Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

The GarCon protest: "Glad to see these particular trades standing arm in arm with the homeowners."

Canadian Contractor

Drywall contractor Sean Keane, famously suing the WSIB for putting him out of business, says he is glad to see subtrades picketing, arm-in-arm with homeowners, against GarCon Building Group

Here’s a comment from drywall contractor Sean Keane about Adam Gardin of GarCon Building Group, who became a big news story earlier this week when employees, subtrades and homeowners picketed his house for allegedly hosing them.

“Re: Your blow out story about homeowners and trades being stiffed. Without paying any disrespect to the homeowners that are facing this turmoil, I wonder if it was not for the strife of these homeowners would the mainstream media, i.e., the Toronto Star, even have put so much weight behind the story…

I reviewed this guy’s website and I noticed he was part of a few associations but, more importantly, the Tarion badge is clearly displayed. Are any of these homeowners protected by Tarion and to what extent, if they are? Something these homeowners could definitely benefit from.

We as trades and suppliers continue to face this dilemma on a daily basis. You bid a job; if you’re low bid you get it. Then the worry starts: Will you get paid? As noted by the electrician in the GarCon story, once you’re in deep enough your next fear is if you try and force payment you are at risk of losing it all. A sad reality. There is never any issue when you are doing the work. However, when you fight to get paid, back charges, deficiencies and threats soon surface.


The cost to go the legal route is cumbersome. You need to weigh the probabilities. As stated by the electrician, if you’re owed $35k you must accept to sue for $25k which is the maximum amount for the cheapest route in small claims court (in Ontario). The other route is time consuming and costly: the case can be tied up for years. Trust me, I have been there, done that. I have, besides my WSIB case in front of the courts (now entering its fifth year), two other cases (the cause directly relating to my WSIB issue) in front of the courts now going on three years.

This is the reality in our industry. I was glad to see these particular trades standing arm and arm with these homeowners. We can only hope that more and more come forward with their horror stories and finally make our government pay attention. We don’t need any more nanny state laws like the never ending attack on smokers, the introduction of entities like the Ontario College of Trades, or the continued protection of failed institutions like the WSIB. We need our elected officials to enact some legislation that will protect its people from this form of financial tyranny.”


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3 Comments » for The GarCon protest: "Glad to see these particular trades standing arm in arm with the homeowners."
  1. Terry Ferguson says:

    Well Said Sean !

  2. Gadjet says:

    I’m thinking I have a resolution to this issue, it is a bit more complex, but already in use in many other industries, like real estate. A new vocation, a building agent. Basically a third party, the homeowner or builder puts ALL the money required in the hands of a legal agent, the money is held in legal trust, and dispensed to the trade(s) on completion of tasks. If there is disagreement between the homeowner / builder, the agent resolves it by using industry standards, using arbitration, or a building or trade inspector or perhaps by hiring a third party “expert” if required. If the work is deemed “wanting” the trade must bring it up to code, if the work is deemed sufficient the trade gets paid. This would protect both the homeowner / builder and the trade(s). There would be no need for gov’t intervention, gov’t entities could be disbanded, along with their expensive unwarranted fees. One fee, would be paid for by the trade and the homeowner / builder “equally” to the agent. At that point, I do not believe it would come to a legal battle, but If it did have to go “court” the agent would be a valuable asset to both parties.
    The point being, a homeowner / builder would not be able to stiff the trade if the trade has done their job, all the money required is held in trust by a third unbiased party. The money is in trust, before any work commences. The trade must perform and complete the job before payment, or at least, agreed upon stages, for larger projects. A important point, if the homeowner / builder, or the trade goes in , intending to stiff or screw the other guy, it can not happen!
    This idea could go further, the trade could have to put up a performance “bond” to protect the homeowner / builder. If the trade does damage that requires repair and does not want to fulfill his end, the money in the bond would be able to hire someone for the homeowner / builder to make it right.

  3. Kit Godin says:

    As a licensed electrical contractor, I have looked into this in the past and it is very simple. I have never used it, but I wanted a system of payment when I was dealing with a customer that I had no track record with. I contacted my notary public with this situation and she said that if the total funds for job were deposited with her, that she would charge $100 (total for entire job) to dispense the funds as stipulated by the contract. As an electrician that might be when the service was due for connection, after rough-in, on final and the 10% hold back for lien time . These payments would be out of the control of the homeowner or the contractor as the payments would be made when the electrical safety authority inspector had issued the inspection certificate for that portion of the work. The electrician couldn’t get paid until it passed, and the homeowner could not stop the payment to the contractor. It should work for any trade or work, with a little tweeking. But the job would have to be legitimate, ie with permits, etc. not a cash job.

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