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New Ontario Liens Act legislation promised this spring

Premier Kathleen Wynne claims new Act will modernize the industry “the right way”


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April 19, 2017 by John Bleasby

It’s been a long time coming, but based on statements made in Collingwood this past week at the recent Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) symposium, the wait may soon be over for contractors anticipating improved payment and protection laws.

“We heard about your concerns about Ontario’s Construction Lien Act, about issues with payment timelines and dispute resolution and that the law needed to be modernized but that it needed to be done in the right way,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said, adding that the new legislation should be tabled this spring that will bring Ontario’s laws up to date by modernizing the lien and holdback process. “It will be the biggest change to the Construction Lien Act since it was introduced 30 years ago.”

Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General for Ontario, stressed the importance of legislative reforms in the province’s construction industry in a release last fall. “Ontario’s construction industry is a driving force of Ontario’s economy, and modernizing our construction laws will support the more than 400,000 people who work in the industry through a new prompt payment system. Mr. Reynolds’ and Ms. Vogel’s report is a fair and thoughtful assessment of the complex challenges faced by today’s construction industry. I would like to thank them for their work, and I look forward to working with industry groups as we draft legislation that reflects their needs.”

The Ontario construction industry, notably the Council of Ontario Construction Associations’ (COCA), had been providing a great deal of feedback to Reynolds and Vogel throughout 2016, in addition to input gathered from  77 written submissions and held 30 stakeholder meetings, involving more than 60 key construction industry groups. This industry input played a big role in the forming of Reynolds/Vogel recommendations.

Read the ‘Striking the Balance’ Report of Ontario’s Liens Act

As a result of Reynolds’ and Vogel’s work, the Ontario Attorney General released a comprehensive report in January 2017 recommending legislation that included detailed payment security and dispute resolution mechanisms. Some of the recommendations included amendments to a number of complex financial issues and calculations regarding liens and mortgages. Importantly, it also included recommendations for the appointment of adjudicators in the case of disputes, and prompt payment deadlines after invoice presentation by contractors.

Liens, payment, and dispute resolution legislation varies from province to province, albeit with certain similarities. Contractors are always advised to seek legal advice concerning how such legislation affects them in the province where they work.

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