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Note... the opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the SCA.

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Since March 2020, we have begun releasing video-blogs (vlogs) from our President & CEO in place of written content.

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 videos on our YouTube Channel here.

January 7, 2020


Welcome to 2020!

My colleague Megan Jane strongly expressed her views on the turn of a new year when she said, “2019 was garbage. Bring on 2020!” Not only was it funny, but I think she captured how many of us felt last year.

Thankfully, it is no longer “last year”. It’s 2020. A time for fresh starts.

So, I say welcome to 2020!

First, I want to welcome the individuals who are new to the SCA Board of Directors in 2020:


  • Brad Barber, Clearlite Glass, Saskatoon Construction Association;
  • John Boutin, Thorpe Industries, Prince Albert Construction Association;
  • Bryce Chelsberg, C&S Builders, Moose Jaw, Advisory Council Chair;
  • Brent Cherwinski, Wallace Construction, Regina Construction Association;
  • Duane Galloway, Graham Construction, Regina, Member-at-Large; and
  • Colin Olfert, Westridge Construction, Regina, Advisory Council Vice-Chair.

Each of these individuals has committed to give their time and energy in service to our entire provincial membership and the construction industry as a whole. Most of them are also serving on at least one other Board, in addition to the time they must give to their regular work. It is no small task to serve on the SCA Board, and I hope all of our members are as grateful as I am for their time.
 
 I also want to welcome our next Board Vice-Chair, Shaun Cripps.

 Shaun previously served as the Prince Albert representative for the SCA Board. He was elected by the Board to serve as Vice-Chair for the 2020 year. Shaun is one of the owners of S&K Mechanical. Serving as Vice-Chair will mean an even bigger time commitment than Shaun has given to the SCA in the past.

 Thank you, Shaun, for taking on this responsibility. It will be great to work with you!
 

 Another Board member that deserves a welcome is our new Board Chairperson,   Miles  Dyck.

 Miles previously served as SCA Vice-Chair, and as a representative from the Regina   Construction Association. Miles is with Gang-Nail Trusses. Miles’ time commitment as Chairperson will be significant.

Thank you, Miles, for assuming this leadership role. I look forward to seeing the things the SCA will accomplish under your leadership.
 

Finally, I want to welcome you – all of our members – to join us for a brand-new networking event during Saskatchewan Construction Week (SCW) in 2020. On April 29th (SCW is April 27 to May 1) we will be hosting ConEx: The Builders Expo at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon.

It is the first and only major Trade Show & Conference focused on non-residential construction in Saskatchewan.

With more than 100 booths featuring new technologies and innovative products, ConEx will be THE place to learn about opportunities to increase your company’s edge when it comes to winning work and doing that work more efficiently and effectively.

ConEx will also feature the components of our procurement day events that our members loved so much last year. We will have presentations from public and private sector owners (including Crown corporations, ministries, cities, developers, and more) about their upcoming projects. We will also have sessions on writing winning proposals and setting your business up for success in this new world of best value procurement.

With professional development sessions delivered to support training requirements for architects and engineers, we expect a strong turnout of design consultants at ConEx.

ConEx really will be the single best place in 2020 to build new business relationships. Our goal is to give you the best possible opportunities to: find new work; win that work; and deliver it better than you have before. If any of these things are part of your corporate New Years resolutions, then you’d better be at ConEx. See you there!

 

Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association
 
December 5, 2019

Thank you - and Merry Christmas!

As the calendar turned to December, my wife Kim and I were decorating our home for Christmas, and my thoughts wandered to the many things for which I am grateful this holiday season. I thought I would share these with you in my closing blog post for 2019, along with my wish for 2020.

I am grateful for every man, woman, and company that works in the construction industry in Canada. Your work, every day, literally builds our province.

I am particularly mindful of the contributions you make to our province during the holiday season, as we all shift from work to family mode. As people in Saskatchewan travel to see their families, they drive on roads that you built. As they buy gifts for their loved ones, they visit malls and stores that you built. When they’re buying groceries, they’re visiting supermarkets you built. When they spend time in worship or celebration, they’re visiting churches, mosques, and temples that you built. Finally, when they visit their families, they’re staying in homes and hotels that you built.

