COCA Newsletter – June 2019
Welcome to COCA’s monthly Newsletter. Unless noted otherwise, all articles written by COCA President, Ian Cunningham.
More on the Publication of Substantial Performance
Regular readers of this COCA monthly newsletter may recall that in our last edition we wrote about the theoretical possibility of the marketplace of publications publishing certificates of substantial performance becoming overcrowded, with many new entrants and even some fringe players.
In order to be properly informed of the substantial performance of a project, contractors will have to check ALL publications that print these notifications. A marketplace with more than a handful of such publications would not serve the intended purpose of publishing such notices, to notify contractors to a project of the substantial performance of that project. To require contractors to check every publication that publishes certificates of substantial performance, including new entrants to this marketplace that are unknown to contractors, is unreasonable in a marketplace with more than 5 or 6 publications.
However, an overcrowded marketplace will only become a reality IF the cost of entry is relatively low. Some believe that the cost of assembling the capital, developing a business plan, a budget, the digital capabilities and hiring staff in order to publish in a way that meets the criteria established in the General Regulation of the Act are exceedingly high relative to the potential revenues.
To refresh our memories, the General Regulation under the Construction Act states the following with respect to the publication of certificates of substantial performance:
“Certificate, declaration of substantial performance
9. A certificate of substantial performance (Form 9) or declaration of substantial performance under section 32 of the Act shall be published in a construction trade newspaper.”
1. In this Regulation,
“construction trade newspaper” means a newspaper,
(a) that is published either in paper format with circulation generally throughout Ontario or in electronic format in Ontario,
(b) that is published at least daily on all days other than Saturdays and holidays,
(c) in which calls for tender on construction contracts are customarily published, and
(d) that is primarily devoted to the publication of matters of concern to the construction industry.”
This definition, which took effect on July 1, 2018, is little changed from that in the former Construction Lien Act save for the ability to publish in electronic format in Ontario. Since that time there has been only one new entrant, Ontario Construction News/Ontario Construction Report which increased its publication frequency and content to meet the criteria presumably to capture a share of the market previously earned by a single published, The Daily Commercial News.
So is the cost of entry low relative to the potential revenues? We’ll let you be the judge. Only time will tell.
Rumours of Cabinet Shuffle Widely Reported
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and rumours abound about a shuffle of the deck chairs around Premier Ford’s Cabinet table. These rumours have been widely reported in our mainstream media. So, around water coolers across the province, Queen’s Park watchers are speculating about which current ministers will be promoted, demoted and even shown the door and about which back benchers have performed well enough to earn promotions into the senior executive ranks of the government.
Which current cabinet ministers might receive portfolio upgrades? Here’s are our best guesses:
Rod Phillips – Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks
Laurie Scott- Minister of Labour (let the revolving door in the Office of the Minister begin to spin once again)
Michael Tibolo – Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
Merrilee Fullerton – Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
Ministers with challenging portfolios that have suffered through rough waters and who could get downgrades?
- Lisa McLeod – Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. The handling of the autism file has not covered the Ford government in glory but would Ford demote a staunch and passionate loyalist?
- Lisa Thompson – Minister of Education. The education portfolio may not be best suited to Thompson’s experience and interests and with a labour disruption a strong possibility this fall, EDU will need a steady hand and a skilled communicator.
- Christine Elliott – Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Perhaps expectations for the former patient advocate were set too high and rejigging the province’s health care system would be an enormous challenge for even the very best. The Premier could find himself conflicted in making a decision to demote Elliott. She was his principal opponent in the race for the PC Party leadership and continues to enjoy strong support from the progressive wing of the party. And she and her late husband, Jim Flaherty, were long-time friends of the Ford family.
High-performing and capable backbenchers include Michael Parsa, Ross Romano, Norm Miller and David Piccini.
One factor that could postpone the cabinet changes is the need find a successor to Sophie Dennis who recently retired as Deputy Minister of Labour. If there is a major shuffle in the DM ranks, then a cabinet shuffle at the same time would be highly unlikely.
Ontario Legislature’s Summer Break Extended Until After Federal Election
On Thursday, October 6th, the day on which the Ontario legislature was scheduled to adjourn for its summer break until September 9th, a government motion was passed to extend the summer break until October 28th which is after the federal election. The extension period consists of five sitting weeks and one constituency week.
Critics have questioned the need for the extended break charging that it will simply allow Tory MPPs and their operatives to campaign actively for their federal cousins in the fall federal election campaign. The Premier has responded that his government has been one of the most productive ever, going to work almost immediately after it was elected and passing more Bills than almost any other in Ontario history.
