A dispute at the Hamilton Pan Am soccer stadium with subcontractors saying they are not getting paid highlights the potential need for prompt payment legislation, Ontario’s Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid says.
Four subcontractors have filed property liens against the $145-million stadium claiming general contracting consortium Ontario Sports Solutions owes them more than $2 million in unpaid overtime and services rendered.
Duguid said the construction industry is plagued by liens, usually resulting from similar circumstances where the subcontractors make a claim against a property for outstanding payments.
“We are looking at prompt payment as a potential policy. In fact, we’ve got a study going on now through the Attorney General office into prompt payment and the Construction Liens Act. That began about a month ago,” Duguid told reporters at Queen’s Park on Monday.
“We do have challenges and we have for generations now in the construction sector where a general contractor may slow in paying their subcontractors. It is an issue of fairness. It is an issue between the subcontractor and the general contractor . . . however we are looking at the issue,” he said.
Liberal MPP Steve Del Duca, now transportation minister, had a private member’s bill dealing with prompt payment that was winding its way through the legislature, but it died when the June 12 provincial election was called last May.
“If passed, the Prompt Payment Act will ensure that those who complete their work get paid on time and this will lead to greater job creation and increased apprenticeships,” he said when the proposed legislation was put forward almost two years ago.
Last month the Attorney General’s ministry launched an expert review of the Construction Lien Act that includes the examination of payment issues within the construction sector.
Duguid said the important thing in the dispute over the Hamilton stadium is that the taxpayers cannot be on the hook because a lien bond was taken out by the general contractor, Ontario Sports Solutions. But that bond does not guarantee money to the sub trades, which face going to court to make their cases.
Under what is known as alternative financing procurement, Ontario Sports Solutions was required to design, finance and build three projects, including the Hamilton stadium. And only when completed is the consortium paid in full.
The stadium was to be completed by last summer. Even so, it is reported to be about 99 per cent done.
Members of the consortium have directed all questions about the payment dispute to Infrastructure Ontario, which has stressed that taxpayers are protected in the deal.
“This project has had some delays. It’s almost done. It won’t be a problem, I don’t expect, for the Pan Am Parapan Am Games, but obviously we watch the contract very closely for a number of reasons . . . we want to make sure we have a good record with whatever contractors we hire,” Duguid said.
The Pan Am Games are being held July 10-26 and the Parapan Am Games, Aug., 7-15.
- With files from Rob Ferguson