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This Week in Construction Law: April 25 – 29, 2022

In federal news, the Canadian Infrastructure Bank appears poised to fund $20 billion in new projects every year. The CIB’s investments are spread between five sectors mandated by the federal government: transit, clean power, green infrastructure, broadband, and trade/transportation.

In Ontario, multiple work stoppages are expected today in the residential construction sector as the deadline for new union contracts expires with some trades yet to strike new deals. A major issue in those negotiations that have yet to close is wages, exacerbated by recent inflation-spurred cost-of-living increases. The Daily Commercial News is tracking the state of individual union negotiations here.

In Ontario, the provincial government has tabled its budget ahead of an imminent election campaign. The provincial government is promising a substantial new capital spending plan, including major transit and highway construction, as well as increased support for the recruitment and training of skilled trades. In commentary, the Ontario Construction Secretariat has released its own review of the new provincial budget.

In B.C., the provincial Environmental Assessment Office has issued an order stating that B.C. Hydro, currently constructing the Site C hydroelectric dam, is in non-compliance with its environmental certificate. Of particular concern, rock containing naturally-occurring sulphur is being exposed during construction but not encapsulated, causing a risk of acids and heavy metals leaching from the rocks into the surrounding environment. According to Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre, acid rock drainage was responsible for destroying the salmon runs on Tsolum and Jordan River on Vancouver Island.

In Saskatchewan, building construction costs are estimated to have risen by 22% in the last quarter of 2021, with inflation and high gas prices likely to have caused further impact to construction costs in the interim. With summer construction season about to commence, industry leaders are petitioning the provincial government for a pause to the provincial gas tax.

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