You, the construction industry, make our human connections happen in the same way that you enable our economic connections. So, thank you for all that you do, and all you’ve done in 2019. I hope that 2020 will see a significant increase in activity for the construction industry. If any industry deserves a great 2020, you do.

I am also grateful for the nearly 1,000 companies that chose to be members of the SCA and our network of local associations in 2019.

In tough economic times, every company has many choices in terms of where to allocate your shrinking discretionary revenue. When you choose to invest in a membership in the network of construction associations of Saskatchewan, you’re choosing to invest in something bigger than your individual company.

It’s a noble choice, and you should be applauded for the foresight that it takes to know that building a better future in Saskatchewan takes industry players coming together and advancing shared priorities through associations.

Some of this work has come to fruition thanks to you; the unanimous passage of Prompt Payment legislation, or seeing the province to establish a goal of a maximum two-week approval period for commercial building permits, were only made possible because of your membership. Your membership is a clear sign of your commitment to leadership within the industry.

Thank you for being a leader, even when times are tough. My wish for you, our members, is that in 2020 we see more Saskatchewan construction opportunities flow to you, the companies that are committed to the success of the industry in this province. We are committed to facilitating an environment that fosters this.
 
Finally, I am grateful for the volunteers from our member companies who have stepped up to invest even more time by serving on the Board of the SCA in this past year.

Typically, the men and women who serve on the SCA Board are not only running their own companies and juggling significant family commitments, but also serving on several other Boards or committees. They invest this time because they believe in the importance of helping build the future of the industry, and they’re willing to put their time and money where their priorities are.

As we move in to 2020, there are several members of the SCA Board that will be retiring from their Board positions. I want to take a moment to express specific gratitude for each of them – a big thank you to:


  • Chris Doka (Wright Construction);
  • Jason Duke (CertaPro Painters);
  • Nick Friesen (Westridge Construction);
  • Mike Lawton (ConTech General Contractors); and
  • Ryan Leech (Brxton Masonry).

The SCA is a stronger organization for having each of you on the Board, and you will all be missed. My wish for each of you is that you’re able to enjoy some of the free time that you will have now that you don’t have to read the SCA Board briefing packages! Hopefully, instead of filling this time with more commitments, you can fill it with family and friends. You each deserve that.

With 2020 right around the corner, my wish for all of you who read this is for great happiness, success, and fulfillment in your lives. Thank you for everything you do for Saskatchewan. Thank you for your leadership. May 2020 bring you true joy.
 
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!


Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association
 
November 7, 2019

It's Time for the Saskatchewan Growth Plan

Next week, in Saskatoon, Premier Scott Moe will unveil the provincial government’s growth plan for the next decade. Looking out to 2030, the plan will build off the goals announced in the October 23rd Throne Speech:

  • 1.4 million people living in Saskatchewan by 2030; and
  • 100,000 more people working in the province by 2030.

To achieve these targets, Saskatchewan will need to hit a much higher rate of growth than we are experiencing today. The ambition reflected in these goals is necessary and good.

Unfortunately, today in Saskatchewan, the economy is hurting. This is primarily a result of a decline in private sector investment driven by shaken investor and consumer confidence.

The banks in Saskatchewan all report that commercial deposits are up significantly. This is an indication that companies are holding on to their money, instead of investing it, even though it’s historically inexpensive to both borrow and build right now.

As a facilitator of economic growth, the construction sector depends on consumer and investor confidence to drive growth. People need to feel more positive about the future of Saskatchewan in order to spend money building homes, recreation/municipal facilities, commercial spaces, and even industrial sites.

Our industry, like other service industries, has a direct interest in supporting efforts that boost economic confidence. That’s why things like the provincial growth plan are so important. The growth plan is not just a plan, it is also a signal.

When the province unveils a ten-year plan for growth of the economy, it acts as a catalyst for discussions and actions across the province. It gives everyone a focal point for a future that today seems too uncertain.

