For some months now, Quebec’s construction-industry regulator, the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (the “RBQ”) has increasingly been seeking penal sanctions against contractors for false statements made to the RBQ when applying for, renewing or modifying their contractor’s licences. Have you reviewed your completed form before sending it to the RBQ?
As you may know, a firm that wishes to bid on, obtain, perform or have performed a construction contract in Quebec must hold a contractor’s licence from the RBQ. In order to obtain, modify or renew the licence, the firm must fill out a form, available on the RBQ website (www.rbq.gouv.qc.ca) and submit it to the RBQ with the required fee.
On the RBQ’s prescribed forms, there are sections that require disclosure of infractions the firm has been found guilty of under certain statutes within the last 12 months. The Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry and the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety are examples of such statutes. Through carelessness or oversight, many firms indicate that they have not been found guilty of such an infraction by checking the “no” box, when in fact they have. Unfortunately, the person signing the form often does not check with the proper individuals within the firm to ascertain whether that answer is correct. The RBQ considers that to be a false statement.
Under section 194 of the Building Act, making a false statement to obtain a licence or in any other prescribed RBQ document constitutes a penal offence subject to a fine of between $2,654 and $13,225 for an individual and $7,934 to $13,225 for a legal person (e.g. a corporation). The amount of the fine doubles for a second offence, and triples for each additional offence!
Moreover, under subsection 70(3) of the Building Act, making a false statement regarding the facts pertaining to an application for a contractor’s licence constitutes grounds for the potential suspension or cancellation of that licence by the RBQ.
So before checking the “no” box, make sure that statement is correct. If a notice of infraction is unfortunately issued by the RBQ, remember that you have 30 days to register a not-guilty plea. You will then have the opportunity to present any valid defence you may have.