October 26 2019 Blog

The Low-Down on Construction – October 26, 2018

On October 24th, the Fall sitting of the Saskatchewan Legislature kicked off with the traditional reading of the Speech from the Throne, where the government – through the Lieutenant-Governor – outlines in broad terms their priorities for the province over the next few months. This was Premier Moe’s first Throne Speech as Premier, and as expected his focus remains returning to a balanced budget.

There were not many surprises in the Throne Speech this year. The province still faces challenges from depressed oil prices due in large part to a lack of pipeline capacity which limits our province’s and country’s ability to get this important export to the world for world prices. Continued tariffs on our steel products, an overall slowdown in potash and uranium exports, and a looming carbon tax all dampen economic activity here.

As we have written about previously, MERIT is looking forward to announced legislation on prompt payment. Prompt payment legislation will benefit our members by ensuring that not only can smaller contractors pay their own employees in a timely manner, but they will also carry lowered risk by not having outstanding payments for months at a time.

One of the key announcement from the Throne Speech that MERIT thinks could be very helpful for open-shop employers and employees is the government’s intentions to move all procurement through a single service window. Every year the provincial government spends nearly $2 billion in goods and services that has typically been managed by numerous different ministries, agencies and bodies. We think this is costly and inefficient and puts smaller open-shop employers at a disadvantage against larger companies.

While MERIT applauds the government for moving to a single window for all procurement which will help the government reduce duplication and red tape – thus ultimately saving taxpayers money – we of course wait to see the plan in reality. In other provinces changes to procurement has led to the creation of CBA’s (so-called Community Benefit Agreements) that put open-shop and smaller contractors at a disadvantage against larger, closed-shop corporations. In some cases it even freezes open-shop employers and employees out of government projects altogether. We wrote about that here.

Overall, MERIT supports much in this year’s Throne Speech – from single service window for procurement, to ongoing infrastructure investments, promised prompt payment legislation, and the continued focus on keeping spending under control to return to a balanced budget – it is a vision based on prudence and pragmatism, something our members know well in running their own businesses.

We will continue to press the provincial and federal governments on the importance of open-shop employers and employees to the economy.