One thing that the SCA will be doing, with other partners in the construction space, is developing an industry-specific strategy for growth. This strategy will build on the goals/objectives of the provincial plan. The hope is that the strategy will identify the things that the industry can do to position itself effectively to support a return to strong economic growth in Saskatchewan. This strategy will be developed over the next few months. We will be asking for your input, so stay tuned.

The underlying realities of Saskatchewan’s economy (we have, and produce, what the world needs to fuel its growth), and the relatively low cost of borrowing and building, should be driving private investment across the province. The fact that it isn’t is particularly frustrating, but it is also mostly solvable.
 
Low commodity prices don’t help at all. High pricing can cover systemic inefficiencies, excessive or costly regulations, transportation costs, lower productivity, and high input costs. At current market pricing, these higher costs can no longer be hidden. They require public sector action, at all levels of government, to address. A new provincial growth plan, which acknowledges the role of the government in addressing these concerns, is a great place to start.

Our federal government does not seem particularly interested in Saskatchewan’s economic success. Making it more difficult to move our goods to market not only hurts Saskatchewan, but it hurts Canada as a whole. While a provincial growth plan can’t replace the damage done by the federal government, it can chart a path for success for Saskatchewan.

When the growth plan comes out next week, we should all be happy to have it. It almost doesn’t even matter WHAT is in the plan, so much as that there IS a plan. A clear signal from the provincial government that Saskatchewan hasn’t stopped believing in itself will be an important catalyst to re-energizing private investment in our province. If the province is willing to invest in itself, the rest of us can do so too.

Remember. No matter how it may feel, today really is a good day to invest and build in Saskatchewan. Tomorrow will be too, but why wait?

Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association

October 3, 2019

What Happens if the Liberals Win?

On October 21, 2019, Canadians will elect our next federal government. Today, the polls – and more importantly the seat projections – indicate that Canada will elect enough Liberal Members of Parliament for the Liberal Party of Canada to form the next government. The likelihood of this today is about 60%. The odds of a Liberal majority government are about 30%.

In coffee shops across Saskatchewan you would find some debate about whether a Liberal majority or Liberal minority is the worst possible outcome for Saskatchewan. Those who think the Liberal majority would be the worst can’t imagine another four years of a Trudeau-led Canada. While those who think the minority worse, shudder to imagine what a Trudeau-led government under the sway of an NDP or Green party might be like. Either way, a Liberal government is not perceived by most in Saskatchewan as an outcome that works in our province’s favour.

There are 18 days until Election Day, and lots can and likely will change in that time span. Here’s my question though – what if it doesn’t…

What if we wake up on October 22nd to a Trudeau-led government? How will we choose to react? How will we manage the next four years to ensure they are better than the last four?

These are important questions for us all to consider. I’m one who doesn’t believe in hoping that others will change their behavior, but rather focuses on what I can do through my own behavior – and in my limited scope of action – to make things better. Still, it’s bleak to imagine that the most likely outcome for our country is “more of the same” or even “something potentially worse.” It’s hard to remain optimistic in the face of those odds.

Fortunately, Saskatchewan people are resilient, courageous, and practitioners of the “art of the possible.” We’re not likely to give up hope in ourselves because of unrelenting headwinds from Ottawa, no matter how daunting they appear.

One of the things we may need to consider – involving both the public and private sector – is an assertive public relations campaign across Canada – especially in BC, Ontario, and Quebec – to talk about the importance of the prairie economy to Canada. I grew up in Ontario and Quebec, and I can tell you that it is still true that Saskatchewan is hardly known there at all. Central Canada’s vision of the nation is still very much stuck in an Upper and Lower Canada mentality that doesn’t extend much beyond the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence Seaway.

I do believe, call me an eternal optimist, that this can change though.

CBC recently reported on a study done by the University of Calgary that looked at the importance of the Alberta economy to Canada. The study noted that due to Alberta’s recession, Canada lost out on $130 Billion per year.  That’s just from Alberta. While the Saskatchewan impact would have been much less, there is no question that Canada as a whole benefits when the prairie economy is strong. We need to do a better job of delivering this message to people across Canada.

Efforts in this area have certainly started. The oil sector, and Alberta, have invested heavily in promotion and marketing. We should follow their lead.

