Minutes of the 95th annual business meeting

SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 2017
President and Chair: George Comrie, P.Eng., CMC

The 95th Annual General Meeting of Professional Engineers Ontario was held at the Valhalla Inn, Thunder Bay, Ontario on Saturday, April 22, 2017.

President George Comrie advised that PEO was webcasting the business meeting to increase the accessibility of PEO information to more members, no matter where they are located. 

The president thanked the participants and attendees of Friday’s Volunteer Leadership Conference. He then acknowledged the seven inductees into PEO’s Order of Honour, as well as recipients of the President’s Award and G. Gordon M. Sterling Engineering Intern Award, all of whom were honoured during a gala ceremony the prior evening.

President Comrie announced that a delegation of the local Lakehead Chapter would provide a presentation on the history of Thunder Bay and local engineering during the keynote luncheon, and that the 512th meeting of PEO Council would be held following the luncheon. The president invited delegates of the AGM to participate in social media conversations using #PEOAGM.

CALL TO ORDER

The president advised that since proper notice for the meeting had been published in Engineering Dimensions, as provided for under section 20(i) of By-Law No. 1, and a quorum was present, the meeting was officially called to order.

INTRODUCTION OF COUNCIL     

The president introduced the members of the 2016-2017 PEO Council.

The Executive Committee members: Bob Dony, PhD, P.Eng., C.Eng., FIEE, FEC, president-elect; Thomas Chong, MSc, P.Eng., FEC, PMP, past president; Pat Quinn, PhD (HC), P.Eng., C.Eng., FCAE, FEC, FIEI, vice president (elected), who was unable to attend; David Brown, P.Eng., BDS, C.E.T., vice president (appointed); and Councillors Marilyn Spink, P.Eng., Changiz Sadr, P.Eng., FEC, and himself as chair.

The remaining members of Council: Councillors-at-Large Roydon Fraser, PhD, P.Eng., Christian Bellini, P.Eng., FEC, and Roger Jones, BSc, P.Eng., who was unable to attend; Regional Councillors Guy Boone, P.Eng. (Eastern Region), Noubar Takessian, P.Eng., FEC, BScME, GSC (East Central Region), Dan Preley, P.Eng., and Michael Wesa, P.Eng. (Northern Region), Gary Houghton, BESc, P.Eng., FEC, and Ewald Kuczera, MSc, P.Eng. (Western Region), both of whom were unable to attend, Danny Chui, P.Eng., FEC, and Warren Turnbull, P.Eng. (West Central Region); Lieutenant Governor-in-Council Appointees Michael Chan, P.Eng., Richard Hilton, P.Eng., who was unable to attend, Tim Kirkby, BEng, P.Eng., FEC, Qadira Jackson Kouakou, barrister and solicitor, Lew Lederman, QC, Mary Long-Irwin, Tomiwa Olukiyesi, P.Eng., and Nadine Rush, C.E.T, who was unable to attend.

PEO’s Directors to Engineers Canada for 2016-2017: Annette Bergeron, P.Eng., FEC, Rakesh Shreewastav, P.Eng., AVS, FEC, Chris Roney, P.Eng., BDS, FEC, David Brown and George Comrie. President Comrie also acknowledged Registrar Gerard McDonald, P.Eng.

ORDER OF BUSINESS

President Comrie welcomed the special guests attending the meeting and introduced representatives from provincial and national engineering associations from across the country:

  • Chris Roney, P.Eng., BDS, FEC, president, Engineers Canada;
  • Jay Nagendran, registrar and CEO, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta;
  • Tara Zrymiak, president, and Bob McDonald, executive director and registrar, Association of Professional Engineers and Geo-scientists of Saskatchewan;
  • Lindsay Melvin, president, Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba; and
  • Chris Zinck, president, and Len White, CEO and registrar, 
    Engineers Nova Scotia.

He also welcomed representatives of PEO’s partners in the Ontario engineering community and allied professions:

  • Michael Monette, president and chair, and Sandro Perruzza, CEO, Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE);
  • Stephen Morley, past president, Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT);  
  • Tony Lotimer, president, Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario;
  • Doris Chee, president, Ontario Association of Landscape Architects;
  • John Stephenson, president, Ontario Association of Architects;
  • Matt Farrell, vice president, Ontario Building Officials Association;
  • Marisa Sterling, president and chair, Ontario Professional Engineers Foundation for Education; and
  • Michael Lavdas, president, Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario. 

IN MEMORIAM

The president asked all present to stand for a moment of silence in remembrance of those PEO members who had passed away in 2016.

ADOPTION OF MINUTES

President Comrie referred members to the minutes of the 2016 AGM.

