Why prompt payment legislation is needed

Jocelyn Dumais’s forming contracting business struggles with non-paying client

By  on February 10, 2014

 2014-02-12 Jocelyn

Explains why prompt payment legislation is needed

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Eastern Ontario forming contractor Jocelyn Dumais says he has learned first-hand why Ontario’s proposed prompt payment legislation is so important.

Dumais, president of Linden Concrete Forming, has made the news in the past, leading the charge against Quebec’s restrictive construction employment and registration rules. While he lives in Quebec, he cannot do business there.

However, while his unionized business (signatory to the Carpenters Union) has successfully competed for work in Ontario, a recent project put real strain on his cash flow.

“All over the world, and common to the construction industry, the developers, they finance themselves from the little guys.”

Linden has regular clients who pay their invoices according to terms, but recently Dumais engaged with a new client and he asked that payments be made “every two weeks” instead of the regularmonthly schedule.

“The first payment came after one month, not two weeks,” Dumais said. This raised a yellow flag, but he decided to go ahead with the work, but keep a close eye on the job.

The contractor claimed, after two weeks on the job, that he was two weeks behind schedule and argued that it would be “breach of contract” if Dumais stopped work, but of course Dumais needed to pay his unionized carpenters their compensation, on schedule.

Finally, Dumais finished the job but refused to do any repair on deficiencies until the contractor paid his bill as per contract. “In October, I sent a letter to the union, saying that I’ve always paid my bills, and I’m waiving my right to lien in your favour because this guy’s not paying.”  The Carpenters Union has been co-operative, though it is still owed some significant payments for benefits.

On a $135,000 job so far, Dumais has received $65,000 from the contractor. “I paid $90,000 in labour and materials, and have another obligations for another $30,000 in union dues and rentals for the floor slab.”

Dumais says the loss in cash, let alone stress and time, could have been avoided with prompt payment legislation.  At the outset, he would have been able to obtain enough financial information to satisfy himself that the contractor could meet the payment obligations, and the statutory requirements for payment would prevent unnecessary delays and compensation claims.

“I have to pay my employees every week, pay workers compensation, I have to pay the deductions to the federal and provincial governments..” he said, and the ability of the client to withhold payment creates incredible business stress.

“As for putting a lien on the job it is always useless for the little guy as the big guy place a bond against the lien and just sit on it until the little guy has no more money to fight for his rights,” Dumais said.

“It’s always the same situation,” he said. “The little guy is paying the tab.  This is why the prompt payment legislation is so necessary.”

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Groups critical of Ontario-Quebec pact

Daily commercial newsdcnprintlogo

June 5, 2006
Groups critical of Ontario-Quebec pact

PETER KENTER correspondent
TORONTO

Stakeholders aren’t thrilled about a labour pact which was to be announced by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest in Ottawa June 3.
It’s difficult for Ontario construction workers to be employed in Quebec because that province’s government has imposed barriers to keep them out.
Ontario workers can meet union membership requirements to work in Quebec, but quotas limit the number of cards available to authorize out-of-province workers to commence work.
It’s estimated that about 6,000 Quebec construction workers are employed in the Ottawa area, with thousands more employed elsewhere in Ontario.
2006-05-19joscelyn-dumais_nJocelyn Dumais, president of the Association for the Right to Work in Ottawa, says he isn’t holding his breath to see improvements for Ontario workers.
“This announcement is not going to solve the issue. Quebec labour laws must be modified first, and unless they announce that, the barriers to Ontario workers will still be up.”
Dumais expects an agreement “slightly better” than one between New Brunswick and Quebec, in which N.B.’s construction workers are shut out of Quebec.
Clive Thurston-OGCAjpg« We would dearly have loved to have been able to comment.”
Clive Thurston – OGCA
“The premiers will both be singing a song and hope that people will pay attention, but they have nothing serious to say,” Dumais told Daily Commercial News last Thursday. “I’m already looking for a violin to accompany their song — and I don’t play well. This issue will only be resolved when Quebec changes its labour laws.”