I don’t want to give up hope that Canada can work. The truth is that the prairie economy cannot succeed without access to tidewater, and that won’t happen without engagement and support from our neighbours. We have to find a way to win their hearts and minds.

If fortune prevails and we wake up on October 22nd to a different political outcome than the polls anticipate, that is something to celebrate for sure. Regardless of the outcome though, we should never stop promoting Saskatchewan and selling the fact that without the prairie economy, Canada doesn’t work. We all need to be in this together.

Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association
 

September 5, 2019

Workers Compensation Board - Reasons for Optimism

Earlier this week I met with the new CEO of the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), Phil Germain. Phil was an inspired selection by the WCB Board of Directors and will be a change-driving leader at WCB. It was wonderful to sit down with him and learn more about his vision for the future.

Many of you may remember Phil as the Vice-President of Prevention and Employer Services at WCB, a role he held for the last seven years. In that role Phil was often the recipient of pointed and challenging criticism from industry/employer representatives such as myself. Many industries have struggled with what has often been perceived as a culture at WCB that was biased against employers. While this perception may not have been reality, we certainly heard many stories from employers in the construction industry that would make even the most ardent WCB supporter wonder.

Phil was always a gracious and engaged listener, who understood the concerns of employers and was always sympathetic and solution-oriented. As someone who did, to some extent, serve as an advocate within WCB for the interests of employers, Phil was the perfect hire for the CEO position when he took office in June.

When I met with Phil, he spoke to me of his vision for a WCB that leads the country once again, and in particular through the creation of a customer-centric culture. WCB has two customers they serve – workers and employers. From our perspective, and yours, WCB has been underserving the employer side for some time. I get the strong sense that under Phil’s leadership, this concern will be addressed.

Phil outlined a plan to ensure that the customer-centric culture ensures that the WCB teams are considering the perspectives of their various customers – including employers – as a more common daily business perspective. Implementing a “voice of the customer” initiative at WCB is one of the starting points for this effort. For those unfamiliar with this type of initiative, it is designed to capture customer expectations, likes and dislikes. Typically, these initiatives produce a detailed set of customer wants and needs that can be prioritized and acted on.

He also discussed plans to ensure that WCB is learning from the best practices at other compensation organizations across North America, and then implementing those practices here in Saskatchewan. If you really want to create an industry-leading organization, this is a great place to start.

In addition to the changes that Phil is looking to implement at WCB, there is also change coming from the Legislature. Sometime in the next year we expect Minister Don Morgan to initiate a call for nominees for the four new part-time WCB Board positions. Two of these positions will be for employers and two for workers. These new Board positions will be focused on governance oversight at WCB and should be able to be currently involved in industry – meaning their knowledge of employer/worker engagement with WCB will be current and fresh.

At the SCA we will work to ensure that one of the employer representatives comes from the construction sector, and we will also be encouraging the government to ensure that at least one of the worker representatives comes from a non-unionized environment. Unfortunately, today, open shop workers have no representation on the WCB despite making up as much as 85% of the workforce. We stand together with Merit Contractors in wanting to make sure that this representative imbalance changes.

Back to Phil for a moment though, as I close this blog post. Phil’s plans are welcome news to employers that have found the culture at WCB to fall short of their expectations. I’m confident in Phil’s leadership, his vision and his passion for improvement at WCB. There are indeed exciting times ahead at WCB and for the first time in a while, I’m optimistic that employers may get the service and support from WCB that they deserve.


Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association
 
August 1, 2019

The Future is Almost Here

Prompt Payment

This week Global News reported that some sub-contractors working at the Chinook Power Station claim they have gone months without being paid for completed work.

This is precisely the type of situation that prompt payment legislation is designed to address. Sub-contractors shouldn’t be held hostage in disputes that don’t relate to their scope of work. Without a prompt payment remedy, these sub-contractors have no effective or quick method to challenge non-payment. This often means contractors must continue to work without being paid or be in breach of contract. Thankfully this will no longer be the case once prompt payment legislation is in force by this time next year.

If you believe in the importance of prompt payment, and you believe that no segment of construction should be exempt from prompt payment rules – then you should take a few minutes to tell the Government of Saskatchewan that. They’re asking for feedback now via this consultation document.

