Studying from the Building Act: Key takeaways for Alberta’s development business

Maintain again on development supplies is without doubt one of the variations between the OCA and Alberta’s Invoice 37. PHOTO: Adobe Inventory/Arie

It has been 4 years since Ontario launched laws to modernize the Building Lien Act, ushering in immediate cost and expedited dispute decision frameworks, amongst different adjustments. As Alberta strikes towards modernizing its current development lien laws, business gamers ought to apprise themselves of the variations between Invoice 37: Builders’ Lien (Immediate Cost) Modification Act, 2020 (Invoice 37), the proposed laws that may amend the Alberta’s Builders’ Lien Act (BLA)1 and Ontario’s Building Act (OCA). Understanding the variations between these two items of laws could present useful steering to development business gamers on the lookout for a solution to put together for the upcoming legislative adjustments in Alberta. Furthermore, if the Authorities of Alberta expects to deliver Invoice 37 into power in July 2021, it ought to benefit from Ontario’s strategy in implementing the OCA to streamline Alberta’s modernization of the BLA whereas minimizing its disruptive affect on Alberta’s development business.

Although there are various similarities between the Alberta and Ontario laws, there are a number of key variations, a few of that are outlined under:

Holdback for ending work/Minor lien fund:

When a certificates of considerable efficiency is issued, Invoice 37 requires an proprietor maintain again 10 per cent of the worth of labor and supplies for 60 days from the date of completion of both the contract or the subcontract. This era is prolonged to 90 days the place enhancements relate primarily to concrete or work achieved in respect to enhancements to an oil or gasoline nicely or website. Nonetheless, Ontario’s OCA extends the holdback interval for ending work till all liens which may be claimed towards holdback have expired, been happy, discharged, or as in any other case offered within the OCA. There isn’t any particular point out of enhancements associated to the furnishing of concrete within the OCA.

Immediate Cost:

Many of the immediate cost provisions are comparable between the 2 items of laws. One exception is that the OCA offers that causes for non-payment could embrace retention of quantities by set-off by a trustee or by lien set-off. No comparable provision exists in Invoice 37.


The dispute decision provisions of the Ontario and Alberta laws are comparable. Nonetheless, Invoice 37 states the nominating authority should organize listening to by adjudicators, whereas the OCA accommodates no such requirement. Additional, the OCA permits the adjudication authority to set and retain charges, prices and different fees for the administration of adjudication. The OCA accommodates the provisions that element referrals of a dispute to adjudication in a dispute, which don’t seem in Invoice 37. For instance, Below the OCA:

  • A celebration to a contract could refer a dispute to adjudication for issues comparable to: valuations of companies/supplies; cost underneath the contract together with change order; disputes topic to note of non-payment; quantity retained as set-off by trustee or lien set-off; cost of holdback; non-payment of holdback; and another issues.
  • An adjudication could solely handle a single matter, except agreed in any other case.
  • A celebration could refer a dispute to adjudication even when the matter is topic to court docket motion or arbitration underneath the Arbitration Act, except the motion or arbitration has been lastly decided.
  • An adjudication could solely be performed by an adjudicator listed within the registry. Events could conform to a particular adjudicator — who could reject to this request — or request an appointment from the nominating authority. The place a provision in a contract/subcontract designates an adjudicator, they’re of are of no power or impact.
  • Events could terminate the adjudication earlier than the adjudicator’s dedication is made.
  • Usually, underneath the OCA, an adjudicator is to make dedication no later than 30 days after receiving paperwork, however this era could also be prolonged upon request by adjudicator or settlement between the events.

The distinctions between the 2 items of laws are important. Significantly when, pursuant to the phrases of Invoice 37, even when a court docket motion is commenced on the identical day as an adjudication, the adjudication should be discontinued. In creating related rules with Invoice 37, Alberta ought to look to those distinctions for provisions that additional its objective of modernizing development laws whereas streamlining the adjudication course of.

Minimal quantity to register lien:

Invoice 37 states no lien shall be registered except the claims or joined claims quantity to or combination $700. There isn’t any comparable provision within the OCA.
Time for registration of liens:

Invoice 37 and OCA comprise comparable provisions relating to deadlines to file liens. Nonetheless, Invoice 37 accommodates an prolonged lien interval for the availability of concrete or work regarding concrete. The OCA doesn’t comprise any particular prolonged lien intervals for concrete.

Phased Coming Into Power Provisions:

Probably the most basic distinction between the 2 items of laws is that the OCA contained provisions that phased its adjustments, together with the adjudication and immediate cost provisions into power over time. Whereas the OCA turned regulation in December 2017, the transformative adjustments it delivered to the development business in Ontario didn’t take impact till October 2019. This phased strategy allowed the development business in Ontario to correctly put together, acclimatize, and perceive the OCA. Extra importantly, the OCA’s phased strategy diminished uncertainty and allowed the development business to adequately pivot to attenuate the disruptive affect of the OCA’s adjustments.

At the moment, there are not any equal phase-in provisions in Invoice 37. The transitional provisions in Invoice 37 state that any contract or subcontract enter into after Invoice 37 comes into power is ruled by Invoice 37.

Because of this, when Invoice 37 is proclaimed to return into power and the BLA turns into the Immediate Cost and Building Lien Act, its adjudication and immediate cost provisions, together with the brand new deadlines for liens turn into regulation instantly. This might have severe penalties for the development business and should result in important uncertainty and confusion as business gamers scramble to get onside of the brand new deadlines and the unclear immediate cost and adjudication regimes imposed by Invoice 37.

Alberta ought to think about phasing Invoice 37’s adjustments in over time. Along with offering a higher diploma of certainty, Alberta can benefit from the physique of case regulation being developed by Ontario courts as they assess and adjudicate disputes underneath the brand new OCA, and its transitionary provisions particularly. Extra importantly, phasing in Invoice 37’s adjustments over time would offer Alberta’s development business some a lot wanted respiration room in making ready for the numerous disruption that the adjudication and immediate cost provisions will deliver.


Marin Leci is a senior affiliate and Arba Radaj is a summer season regulation scholar at Borden Ladner Gervais.

Though care has been taken to make sure accuracy, this text shouldn’t be relied upon as authorized recommendation.

This text first appeared within the August 2021 version of On-Website. Click on right here to learn by means of the total problem.


1 Invoice 37 will comprise new guidelines and adjudication procedures that may have a transformative affect on the development business in Alberta. Additionally, Invoice 62, the Purple Tape Discount Implementation Act, accommodates necessary data and steering on the adjudication provisions of Invoice 37. For extra data please see: Borden Ladner Gervais, Alberta’s Builders’ Lien Act — one step nearer to immediate cost and adjudication, here