Organized labour groups are also expected to be disappointed.

“I had an opportunity to view the agreement six months ago and I can say that the overall sentiment of the Ontario Building Trades is that it needs a lot of improvement and there are no real gains in it for us,” says James Barry, financial secretary and business manager with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 586, Ottawa. “I would say this is going to make Quebec extremely happy and ultimately do nothing to help Ontarians.”

Barry says the IBEW gives McGuinty’s government credit for making positive efforts to enforce the Ontario Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act.

“But Quebec workers will be exempt from registration when they work in Ontario, though an Ontario worker will still have to register to work in Quebec,” he says. “We have nothing against Quebec workers coming here, but we don’t support making them exempt from provincial license requirements.

“This is just one of about 45 interprovincial agreements they’ll be announcing and it looks like something they just threw in there without listening to the stakeholders.”
Among the groups not consulted: the Council of Ontario Construction Associations and the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA).
“We would dearly have loved to have been able to comment on this agreement,” says Clive Thurston, president of the OGCA.

“This issue is very, very important to many of our members, particularly in the Ottawa area, but we weren’t consulted.”

Jocelyn Dumais and Quebec’s construction union

Diane Francis Canadian labor market problems

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Canada’s labor WoesDFrancisDiane Francis, Blog

Canadian labor market problems
Diane Francis column Friday Post June 23:Canada’s labor situation worsens because needed reforms elude and politicians don’t get it.For instance, Gatineau contractor Jocelyn Dumais has been fighting Quebec’s closed-shop labor laws for years and he called recently with some upsetting news. The McGuinty government last month backed off a piece of legislation that was designed to force Quebec to level the playing field in the construction industry.

For decades, Quebec has forbidden non-resident Canadians from taking construction jobs while Quebecers have been free to work anywhere else in the country. Notably, they swamped the labor markets along the borders until the Mike Harris government passed Bill 17 which forbid them from working in Ontario until Quebec backed off its restrictions.

« Last month the Ontario government cancelled Bill 17 which forbid Quebec construction workers from getting employment in Ontario unless Quebec changed its unfair labor laws, » he said. « They call it a shared labor mobility agreement, but it’s a fake. »

« The Ontario government tried to get me to support this but it’s not what we’ve been fighting for, » he said. « Here’s what they said they got in exchange: Ontario workers may apply to work there but there were many restrictions. They had to pass an exam, provide certain evidence of experience and had to already be working in Quebec. That’s not labor mobility. »

Ontario added that Quebec agreed to let Ontario residents accept construction jobs involving Hydro Quebec contracts, but only if the salaries were $100,000 or more.

« That was just an exemption for big contracting companies like Ellis Don, » said Mr. Dumais.

14-02-2000jocelynHe’s one of my favorite Canadians and is founder of the Association for the Right to Work (www.adat.ca). Over the years, he has lobbied provinces, staged road blockages and raised hundreds of thousands to mount a Supreme Court of Canada case which, unfortunately, lost. (His charter challenge argued that if workers have the right to associate they also should have the right to not associate. The Court disagreed.)

But he hasn’t given up and hopes to reverse this unfair deal. He also wants to warn Ontario that the McGuinty government is looking at closed-door laws like Quebec’s because of all the illegals and non-union members working in the province.

By the way, Quebec’s unions run the show there and their construction sector is embarrassingly restrictive: Workers must be union members or obtain a special work permit from the province which are about as readily available as Green cards. People are routinely rounded up on sites for the « crime » of working illegally, fined and even jailed.

Another Voice of Reason

Meanwhile, the labor situation worsens nationally as the giant sucking sound from Alberta’s megaprojects continues apace and unions stand in the way of labor mobility through featherbedding and apprenticeship restrictions. What follows is a thoughtful letter from union member John Gilmurray:

« The real problem with labour policy in Canada is the union `local’ system. On a recent visit to England and Ireland I was surprised that there are no locals, just one trade union congress for each country.