I want you to pay specific attention to Question #3 and Question #6. Question #3 asks which sectors may require an extended payment period – as in, who needs more than a month to pay their bills once a proper invoice is submitted? We believe the answer should be that NO SECTOR requires an extended payment period. Question #6 asks which sectors or individuals should be exempt from prompt payment rules? We believe the answer should be NO ONE should be exempt.

If you agree with our position, please email maria.markatos@gov.sk.ca and share your perspective. Make sure your email references the Prompt Payment consultation and be specific about which questions you’re answering.

If you do send an email response, please let us know by also emailing sca@scaonline.ca to confirm.
It’s bizarre that we need to keep making the case about exemptions within this legislation but, at the end of the day, there are a lot of people that would prefer not to be compelled to pay their bills. Let’s make sure the voices of the people they’re not paying are heard.

Growth Plan

Last month we asked you for your input regarding the growth priorities for Saskatchewan over the next decade. This was in response to the Government of Saskatchewan’s request for support in building the next provincial economic growth plan.

We got feedback from both members and partners. We collated that information and prepared a response that focused on ensuring growth and investor confidence – both of which create construction demand and opportunity. You can review our submission here.

Our submission focused on three priorities:

  1. Investment attraction and retention;
  2. Competitiveness; and
  3. Supplier development.
For each priority, we made a series of recommendations that were designed to support Saskatchewan’s economic growth and be minimally challenging for the government to introduce. We focused on ideas that don’t cost much in terms of new money, and that can be implemented quickly.

Our goal was to make sure that the industries that drive economic success in Saskatchewan: mining; oil and gas; manufacturing; agriculture and agri-value have access to competitive tax and regulatory environments with sufficient new investment to stimulate and sustain growth. Meanwhile, we want to make sure that it is Saskatchewan companies that can prosper from the opportunities that this growth brings.

We look forward to continued discussion with the government in the coming weeks about their new growth plan. We will make sure that the perspective of the construction industry is acknowledged in the development of this plan.

If you have ideas or thoughts on what the government can be doing to support growth in Saskatchewan, let us know.

Saskatchewan has a bright future - but we've got work to do to make sure our province and our industry meet their potential.



Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association


July 4, 2019

 

What are Saskatchewan's Top Economic Priorities?


There are 61 seats in the Saskatchewan Legislative assembly. 48 of those seats are held by the Saskatchewan Party, which has now governed our province for nearly 12 years. The next provincial election is 15 months away – scheduled for October 26, 2020. The most likely outcome is another majority SaskParty government, which will make it the third time in Saskatchewan’s history that a governing party has won four consecutive majority victories at the polls. This is no small feat.
 
With the SaskParty’s continued dominance in rural Saskatchewan, it is reasonable to assume that they may be our governing party for decades to come. So, when their caucus starts asking questions about 2030 and our economic priorities, we should all take them seriously.
 
And right now, that is exactly what they are doing – they are asking a few key questions of Saskatchewan residents and businesses. We’re hoping you’ll spend five minutes to provide your input.
 
Over the next few weeks, Premier Scott Moe has asked his 47 colleagues to fan out across the province and gather feedback from constituents. With a caucus retreat scheduled for early August, the month of July is an important time to get our message through to MLAs.

Between now and the end of July, the SCA will:

  • Get your feedback about growth priorities for Saskatchewan (link below);
  • Assemble feedback from across the industry into common priorities and submit it to the consultation;
  • Share these priorities with you; and
  • Encourage you to provide a submission to the consultation process too.


Here’s why you should take a few moments to tell us what you think

SaskParty MLAs are looking to do two things with this consultation: (1) begin developing the parameters for a new Growth Plan for Saskatchewan; and (2) identify potential priorities for their 2020 election platform. As an industry, construction needs to be a key voice in this effort. The more input they receive from construction, the better.
 
