October 9 2018 blog

The Low-Down on Construction – October 9, 2018

All We Want for Session is FAIRNESS!

Fall in Saskatchewan is always an interesting time of year. The harvest is underway (weather permitting), the Riders keep our heartbeats up, and the provincial Legislature resumes sitting. While MERIT contractors are always hoping for the best of the first two, it is working with our provincial government that occupies much of our time.

Our members are generally happy with the government, but as they say themselves, we can do more. On this point, as we look ahead to the Fall sitting of the Legislature here’s a few items on MERIT’s wish list that we would like to see the government deliver on.

1.Introduction of Prompt Payment Legislation

Getting paid on time is not only fair for workers and employers, but it’s also a question of good business. As we’ve noted before, contractors often carry a great deal of risk while working on projects, and delays in payment not only add to that risk, it can also raise costs. Earlier this year the provincial government made a commitment to introduce prompt payment legislation to address this issue. MERIT was proud to join a working group of Saskatchewan organizations to help encourage the government to take much-needed action on this front, and we are eager to see what the government’s legislation will look like. Construction accounts for about 10% of the province’s GDP so it’s important that the government get this right. 

2. Increased Infrastructure Spending

MERIT was glad to see the agreement reached between the provincial and federal governments for ongoing investments in infrastructure spending. Now we wait to see where the rubber hits the road. In the past we have seen grand announcements by various levels of government fail to materialize or take a long time to get implemented. Saskatchewan has pressing infrastructure needs across the province and MERIT contractors stand ready to help meet the challenges that continued growth has brought. We will continue to work with the province to stand up for MERIT members and to ensure that infrastructure projects are awarded fairly. We raised the concerns coming from other provinces about PLAs (Project Labour Agreements) unfairly favouring bigger contractors and closed-shop workplaces at the expense of both open-shop employers and taxpayers.  With real dollars promised, the time to get building is now.

3. WCB Governance Modernization

MERIT continues to press the provincial government on governance reform at the Workers Compensation Board (WCB). In August of this year, I wrote about the need to update WCB governance and introduce real reforms. These issues remain. They affect employers and workers, and can act as a drag on the health of the economy. We understand the need for a WCB to help protect workers, but it should also help protect contractors and employers. Updated governance and a new culture geared towards customer service will strengthen the WCB at the same time it modernizes it.

The provincial government has overall done a good job for the past decade in promoting a vision for growth in Saskatchewan. Last year, with the selection of new leaders for both the governing party and the opposition we look forward to renewed visions being presented that will continue to set the table for growth, but that will also help transform our province to make it fairer for both workers and employers.