VRCA joins call for construction cost relief program

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) is joining the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) in calling on the federal government to establish an emergency COVID-19 Construction Cost Relief Program.

Simultaneously, VRCA is urging its member companies and their employees to support the call by sending a letter to their local member of parliament to demand action in support of the industry and its workers due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Working in lockstep with a strong national association has never been more important than during this pandemic,” said Fiona Famulak, VRCA president. “Our partnership with CCA helps amplify our regional voice to ensure the concerns and challenges of our member companies and their employees are heard by the federal government.”

The federal government has hundreds of critical projects that are already in progress or need to be maintained. Many of these are essential to the well-being of Canadian citizens, including defence, security, infrastructure and the administration of justice and government. The associations are asking the federal government to continue with these projects and to tender and award new projects.

In British Columbia, the construction industry has been identified as a non-health essential services provider, that can not only help to keep workers employed during the pandemic – provided enhanced site safety protocols are in place – but also positions the province and country for economic recovery following the pandemic.

During these unprecedented times, the industry is looking to the federal government to exercise fairness and consideration when addressing schedule and cost impacts experienced by contractors on federally funded contracts. The associations are calling for the federal government to:

  • Provide businesses with fair extensions of time and fair compensation for reasonable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Compensate businesses for reasonable costs incurred and that are supported by sufficient documentation. For example, costs incurred as a result of:
    • Demobilization;
    • Making a site safe;
    • Interruptions of the supply chain;
    • Extended rentals;
    • Additional overheads during delay; and
    • Site security.
  • Continue existing payment terms with prompt and appropriate approvals to ensure timely release of monies.

The associations’ request acknowledges that contractors will need to provide proper notices as required under contracts, keep adequate records of all relevant information, mitigate costs, and be transparent and forthcoming in discussions with the Government of Canada regarding the schedule and cost impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our industry is privileged to be an essential services provider in B.C. and has pivoted quickly to put enhanced safety protocols in place in order to continue to operate,” said Famulak. “Those steps come at significant additional cost to the industry that need to be recognized and addressed.

“The creation of an emergency COVID-19 Construction Cost Relief Program that is separate and distinct from existing contractual documents and obligations is a practical solution to the COVID-19-related cost burden associated with federally funded infrastructure projects and has the potential, over time, to also be implemented by other levels of government.”

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