When we speak to others about construction, we frequently explain that the construction industry is not a driver of economic growth, but rather an enabler of growth. Every sector of the economy and our society relies on construction to turn investment into productivity, so there is a mutually dependent relationship between construction and other sectors. Growth cannot happen without a robust and efficient construction industry. We always encourage the government to develop sector-based strategies for such growth driving industries as: agriculture; mining; oil and gas; manufacturing; and technology. At the same time, we remind them that you can’t have a strategy for any of these sectors without considering the role of construction.
 
With that in mind, today I am asking for you – our members – to share your thoughts on what the priorities for growth should be for Saskatchewan in the next decade. The SaskParty is looking out to 2030 in the development of their plan, so let’s use that same time frame.
 
Please take a few minutes to provide your answers to the following questions. We’ll collect the feedback, summarize it, send it on to the government, and report back to you on what we heard. We’ll also provide every respondent with more details on how you can submit your ideas directly to the SaskParty consultation.
 
Let’s make sure that the voice of the construction industry is heard clearly and that your perspectives are top-of-mind for the SaskParty MLAs when they meet for their retreat next month.

Saskatchewan Growth Priorities 

Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association
 

June 6, 2019

PA Tribute to Kerry and Thank You


This blog comes to you from Elk Ridge resort in Waskesiu, as I my June blog does most years. It’s 2019 SCA Summer Meeting – our annual exclusive gathering of just over 200 leaders from Saskatchewan’s construction industry. Every year this event is a wonderful opportunity to get together with old friends, make new ones, build great (if sometimes fuzzy) memories, and discuss the things that matter most to our member companies. The level of engagement, the volume of networking, and the intimate and remote nature of the venue makes this a can’t miss event in Saskatchewan’s building industry.

As our guests arrived yesterday and today, and as excited as I am about this year’s event, it is hard not to feel a weight of sadness about recent events. As many of you will have heard by now, long-time SCA member Kerry DePape, President of R.L. Cushing Millwork, was killed in a plane accident last weekend along with two other community standouts from the City of Moose Jaw.

Kerry had been directly involved in the industry at a local, provincial, national, and international level for more than 25 years. Kerry was warm, thoughtful, engaged, and engaging. Our industry is poorer for his passing.

I will always remember Kerry fondly. I met him early in my tenure at the SCA and was immediately drawn to him. He was a passionate and community-minded leader. He was the type of person who never hesitated to give back or to support his community and the industry he loved. Every encounter I had with Kerry was positive. His candor and demeanor always energized me and left me confident that the work I was doing mattered – and that member companies appreciated it. For that, I will always be grateful. Kerry – thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all you did on behalf of Saskatchewan’s construction industry. You will be dearly and genuinely missed. Kerry’s family, friends, and community have our sincerest condolences.

Here, at the beautiful Elk Ridge resort, I can reflect that one of the amazing things about life is the spectacular people we have the opportunity to meet, get to know, work with, and collaborate with. Our Summer Meeting is filled with individuals that share many of the same qualities that made Kerry so special. Women and men who have given so much of their lives in support of growing communities and an industry that they are deeply passionate about. Like Kerry, most of them are humble people. They’ve literally spent their lives building Saskatchewan and improving the quality of lives of fellow citizens – and if you met them on the street you wouldn’t have any idea.

It has been, and remains, the privilege of my life and career to serve as President of the Saskatchewan Construction Association. It is a privilege because of people like Kerry. And people like you. You make Saskatchewan a better place to live, work, and play. I hope you know and appreciate how much your contributions really matter. And how much they will continue to matter long after we are gone.

Thank you. All of you.

Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association

May 6, 2019

Prompt Payment for Your Business


Prompt payment has arrived in Saskatchewan, thanks to a unanimous vote in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.

So, what does this mean for your business?

Well, the bill that was passed relies on a yet-to-be-developed regulatory framework administered by an Authority that has not yet been formally appointed. So, there is no immediate impact.

But the law will have a significant impact on how you can operate your business in the months and years ahead. It will provide contractors with tools to communicate clearly with owners about their payment cycles and manage relationships when payments are not forthcoming.

How Prompt Payment Works

Once the regulations and governing bodies are established, prompt payment will require all contract-based construction work in Saskatchewan to have an invoicing cycle in the contract. If they do not, a default invoicing cycle of “monthly” will apply.