It was moved by Noubar Takessian, P.Eng., seconded by Richard Chumra, P.Eng., that the minutes of the 2016 AGM, as published in the November/December 2016 issue of Engineering Dimensions and as distributed at the meeting, be adopted.

Motion carried

BUSINESS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES

The president reviewed the actions taken by Council on submissions discussed at the 2016 AGM. Members made four submissions to the meeting, one of which was passed. This submission dealt with PEO’s continued discussions with government to eliminate the industrial exception. Since the 2016 AGM, PEO’s efforts to repeal the industrial exception intensified after the government’s decision to cancel it through Bill 27, the Burden Reduction Act, 2016. 

President Comrie advised that PEO’s efforts to eliminate the exception included several discussions with MPPs throughout the year, as well as the release of a research report to uncover causal links between worker injuries and fatalities in Ontario and the industrial exception. He said researchers used statistics, court prosecutions and Ministry of Labour investigations to analyze workplace incidents resulting from engineering work done by unlicensed employees. Four such incidents were found that resulted in worker injuries, including two fatalities.

PEO also presented its case to the Standing Committee on General Government in February 2017. Unfortunately, Bill 27 passed in March, cancelling the repeal.

PEO maintains that the repeal of the industrial exception is a workplace safety issue and will now work to facilitate the sharing of relevant information between the association and the Ministry of Labour so that PEO may more effectively regulate engineering in Ontario.

FINANCIAL REPORT

The president then referred members to the auditors’ report and financial statements, which were published to PEO’s website prior to the meeting, distributed as part of the meeting registration package and printed in the May/June 2016 issue of Engineering Dimensions.

He also noted the Questions and Answers on PEO Operations booklet, which addressed common questions on PEO operations and was included in the registration package.

With no questions from the floor regarding the financial statements, it was moved by Ravi Gupta, P.Eng., and seconded by Christian Bellini, P.Eng., that the financial statements, as presented, be received.

Motion carried

APPOINTMENT OF AUDITORS

Past President Chong advised that the Audit Committee recommended the firm of Deloitte LLP be reappointed.

It was moved by Danny Chui, P.Eng., seconded by Warren Turnbull, P.Eng., that the firm of Deloitte LLP be appointed auditors of the association for the 2017 financial year.

Motion carried

REGISTRAR’S REPORT

Registrar McDonald reported that revenues for the year ended December 31, 2016 were $24,140,235 less expenses of $23,732,739, resulting in a $370,625 surplus. Cash reserves, he noted, were $8 million, double the amount since 2012, which should place PEO in a good position when the mortgage comes due in 2019 and when it will be decided whether to pay down the mortgage or continue with investments. The registrar said PEO continued to have the lowest P.Eng. fees in Canada and the highest ratio of members to employees. Licence fees, he added, were frozen for the 10th consecutive year.

The registrar noted P.Eng. membership continues steady growth from 1.5 to 2 per cent a year, which has been constant over the past five years. He then provided additional statistics for 2016:

  • 80,576 professional engineers;
  • 13,101 engineering interns (EITs); and
  • 290 limited engineering licences (LELs).

The registrar highlighted progress on initiatives related to PEO’s 2015-2017 Strategic Plan—now in its third and final year. He said that approximately 71 per cent of the strategies that have been identified are now complete, with 29 per cent remaining to be completed. In terms of the activities associated with those particular strategies, over 90 per cent have been completed. He said PEO is on track to complete all of the its strategic priorities. Consultations for the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan have begun.

The registrar also discussed PEO’s efforts to repeal the industrial exception, including lobbying both government and opposition MPPs on the public safety risks involved with the exception, as well as the release of PEO’s Industrial Exception Research Project, which examined causal links between worker injuries and fatalities in Ontario and the industrial exception.

He said that though the appeal was lost, PEO established several good practices in collecting workplace incident data, which will be continued to build a case for the appeal. The Ministry of Labour has also committed to share more data. 

The registrar then reviewed 2016 accomplishments, including the development of the Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program, which launched on March 31, 2017. The PEAK program sees licence holders reporting on both their practice risk and continuing professional development activities. He said he will report back to Council in June 2018 to advise how the program has worked so far and to recommend any changes.

The registrar reported that PEO issued its first licensed engineering technologist (LET) licence to Lisa Miller of Toronto, an OACETT member. 

He also noted PEO conducted five successful enforcement prosecutions in 2016. 

The registrar said Council approved several practice guidelines on structural design services in buildings, structural condition assessment for existing buildings (related to Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry recommendations) and solid waste management. 

INTRODUCTION OF ASSOCIATION GUESTS—ENGINEERS CANADA

The president invited Engineers Canada to provide an update.

Engineers Canada President Chris Roney, P.Eng., BDS, C.E.T., thanked PEO for the invitation to attend the AGM. He said he was honoured to bring greetings and best wishes from Engineers Canada, the national body that unites the engineering regulators and the engineering profession in Canada. 

