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This Week in Construction Law: May 9 – 13, 2022

In national news, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobby group, is demanding that provincial workers’ compensation boards across the country rebate billions of dollars of surplus funds to the businesses who originally paid them. According to CFIB, seven provincial boards are currently over-funded, with B.C.’s board in particular currently holding assets 153% higher than its liabilities (against a target ratio of 130%).

In Ontario, the construction strike appears likely to enter its second week as carpenters, among other trades, have not expressed interest in a quick return to the bargaining table. Although precast workers recently ratified a new three-year contract in an eleventh-hour deal, construction has nonetheless ground to a halt at multiple job sites because striking crane operators are required to install the precast forms. Approximately 80 construction sites in Windsor alone are affected.

In B.C., the United Nations has issued a third rebuke to the provincial and federal governments over state and industry use of “force, surveillance, and criminalization of land defenders to intimidate, remove and forcibly evict Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en Nations from their traditional lands”, specifically naming the RCMP and private security forces as the culprits. Approximately 5,000 construction workers are currently building a Coastal GasLink pipeline across northern B.C., causing considerable acrimony and at least one instance of serious vandalism of expensive construction equipment. The $6 billion pipeline, designed to carry liquified natural gas from the interior to the coast for shipment to international markets, has taken on special significance in the months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Natural gas futures have more than doubled in price, from a low of $3.64 per MMBtu in January to $8.78 on May 5.

In commentary, David Bowcott discusses managing defect risk in the construction process.