In each invoicing cycle – whether it’s monthly, 45 days, 60 days – the general contractor will provide the owner with a proper invoice. A proper invoice differs from a regular invoice or a subcontractor to general contractor invoice in that it is part of the prime contract schedule. A proper invoice cannot be contingent on any prior approval or certification from the owner or their representatives.

General contractors will need to manage their subs and all invoice timing accordingly, in order to ensure that all applicable work eligible to be included in the proper invoice is included. The proper invoice starts the prompt payment clock. From the date of proper invoice, an owner has 28 days to pay the proper invoice.

Once a general contractor has been paid on a proper invoice, they have 7 days to pay their subcontractors. Those subcontractors then have 7 days to pay their subcontractors and suppliers. This 7-day cycle cascades down the supply chain until all parties are paid. If you have lien rights on a project, prompt payment rights apply to you as well.

If an owner contests any part of a proper invoice they must file a notice of dispute with the general contractor within 14 days of the proper invoice date. Any notice of dispute must include what is being contested and why. The remaining portion of the proper invoice remains due at the 28-day deadline.

So, for example, if an owner is contesting $25,000 worth of lighting on a $100,000 proper invoice, the remaining $75,000 of the invoice is still due at 28 days and the dispute will not impact the mechanical, electrical, drywall, glazing, or other trade-scope work included on the invoice. This limits the scope of disputes and keeps projects moving by ensuring all satisfactory work is paid, despite other concerns or disputes.

Adjudication

When a dispute does arise, the process to address it should always be to discuss the problem and negotiate a solution all parties can agree to. However, when this cannot be achieved, prompt payment provides a timeline and process to bring in a neutral third-party to adjudicate the matter.

Adjudicators will need to be part of a prescribed list and owners and contractors will have the opportunity to jointly select an adjudicator where possible. Adjudicators cannot be pre-selected or prescribed in the contract.

If parties to an adjudication cannot agree on an adjudicator, the Authority – the body that will manage the process – will appoint an adjudicator for them.

When an owner files a notice of dispute, a general contractor will have until the 28-day deadline to file for adjudication. If they fail to do so, they must either pay the affected subtrade(s) or the affected subtrade(s) can file for adjudication against the general contractor at the 7-day mark when they were entitled to payment under prompt payment timeline provisions.

This gives a 3-week window from notice of dispute until someone is likely filing an adjudication. This gives general and trade contractors – and, frankly, owners – a lot more incentive to talk than they have today. It also gives contractors throughout the supply chain more reason to communicate clearly at every phase of the project and invoicing process.

Now, once an adjudication is under way, all parties will have 5 days to submit their claim paperwork and opinions to the adjudicator. The adjudicator may accept further paperwork after that 5-day window – but they are not required to do so. Nor will adjudicators do their work in the dark, so to speak. If an adjudicator has questions, they will call. If an adjudicator needs an expert opinion, they will enlist an expert for advice and bill that as part of their services.

The cost of adjudication will be assigned equally to the parties to the adjudication. However, if an adjudicator feels that one party acted in bad faith, they may assign some greater portion – all the way up to 100% - of the cost to the offending party. Adjudicators have broad discretion in billing and other matters.

Once the 5-day period to supply paperwork has elapsed, an adjudicator will have 30 days to provide a ruling. Extensions are possible, if both parties and the adjudicator agree.

Once an adjudicator has delivered a ruling, any money owing must be paid within 10 days. Failure to pay will enable contractors to both (1) take the ruling to a court to compel payment, and (2) leave the job site without penalty. The contractor cannot be replaced, and the non-paying party will be responsible for reasonable costs of de-mobilization and remobilization.

Our hope and expectation is that vanishingly few situations would ever get that far. Prompt payment is far more likely to change behavior by changing the processes of construction contracting and the advice owners receive.

In any case, if one does the math (28+5+30+10), it is a minimum of 73 days before any contractor is leaving a jobsite due to persistent delay in payment. What the process does do is enable contractors to take some action immediately and, hopefully, keep conversations and projects moving while differences are worked out.