Everybody is hired directly by a construction company based on their resume. There are no grandfather clauses, no middle-aged white guys hanging around a union hall dishing out jobs to friends. Supply and demand are the rule. Thousands in Dublin have vacated jobs as teachers and bank clerks to become carpenters and electricians. No wonder they have one of the the best economies in the world. »

« The present shortage of skilled labour in Alberta/Fort McMurray is an almost entirely artificial creation. A small percentage of the millions of skilled labour unemployed all over Europe could be in Alberta within weeks if our bungling federal immigration bureaucracy and archaic union locals would get the hell out of the way and allow our efficient market system to work. »

« There are more people getting hired from carparks and street corners in the U.S. than are now dispatched from union halls. Globalization is creeping in through the back door. In Canada, the young people from Eastern Europe and South America who are turning up on construction sites all over Ontario, Alberta and B.C. may be the trail blazers of our future labour policy. The recent mass hiring of non union workers in Ft. Mcmurray,the construction of new Toyota plants all over the USA and Ontario spells a seismic change is afoot for our unions. Either we change or the new world market will do it for us. »

posted by Diane Francis @ 2:49 PM 3 comments

Labour reforms would fix our worker shortage

Financialpost

Labour reforms would fix our worker shortage

* * * * Diane Francis, Financial Post DFrancis
Published: Friday, June 23, 2006
Canada’s labour situation is worsening because needed reforms elude and the
politicians don’t get it.
For instance, Gatineau, Que., contractor Jocelyn Dumais has been fighting the
province’s closed-shop labour laws for years and he called recently with some
upsetting news.
The McGuinty government in Ontario last month backed off a piece of legislation
that was designed to force Quebec to level the playing field in the construction
industry. For decades, Quebec has forbidden non-resident Canadians from taking
construction jobs while Quebecers have been free to work anywhere in the
country.
Notably, they swamped the labour markets along the borders between the two
provinces until the Mike Harris government passed Bill 17 which forbid them from
working in Ontario until Quebec backed off its restrictions.
"Last month, the Ontario government cancelled Bill 17, which forbid Quebec
construction workers from getting employment in Ontario unless Quebec changed
its unfair labour law, Dumais said.
"They call it a shared labour mobility agreement, but it’s a fake. The Ontario
government tried to get me to support this but it’s not what we’ve been fighting
for.
Here’s what they said they got in exchange: Ontario workers may apply to work
there but there were many restrictions. They had to pass an exam, provide
certain evidence of experience and had to already be working in Quebec. That’s
not labour mobility.
Ontario added that Quebec agreed to let Ontario residents accept construction
jobs involving Hydro Quebec contracts, but only if the salaries were $100,000 or
more. That was just an exemption for big contracting companies like Ellis Don,"
Dumais said.
Dumais is one of my favourite Canadians and is founder of the Association for
the Right to Work (www.adat.ca). For years, he has lobbied provinces, staged
road blockages and raised hundreds of thousands to mount a Supreme Court of
Canada case which, unfortunately, he lost.
(His charter challenge argued that if workers have the right to associate they
also should have the right to not associate. The Court disagreed.)
But he has not given up and hopes to reverse this unfair deal. He also wants to
warn Ontario that the McGuinty government is looking at closed-door laws similar
to Quebec’s because of all the illegals and non-union members working in the
province.
By the way, Quebec’s unions run the show there and their construction sector is
embarrassingly restrictive: Workers must be union members or obtain a special
work permit from the Province which are about as readily available as Green
cards. People are routinely rounded up on sites for the crime of working
illegally, fined and even jailed.
Another voice of reason Meanwhile, the labour situation worsens nationally as
the giant sucking sound from Alberta’s megaprojects continues apace and unions
stand in the way of labour mobility through featherbedding and apprenticeship
restrictions.
What follows is a thoughtful letter from union member John Gilmurray:
The real problem with labour policy in Canada is the union. On a
recent visit to England and Ireland I was surprised that there are no locals,
just one trade union congress for each country.