Collaborative project delivery models, legislative reforms, among trends in Quebec construction

In the province, prompt payment legislation and various labour reforms are on the horizon

Collaborative project delivery models, legislative reforms, among trends in Quebec construction
Nicolas Gagnon and David Tournier

The adoption of collaborative project delivery models, labour reform, and imminent prompt payment legislation are three of the significant trends in the Quebec construction space, according to Nicolas Gagnon and David Tournier, partners at Lavery in Montreal.

Prompt payment laws have been enacted across the country in recent years. The laws require timely payment of contractors in construction projects and set up adjudication systems to efficiently resolve disputes. In December, the Federal Prompt Payment for Construction Work Act and its regulations came into force. Prompt payment laws are in force in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta and are forthcoming in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Quebec.

Following a provincial pilot project, where prescribed payment timelines and adjudicated dispute settlement were tested on public infrastructure projects, Quebec passed An Act mainly to promote Québec-sourced and responsible procurement by public bodies, which was assented to in June 2022. The law is not yet in force.

The legislation aims to improve the payment process, but it will remain challenging to ensure fair and equitable payment of what is considered “extra work,” which is outside the scope of work, says Gagnon.

In Quebec, there is also legislative reform on the horizon that will loosen worker mobility rules. The province is divided into construction regions, and when an employer from one region has a project in another, they must hire a certain number of locals for the job. Proponents say the proposed reforms in Bill R-20 will aid productivity during a labour shortage. Some union representatives are concerned the move could undermine worker safety and the quality of training.

Due to the labour shortage, Gagnon says greater worker mobility is necessary.

Bill R-20 will also expand the range of work assigned to various trades. Critics say this move could compromise worker safety. Gagnon says the construction space needs “versatility of trades.”

“There are over 20 specific trades. If you don't have the certification to perform work under a trade, you cannot perform that work,” he says. “But a lot of these trades have a lot of similarities, and a labourer with one specific trade could easily perform another one.”

“That legislation aims to allow these trades to perform work outside their specific range. It's a bit technical, but it's really important for the workforce.”

The traditional project delivery model involves an owner tasking professional consultants to prepare project plans, after which contractors are invited to bid. Like other provinces, Quebec is seeing a rise in more collaborative delivery models, such as integrated project delivery (IPD), progressive design builds, and alliance contracting.

Gagnon says the IPD model “promotes collaboration and communication with multidisciplinary teams with the goal of optimizing the outcome through multi-phase, multi-party agreements, and a risk-reward mechanism.”

An alliance contract is a collaborative approach characterized by a partnership between the public authority and the private sector. He says they work together in good faith, sharing risks and rewards. The progressive design-build involves early contractor engagement. The design is divided into phases and there is an option for the public authority to exit the agreement if terms cannot be agreed upon.

“The hope is that it's going to lead to cost saving and innovation,” says Gagnon, adding that there have not yet been too many contracts awarded under the progressive design-build model in the province.

Tournier says the current need for large infrastructure projects drains the resources on the market. Companies can only do so many big projects, which puts leverage in the hands of the developers. For public projects, the public authority tries to attract as many bidders as possible while remaining within budget. Collaborative models bridge the disconnect between the authority and the professionals who deal with suppliers, materials, and the difficulties that arise throughout the project. More integrated project development and finding incentives for everyone to pull in the same direction, where every player’s profit margin is at risk if any issues arise, prevents fights over who is at fault for cost overruns or delays, he says.

“Not every collaborative approach is like that. But the more integrated you go, the more you go towards that approach,” says Tournier.

There have not been too many projects employing the collaborative approach yet, he says, so it remains to be seen whether it leads to cost savings generally.

Recent articles & video

Survey report highlights challenges and solutions for family violence cases in Nova Scotia courts

Suncor's David Kramer speaks about big deals, the energy transition and career advice

Lawyers must be increasingly aware of technological, geopolitical trends: software founder Sean West

Who made it to the 2024 list of top pro bono law firms?

Tracy Davis appointed as Assistant Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Justice

Charles Randall Smith re-appointed as chairperson of RCMP External Review Committee

Most Read Articles

BC Supreme Court rejects husband’s claim against wife’s counsel over family home sale proceeds

Crown attorneys share responsibility for Canada’s dysfunctional justice system

Lawyer salaries may vary more in wake of competition law changes: recruiter report

'We need to have the competence to question:' LegalTech panel on genAI fakes in the legal system