About the Certificate of Substantial Performance (CSP) form

The Certificate of Substantial Performance (CSP) form is an essential document that you must publish at the final stages of completing a project, because it is a key “starting point” for clearing holdbacks and fulfilling your responsibilities under the Ontario Construction Act.

The official form (Form 9) is the same document known as Form 6 under the former Construction Lien Act.

If you are not familiar with the form and the specific requirements to complete it, you may benefit by having a brief consultation with a qualified construction lawyer or someone with experience in completing this documentation. But the content and fields in the form are quite self-explanatory, so you should not have difficulty in completing the process yourself, once you understand the process.

Once you complete the form, you need to publish it in a “Construction Trade Newspaper”.

The Ontario Construction Act describes a qualifying Construction Trade Newspaper as a newspaper:

(a) that is published either in paper format with circulation generally throughout Ontario or in electronic format in Ontario,

(b) that is published at least daily on all days other than Saturdays and holidays,

(c) in which calls for tender on construction contracts are customarily published, and

(d) that is primarily devoted to the publication of matters of concern to the construction industry.

As you can see the requirements here are quite specific. You cannot post this notice in a general daily or community (non-construction) newspaper, but the new Act allows the “newspaper” to be a digital as well as printed publication.

Where can you publish/post these notices?

At present, only two publications qualify as Construction Trade Newspapers.

The first, The Daily Commercial News (DCN), is a well established publication which, until recently enjoyed a monopoly for publishing CSP and other relevant notices. Not surprisingly, because the notices are mandatory and there was only one place to publish them, this newspaper could set its advertising rates as it wished. It is a reputable publication that has been in business since 1927.

The second, Ontario Construction News (OCN-Daily), is something of an upstart, though the publishing organization behind the new daily has been publishing construction news in the province for more than 30 years. The digital publication, available without a requirement for a paid subscription, contains extensive news coverage, bidding and tender information, and has priced its CSP Notices as low as 50 per cent compared to the other publication. (The Ontario Construction News publishers have published this website as a service to the industry.)

Checking on published CSP Notices

Both DCN and OCN-Daily provide searchable databases for certificate postings, which are freely available from the organization’s respective websites.

Are there other forms and notices?

Yes, there are several, though at present most contractors will focus on the CSP. There is a special form when condominiums are registered (Form 11), and other forms for Notice of Non Payment of Holdback (Form 6), Notice of Termination (Form 8) and Certification of Completion of Subcontract (Form 10).

Note that the new Form 6 is not the same as the previous CSP Form 6 – However, if you have the old version of the CSP form, it still will work, because it is exactly the same, just with a revised form number.

The step-by-step process

Both publications provide basic guidelines and resources to help you complete the forms and submit them, but neither represents itself as qualified to offer legal advice. See for example, Ontario Construction News’ information page for certificate advertisements includes a guide through the process.

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