News

  • SKCA's Quarterly Advocacy Update

    June 2021

    By Mark Cooper, President and CEO, Saskatchewan Construction Association

    The primary purpose of the SKCA is to represent and advocate on behalf of the interests of Saskatchewan’s construction industry, and more specifically the members of our association. In service to this purpose, your association spends a lot of time and energy focused on improving economic conditions, removing impediments to your success, and building relationships. Each quarter, we like to provide you with an update on the major issues we are focused on right now. As always, if you would like to talk with me about any of these, please reach out to president@scaonline.ca.

    Supply Chain Disruptions: We Hear You

    We have been hearing from many members that ongoing supply chain disruptions are wreaking havoc on the industry. Whether it is lumber, steel, plastic, or other components, everything seems to be difficult to order and get delivered. As a result, we are seeing major concerns about the timeline for contract awards, price inflation, and schedule delays.

    We have been discussing this issue with the CCA, with our partner associations across the country, with the Government of Saskatchewan, and with other industry partners in Saskatchewan. The Industry Advisory Council held an emergency meeting in mid May to identify opportunities to support companies and the industry as we all deal with this global issue. Members, designers, and owners alike can download the bulletin we put together what the issues are, why this is happening, and advice on how to best mitigate your risk.

    Prompt Payment: The Waiting Game

    While we hoped that Prompt Payment legislation would come in to force on April 1 of this year, we are still waiting for final confirmation from the provincial Ministry of Justice on when we can expect the law coming into effect.
     
    There was a multi-month delay because the Government of Saskatchewan was not willing to provide financial support for the Adjudication Authority that must be set up to enable the conduct of adjudications. Misty Alexandre with Robertson Stromberg LLP does an excellent job expanding on this in her article on page 22 of our summer issue of We Build magazine.

    Fortunately, working with our local association partners the SKCA has submitted a proposal to support the creation of the Authority that does not require any financial contributions from the government. We are hoping that we will receive confirmation of the approval of this proposal within the next month or so, with the idea that the legislation could then come into force by September 1st of this year.

    As we learn more about the province’s intentions with respect to the legislation, we will keep our members informed. Once a coming into force date has been confirmed, we will also be ensuring that members get access to a number of training and information sessions.

    Combatting Onerous Contract Conditions

    Through the Industry Advisory Council, the SKCA is tackling the issue of onerous contract conditions. With a working group of industry leaders, a series of one-page briefing documents that outline specific issues and propose remedies for addressing them. Issues being addressed include excessive indemnity clauses, unknown (pandemic) conditions, soil and site conditions, non-legislated holdback, and contract award delays.

    Once the working group has finalized the list of contract issues and developed these one-page briefings, they will begin working on a series of information sessions to educate various parties to the construction supply chain about these issues. Much of the work being done by the working group has been borrowed from similar work done by the Alberta Construction Association and by the Ontario General Contractors Association.

    If you have examples of onerous contract clauses that you have seen, please send them to us at sca@scaonline.ca so that we can add them to the list of clauses we are tackling this year.

    Public Procurement Improvements

    The SKCA continues to lead the way in discussions between the Government of Saskatchewan and the private sector when it comes to improving the procurement practices of Saskatchewan’s public sector. We engage heavily, and nearly on a daily basis with officials at SaskBuilds and across the provincial crowns. Much of our effort is focused on what can be done to ensure that Saskatchewan-based companies achieve maximum success when bidding on government work.

    In addition to the focus on the province, the SKCA is also working to better engage with municipalities across the province. This summer we are developing a procurement guide for municipalities that will match the strength of best value procurement with the benefits of better local engagement early in the procurement process and with the practicalities of running a small municipal government.

    With a closer partnership between the SKCA and our local association partners, we will be pursuing opportunities to expand the reach of the electronic planroom and ensure that more information is available to members to make it easier for you to find and win work.

    Investment Attraction

    Long-term and strong economic growth in Saskatchewan requires a full return of private sector investment. Public spending alone is not enough to really get the economy moving with all cylinders firing. Given that construction is a service industry that depends on this investment to drive activity, it makes sense for our industry to be heavily focused on attracting that investment.

    With that in mind, the SKCA and the Industry Advisory Council created a working group to improve Saskatchewan’s performance when it comes to this attraction of investment. In 2021, the working group is focused on building a strong coalition of other business association partners who wish to work on this issue. We are also developing a list of Saskatchewan’s assets and strengths, and our liabilities and weaknesses, when it comes to investment attraction, all with a goal of positioning Saskatchewan to successfully compete for and win more investment opportunities. Additionally, we have been hosting quarterly economic update sessions with key industry experts on opportunities for Saskatchewan and out-of-the-box ideas for our province’s success. These sessions are free for members to attend, more information can be found in our Member Update.

    There are lots of examples, both around the world, and here in Canada, of jurisdictions that are successful at attracting investment. Saskatchewan does not have to reinvent the wheel, but our work in 2020 on this topic made it clear that we do have work to do as a province. There is not enough coordination between provincial, municipal, and private sector parties when it comes to investment. Shockingly, Saskatchewan does not have enough certifiable and ready-to-use industrial land. These are solvable problems. The SKCA intends to be part of the group to propose and implement solutions, and to support the driving of more investment into our province. This investment will spur more construction activity, which will be good for our industry, and our members.

    Strengthening Relationships with Owners and Design Consultants

    This year the SKCA partnered with KPMG to launch a new initiative called the Infrastructure Owner Forum (IOF). Borrowed from our sister association the Edmonton Construction Association, the IOF brings together public and private sector asset owners to provide them with a forum for dialogue and discussion about common issues, challenges, and owner best practices. The SKCA supports and administers the group and is at the table for all discussions. The IOF will enable lots of engagement with key asset owners from across the public sector and the private sector.

    On the design consultant side, the SKCA is working with Saskatchewan-based architects to help them create an advocacy committee that can work to lobby on behalf of local Architects. As the association supporting this architect committee, we will be directly connected to the issues and priorities of local Architects and will have the opportunity to raise industry priorities with them.

    SupplierLink Saskatchewan

    In May, the SKCA officially launched Saskatchewan’s first ever construction-focused vendor management system. We called it SupplierLink Saskatchewan, and I am very happy to note that, at the time of writing this, the system has met with very strong early success. SupplierLink was created in partnership with our technology partner EHS Analytics.

    It is a web-based platform that enables the buyers of construction services, wherever they are in the construction supply chain, to connect with the suppliers of those services.

    It was created to change the game for trade contractors, enabling them to showcase their services to any general contractor and/or owner, and only need to maintain one profile for one low price per year.
    Of course, it will not just help trade contractors, it will also make the lives of buyers (general contractors and owners) easier too. The system will let them find new suppliers that they have never connected with before, to manage their existing list of suppliers, and to better organize and understand the data and information about each of their suppliers.

    The system includes an ever-expanding list of externally validated data points, such as WCB clearance and COR certification. The system keeps these data points updated for suppliers, and buyers can rest assured that this information is accurate thanks to automated external verification.

    I am confident that in time, SupplierLink will achieve the objectives the SKCA set out to achieve with this platform. Those objectives included to: (1) push back against the rise of expensive and cumbersome third-party verification systems like ISNet in the public sector in Saskatchewan; and (2) to create a mechanism that would enable owners to standardize the process of contractor pre-qualification.

    The combination of a great system, at a far-below market price, with strong industry adoption to date, and the advocacy push of the SKCA will all help ensure the success of SupplierLink. I would encourage you to find out more about the system by visiting www.supplierlinksk.ca, or reaching out to us directly.

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