us know as soon as possible.

    When the budget is released on Wednesday, March 20th, the expectation is that it will somehow be a balanced budget. Given the expectations created by the government to date, anything less than this would be a disappointment. However, my focus will be on the government’s capital investments. Are they spending more on construction or less? If they’re spending less, that is a bad sign. Given the continued economic climate in Saskatchewan, government investment in infrastructure is essential. Just as importantly, pricing remains highly competitive – which means that government is getting a good bang for its infrastructure buck.

    Stay tuned for more details on all of these files as the spring 2019 legislative session continues. We will keep members informed as progress is made.

    In closing, I just want to say thank you to the MLAs that were able to make it out to our event. It was great to connect with you, and we thank you for all the work you do on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan.

    Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

    President and CEO
    Saskatchewan Construction Association