Others reports say that many Ontario federal Tory candidates are meeting with opposition at the door that’s based on the Ford government’s cuts. They would prefer to have Ford out of the conversation and out of the way. Some have speculated that Doug Ford is a drag on federal Tory prospects in Ontario and that the federal Tories want to keep him quiet during the federal election campaign.
Some speculate further that the decision to extend the Ontario legislature’s summer break was made at the request of the federal Tories and was coordinated between the two levels of the party. By not sitting, Ford and his government will not be as widely visible and therefore the drag on the federal Tory prospects will be limited.
Modernizing Alcohol and Opening Ontario for Business
The Ford government has committed to have two top priorities:
- making Ontario open for business by cutting red tape and making the province’s legislative and regulatory environment supportive of business success.
- making beer, wine and alcohol more widely available and cheaper. (Is this the modern equivalent of “Let them eat cake”?)
It’s the mixing of these two objectives that has caused some difficulties for the current administration at Queen’s Park.
On Thursday, June 6th Bill 115 passed third reading in the Ontario legislature and received Royal Assent. The Bill essentially terminates a ten year contract executed between the Government of Ontario and The Beer Store almost four years. The agreement gives The Beer Store, which is owned by three foreign-based multi nationals, near monopoly rights for the sale of beer all across the province. The Bill however does provide for the sale of beer in small formats in LCBO stores and in a specified number of grocery stores. As already stated, the Bill passed third reading and received Royal Assent BUT it will not become law until it is proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
While the government says that Bill 115 is supported by local chambers of commerce and their small variety store members, it has drawn the ire of one of the government’s strongest allies, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, as well as the United States Chamber of Commerce. Both argue that the termination of a legally executed contract without compensation, no matter how outrageous the terms of that contract might be, does little to attract investment and create an environment that is for business. They say it does exactly the opposite and urge the province to abide by the contract and modernize beer distribution once the contract has expired.
Meanwhile The Beer Store has said it will use every means available to oppose the termination of the contract and that will likely cost the government of Ontario $100M, possibly more.
Many observers believe our government has no intention of having Bill 115 proclaimed into law and that it is simply using it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with The Beer Store. Only time will tell.
Almost concurrent with the passing of Bill 115, and as allowed in the agreement between the government and The Beer Store, the government announced the opening of 200 new LCBO convenience outlets/agency stores and the approval of 87 additional grocery stores in which beer and wine will be available.
Ford Popularity Sagging at One Year Mark
One year after he was elected to form the government at Queen’s Park and lead the Ontario out of the mess left behind by the former Liberal government, Premier Doug Ford finds his popularity in steady decline. Ford won the Ontario general election with 40.5% of the popular vote. Successive polls conducted by Angus Reid show that 42% Ontarians approved of Doug Ford in December, 2018, 38% in March, 2019, and 36% in June 2019.
The poll also reflects that Ford’s in Ontario when compared to the popularity of all the other Canadian provincial first ministers in their provinces is second lowest, only besting Stephen McNeill of Nova Scotia.
Liberals Choose Delegated Convention for Election of Next Leader
The Ontario Liberal Party met on the weekend on June 7/8/9 to determine, among other matters, the method to select their next leader. It had been proposed that the party change from the traditional delegated convention process to a one member, one vote type of selection that many other political parties have already moved to.
The one member, one vote process is seen to be more democratic because it gives power to the rank and file members to elect their standard bearer and limits the power of party insiders, consultants, back roomers and big supporters. According to the party’s rules, to be successful, the motion to change to the one member, one vote system required a 66% majority vote from the approximately 1,000 delegates in attendance at the weekend convention.
It fell short, achieving a majority of only 57%. So, the Liberal Party of Ontario will continue with its traditional method and choose its next leader through a delegated convention. This process can create more drama, excitement and entertainment and elevate the profiles of the Party and its leadership candidates.
Here’s how the race is currently shaping up:
- Steven Del Duca, former MPP Vaughan
- Michael Coteau, MPP Don Valley East
- Alvin Tedjo, 2018 Liberal candidate in Burlington-North Oakville
Others rumoured to be considering entering the race:
- Dwight Duncan, former Minister of Finance in the government of Dalton McGuinty
- Chris Hadfield, astronaut
- Eric Hokins, former Minister of Health in the government of Kathleen Wynne
- Mitzie Hunter, MPP and former Minister of Education in the Wynne government
- John Milloy, former minister in the governments of Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty
- Tim Murphy, lawyer, former MPP and former chief of staff to Prime Minister Paul Martin
- Sandra Pupatello, former Minister of Economic Development in the government of Dalton McGuinty
- John Tory, Mayor of Toronto and former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
- Charles Sousa, former Minister of Finance in the government of Kathleen Wynne
- John Wilkinson, former Minister of Revenue in the government of Dalton McGuinty
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Council of Ontario Construction Associations
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