President Roney noted PEO now licenses more internationally trained engineering graduates than graduates of Canadian accredited engineering programs. On top of this, PEO and other Canadian engineering regulators are obligated by fairness commissions and human rights tribunals to ensure everyone seeking licensure is treated fairly and consistently regardless of where they received their training and experience. He said Engineers Canada is working with Canadian engineering regulators to meet these requirements while ensuring everyone is working to the highest common denominator to maintain the high standards that define engineering in Canada.

Roney then discussed the challenges of globalization and its work ensuring Canadian engineers are positioned to succeed in a global engineering environment. He said Engineers Canada has been working to ensure the federal government clearly understands the important public welfare role that engineers play in Canada and how trade agreements may impact how engineering is regulated, and the public protected, in Canada. 

President Roney also discussed how Engineers Canada is making sure Canadian engineers are recognized as meeting the highest standards of qualifications and professionalism in the world. For example, through membership on the International Engineering Alliance, Canadian engineers can have their professional standing recognized by 15 member nations representing approximately 65 per cent of the world’s GDP. He also discussed the new mobility register for engineers who want to be internationally recognized as professional engineers. Those on the register can use the designation “IntPE” after their names. 

President Roney said Engineers Canada recently completed a cross-Canada survey of the public’s perception of engineers and the engineering profession to get a sense of their level of confidence in the profession—and their expectations of it. He said survey results were very positive, with the public viewing engineers as technically proficient, having a high level of professional standards, innovative, doing their job well and being responsible for their actions. The survey also found the public has a high level of trust in engineers and that engineering work creates economic value. The bad news is that the public’s confidence and trust in engineers is something that can’t be taken for granted. The survey also showed that attitudes towards engineering in Quebec is distinctly lower than the rest of Canada—a direct result of the Charbonneau Commission into corruption and collusion in the construction sector that implicated some professional engineers in unethical and illegal practices. Engineering will exist as a self-regulated profession only so long as the public’s trust and confidence is maintained.

President Roney said the survey results show there is room for improvement. The public’s familiarity with engineers, when compared to other professions, is low—but as the public becomes more familiar with the profession, the scores on all of those positive characteristics increase even more. There is work to be done in strengthening the presence of the engineering profession in the minds of Canadians.

INTRODUCTION OF ASSOCIATION GUESTS—ONTARIO SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS

The president invited the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) to provide an update.

OSPE President and Chair Michael Monette, P.Eng., expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to attend and bring greetings on behalf of the society.

President Monette said he was proud of OSPE’s ongoing collaboration, as illustrated in the Two Sides of the Same Coin brochure. 

He said a good example of PEO-OSPE collaboration was last year’s first-ever Government Relations Conference with Political Action Network (OSPE) and Government Liaison Program (PEO) volunteers at the University of Toronto’s Hart House.   

President Monette stated that he was very proud of the progress OSPE has made in advocating for the profession over the past year. Three examples of OSPE’s most recent advocacy accomplishments include:

  1. Participating in the Construction Lien Act review process, which will create new legislation to bring Ontario’s construction laws up to date, supporting more than 400,000 Ontarians who work in the industry, including thousands of engineers. 
  2. Playing a role in creating Ontario’s first chief science officer—a government advisory role involving practical science and engineering evidence to help establish policy. 
  3. Facilitating the inclusion of five OSPE members on Ontario’s Building Code Technical Advisory Committee, to ensure environmental integrity, safety, accessibility and other key considerations are paramount at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Additionally, President Monette said OSPE is building on its popular “An Engineer Was Here” campaign in 2017 by highlighting the work of professional engineers and, in particular, women in engineering. 

He said OSPE’s upcoming membership campaign will focus on becoming a “complete engineer”—involving both a P.Eng. licence and committing to bettering society through advocacy, by way of an active OSPE membership.  

President Monette said OSPE must engage more directly with new graduates and newcomers to provide them with adequate help and support, and show them the value of fully joining the profession by obtaining their P.Eng. OSPE wants to help them work their way towards a successful career in engineering while showing them the importance of advocacy and why engineering expertise must be considered in public policy. 

ONTARIO PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATION

The president invited the president and chair for the Ontario Professional Engineers Foundation for Education (OPEFFE) to provide an update.

OPEFFE President and Chair Marisa Sterling, P.Eng., expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to attend and bring greetings on behalf of the foundation—a body that provides financial assistance to engineering students.

She said that, to date, the foundation has awarded over $2.7 million to more than 3000 students and engineers.