Conclusion

Now, I need to be clear, that everything I know today is subject to change – but the system overall will somewhat resemble what I’ve laid out here. That means it will not ensure payment – you still need to manage your business. It also means you will need to be more diligent than many contractors are today about contract management.

But in the end, prompt payment will provide even small contractors with the ability to contest delayed payments to a neutral third-party for a binding, enforceable ruling without the full cost of legal action or the lengthy years-long delays that are typical when courts are involved.


John Lax

Director of Advocacy and Communications
Saskatchewan Construction Association

May 2, 2019

Prompt Payment Arrives in Saskatchewan


Today, May 2, 2019, the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan approved third reading of The Builders’ Lien (Prompt Payment) Amendment Act, 2018, passing the bill into law.

This bill is the result of three years of hard work by the SCA and its industry partners, particularly those of Prompt Payment Saskatchewan. The passage of this bill makes Saskatchewan the third province in Canada with legislation in place.

This is a significant step towards improving basic business fairness for thousands of contractors and the construction sector in the province.

This legislation was introduced by the Government of Saskatchewan in response to concerns raised by the construction industry. Contractors and constructions firms were facing growing struggles from delayed payment for completed and satisfactory work, so advancing prompt payment became the top priority of Saskatchewan’s construction sector. We are very happy to help the government deliver on this vital issue.

Prompt payment legislation helps address a fundamental imbalance between the owners of construction projects and the contractors who build them. Before prompt payment legislation, owners were not in breach of contract if they chose to delay paying their contractors; but those contractors who were not being paid for their work had few tools at their disposal to compel fair payment. In fact, if a contractor slowed work, or put tools down they would be in breach and would face legal consequences. Effectively they were forced to work for free; this wasn’t fair.

Prompt payment begins to rebalance the relationship by providing effective tools for contractors to rely on in working with their customers to communicate, securing payment, and keeping projects on track.

Prompt payment does not solve every issue when it comes to delayed payment for contractors. No single piece of legislation can. If a project owner runs out of funding for a project, contractors still won’t be paid. However, under the new legislation contractors will be able to walk off the job to cut their losses. As well, contractors will have the opportunity to force an adjudication hearing earlier in the process to move payment forward more quickly. You will no longer have to wait patiently in the hopes of getting paid. This is a significant improvement over the status-quo.

The legislation passed with the support of both the Government and Opposition MLAs, showing the effectiveness of our advocacy efforts for the construction sector. I want to personally thank both Minister Don Morgan and MLA Trent Wotherspoon for their work on this file on behalf of our industry. We don’t always agree on everything, but I am truly grateful that we have elected officials willing to listen to industry voices and make changes when necessary.

So, what happens next?

There is no firm date for the bill to come into force yet, but we expect it will be within the next twelve months and perhaps as early as the end of this calendar year.

The SCA and our Prompt Payment Saskatchewan coalition are already at work developing the adjudication framework as directed by Minister Morgan. Our legal team will be meeting with him this weekend to discuss next steps. We expect the draft framework to be available for consultation within about a month or so.

We understand that the Ministry of Justice will be conducting a series of public consultations, likely online, to solicit feedback on the regulatory framework. This will likely happen over the summer. We will need significant contractor support in delivering input through the consultation and will provide you with more details as we have them.

I think we can expect to have the regulations completed by the early fall, and it is possible that the new legislation could be in force as early as the end of 2019.

The SCA and our coalition will begin providing training on the new legislation this summer. Stay tuned for more details as this develops.

One thing you need to know is that when the legislation does finally come in to force, it will only apply to new contracts signed after that date. Any contracts in process will still fall outside of the prompt payment provisions. For that reason, we will be pushing for as early an “in force” date as we can.

If you have any questions about any of this – and like you, we still do too – contact John Lax at the SCA. John is our resident expert on prompt payment. He can be reached at johnl@scaonline.ca or 306-525-0171.

You can also reach out to me directly.

We will keep you informed as new developments occur.

In the meantime, today is a good day to celebrate a big step forward for Saskatchewan contractors. With this legislation in place, you are that much closer to having the tools you will need to make sure that payment flows quickly for work you’ve satisfactorily completed. It’s about time.



Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

President and CEO
Saskatchewan Construction Association

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