Prompt payment legislation in the construction industry

Vancouver Sun Letters to the Editor | Dec. 20, 2020 

As British Columbians prepare themselves for a diminished but safer holiday season, B.C.’s construction industry is patiently weathering another kind of challenge. It is a sad fact that too often small contractors are not paid promptly for the work they do. This is an especially difficult situation in the midst of the pandemic when 180,000 tradespeople have stepped up as essential workers to keep the economy going. The majority are employed by small businesses, and many are the only earners in their households because other industries have scaled down drastically.

Several provinces have moved forward with prompt payment legislation, which acts as a deterrent to those outliers who refuse to pay what they owe. But not B.C. — at least, not yet. As Premier John Horgan and his new Cabinet take their seats in the legislature, we look to them to put people first and ensure a strong, sustainable economy by scheduling prompt payment legislation for the coming Spring 2021 legislative session. Without this step, many contractors will lack the confidence to hire, train, and invest. Others will be forced to close their doors because they simply cannot continue to act as de facto banks for big companies and owners who control the purse strings.

B.C.’s construction industry is world-class. It is the number-one employer in B.C.’s goods sector, and it is hard at work. Let’s make sure our contractors and their teams can pay the rent each month.

Chris Atchison, president, B.C. Construction Association; Deborah Cahill, president, Electrical Contractors Association of B.C.; Kim Barbero, CEO, Mechanical Contractors Association of B.C.