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Prompt payment legislation is the top priority for the CISC

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by Richard Gilbert

The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) has asked federal ministers and parliamentarians from all political parties to support local procurement policies, prompt payment of trades and global free trade.
Prompt payment legislation is the top priority for the CISC

"We took a national delegation of CISC members and associates from right across the country to Ottawa and met with the government and all political parties," said Tareq Ali, CISC director of marketing, communications and membership services.

"We went there as a national organization with one voice and national messages. Wherever we could, we matched our members and associates with their own constituents."

Ali said the CISC delegation met with both government and opposition parties during an initiative called "Steel Construction Day on the Hill" last month.

The first priority on the CISC's list of issues is federal prompt payment legislation.

"Federal prompt payment is one of the biggest issues for the construction industry," said Ali.

"It affects all trades and the ability of contractors, who are small and medium-sized contractors that really depend on cash flow. We believe in prompt payment for everybody and legislation should mandate that."

The second priority for the CISC is infrastructure and local procurement and the $53 billion New Building Canada Plan for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure.

The plan was set in the 2015 federal budget and includes the $14 billion New Building Canada Fund, which provides stable infrastructure funding for a 10-year period.

"For a Canadian government fund project, particularly in infrastructure, natural resources and public-private partnerships (P3), we would like the federal government to develop policies that require Canadian content," said Ali.

"From the perspective of the steel construction industry, if we are building large projects like the Champlain Bridge, which is a large infrastructure project funded by the federal government, it should have Canadian content attached to them."

The federal government recently finalized a $4.2 billion P3 deal with the Signature on the Saint-Lawrence (SSL) Group for the Champlain Bridge project.

SNC-Lavalin has a 50 per cent ownership share in SSL, which will be involved in the design, construction, financing, operation and rehabilitation of the corridor, including the new Champlain Bridge. In addition, the project includes a new smaller bridge for Île-des-Soeurs and other work.

According to Ali, this type of project should use Canadian steel and fabricators, instead of importing the steel from offshore markets.

"We want the Canadian content to be encouraged and required through royalty rebates in the natural resource sector," said Ali.

"It's about encouraging local procurement."

The CISC argues this a great way to stimulate the economy, create jobs, spur investment, promote innovation and keep manufacturing in Canada.

The third priority issue for the CISC is a stronger system to ensure free and fair trade practices by Canada's trading partners in collaboration with the steel industry.

This key priority was outlined in the 2015 federal budget in February.

"What is being taken away from us is the ability to have access, compete and thrive in a free and fair local market place," said Ali.

"We have countries that are blocking us from access to their markets, but getting open access to our market. We have countries and companies that are involved in unfair trade practices. We want the federal government to adopt the reciprocal procurement act."

Ali said this means Canada will respect current trade agreements with different countries, while the federal government reserves the right to prohibit the procurement of products and services from countries that prevent Canadian firms from having access to their markets.

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