C O N S T R U C T I O N L AW
Protecting your interests on
By Jennifer Davis, McLennan Ross LLP
The Alberta Public Works Act, RSA 2000, c P-46
(the PWA) is an underutilized mechanism by which
creditors can obtain some security for works performed
on Crown land. While builders’ liens are more commonly
known tools for securing payment, claims under the PWA
can provide some security and the ability to claim from the
According to section 1(c) of the PWA, a public work is
considered an “undertaking and all the works and property
that may be acquired, made, built, constructed, erected,
extended, enlarged, repaired, maintained, improved, formed,
excavated, operated, reconstructed, replaced or removed
pursuant to a contract entered into by the Minister on behalf
of the Crown or by an agent of the Crown.”
Public works can include not only projects situated on
Crown land, but also projects situated on private land (for
example, where the Crown is a tenant). For projects situated
on private land, both the PWA and the Builders’ Lien Act
may apply, giving creditors additional security for payment.
However, because the PWA is a provincial statute, claims
under the PWA do not extend to federal public works.
Entitlement to claim
Claims under the PWA, under section 14, arise when “a
person provides labour, equipment, material or services used
or reasonably required for use in the performance of a contract
with the Crown for the construction, alteration, demolition,
repair or maintenance of a public work.” Not all work on
Crown land will qualify, but this definition is sufficiently
broad to capture most construction-related activity.
Advancing a claim
If a firm determines they are eligible to make a claim under
the PWA, or they believe they may be entitled to make a
claim, the procedure is relatively straightforward.
The claimant is required to send notice to the Minister,
board, or agent of the Crown responsible for the public work.
That notice can be as simple as sending a letter, although
some ministries prescribe specific forms, such as Alberta
Infrastructure’s Statement of Public Works Act Claim form.
Before sending notice to the appropriate ministry or agent of
the Crown, claimants should determine whether that body
has a particular form they require. In any event, notice must
set out the nature and amount of the claim. As a guiding
principle, the information that would normally be included
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