Toronto “supplier code of conduct” proposal could close bids to litigants

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The City of Toronto is considering implementing a “Supplier code of contract” that could result in contractors engaged in litigation with the city to be denied the opportunity to bid on further jobs.

This provision has raised concerns with some industry associations, who are concerned that, if implemented, it would put a chill on contractors making legitimate claims through the courts.

The proposed changes to the city’s purchasing by law says: “The Treasurer, in consultation with the City Solicitor, may disqualify a supplier who are in ongoing litigation with the city related to a contract awarded by the city.”

City staff say the provision’s focus relates to suppliers with a history of “bringing vexatious or frivolous litigation against the city” and not to stop suppliers who have legitimate issues from addressing them through the courts.

A published report says the recommendation was brought to the Broader Construction Association Consultation Group (BCACG), a city advisory group comprised of various industry representatives, at the end of May. Geoff Wilson, executive director of the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA), was quoted as saying the provision “came up as a big surprise to all of the industry associations that are supposed to be consulted.”

Wilkinson, along with Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) president Clive Thurston and Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association executive director Giovanni Cautillo, told the Daily Commercial News during the Canadian Construction Association spring board meeting in Halifax, N.S. that they felt they were not properly consulted on this issue.

 

“Rather than become more efficient, they, like some other owners, believe that it’s better to become more punitive. Let’s penalize the people who work for us,” Thurston was quoted as saying. “These clauses are intended to intimidate contractors from accessing their due process, their rights under the law. They have no other purpose.”

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