Over 2016, 118 awards were given out across all of Ontario’s 15 accredited engineering schools, including Lakehead University, which is 50/50 gender balanced; to first-year students; course awards for students between second and fourth year; a gold medal for the highest achieving engineering graduate with leadership skills; the Engineers 
Without Borders Leaders for the Future partnership award, which supports a student to go overseas for development; and the benevolent fund, which provides assistance for engineers in financial need. This has amounted to $155,000 for the year, which is equivalent to giving back over 13,000 hours for students in time to study, to innovate and to create.  

PRESIDENT COMRIE’S OUTGOING REPORT

President Comrie said it was a productive year in spite of the setback regarding the industrial exception. He stated that he wanted to broaden the scope of his review, similar to a mini “state of the union” address or—in this case—the “state of the profession.” He asked attendees to participate in a short survey to produce a PEO report card by answering a series of questions. Each question was in the form of an assertion as to how well PEO was doing at some aspect of professional self-regulation.                                

  1. PEO licenses only those who will practice competently and responsibly
    Not accurate at all (11 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (8 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (8 per cent); mostly accurate (59 per cent); completely accurate (14 per cent).
  1. PEO deals effectively with licensees for whom there is evidence of incompetence or professional misconduct
    Not accurate at all (5 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (7 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (11 per cent); mostly accurate (60 per cent); completely accurate (17 per cent).
  1. PEO helps its licensees to understand what is expected of them in terms of professional practice in various situations
    Not accurate at all (7 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (21 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (37 per cent); mostly accurate (30 per cent); completely accurate (5 per cent).
  1. Engineering work that fits the definition of the practice of professional engineering in our act is being done by licensed professionals
    Not accurate at all (17 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (23 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (32 per cent); mostly accurate (23 per cent); completely accurate (6 per cent).
  1. Most practicing professional engineers do so competently and professionally
    Not accurate at all (3 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (4 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (11 per cent); mostly accurate (61 per cent); completely accurate (22 per cent).
  1. Most practicing professional engineers are maintaining their technical and professional competence
    Not accurate at all (5 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (12 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (22 per cent); mostly accurate (50 per cent); completely accurate (11 per cent).
  1. Professional engineers are living up to our obligation to serve and protect the public interest
    Not accurate at all (5 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (4 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (11 per cent); mostly accurate (68 per cent); completely accurate (14 per cent).
  1. Professional engineers have influence in society comparable to members of other senior professions like accounting, law and medicine
    Not accurate at all (21 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (33 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (22 per cent); mostly accurate (20 per cent); completely accurate (3 per cent).
  1. Professional engineers are appropriately compensated for their contribution to society
    Not accurate at all (42 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (28 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (16 per cent); mostly accurate (10 per cent); completely accurate (4 per cent).
  1. PEO’s culture as an organization is appropriate to sustain its leadership and to achieve its mission and vision
    Not accurate at all (8 per cent); more inaccurate than accurate (28 per cent); neither accurate nor inaccurate (30 per cent); mostly accurate (29 per cent); completely accurate (6 per cent).

President Comrie said that one year ago he mentioned three areas which he believed PEO should focus on improving. He was pleased to report on each of the three areas, but cautioned that each still required work.

He said the first area was regulatory excellence. Over the last Council term, most of the backlog of regulation changes that had accumulated over 10 years (mostly related to licensing) was dealt with. This achievement resulted from a sustained effort of PEO’s Academic Requirements, Experience Requirements, Licensing, and Legislation committees.

President Comrie also reported that PEO is substantially ready to respond to the recommendations of the Bélanger Commission as soon as the Ontario legislature passes the required enabling legislation.

In addition, said President Comrie, 2016-2017 saw substantial progress towards implementation of continuing competence assurance for PEO licensees, culminating in the rollout of the Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program on March 31, 2017. When the current membership renewal cycle is complete a year from now PEO will, for the first time in its history, have a reliable database of information on its licensees’ scope(s) of practice, their practice environments and associated risks, and what they are doing to maintain technical competence in those scopes of practice. He said credit is due to PEO’s (CP)2 Task Force for their leadership and innovation on this important project. However, the task of continually improving PEO’s regulatory instruments and processes will never be complete. A backlog of issues remains to be addressed, such as:

  • the introduction of structured engineering internships;
  • requirements and processes to assess suitability to practice; and
  • an enhanced (internal) appeal process for licensing decisions.

Comrie said he believed the absence of exclusive scopes of practice for so many PEO licence holders is the biggest obstacle to effective regulation of professional engineering in the public interest in Ontario, and to improving PEO’s capture rate of individuals with engineering qualifications. All the evidence at hand suggests that:

  1. Only about a third of those with engineering qualifications in our labour force are practising professional engineering;
  2. A majority of PEO licence holders do not require their licence to earn a living; and
  3. Much of professional engineering that clearly falls within the definition of the practice of professional engineering in the Professional Engineers Act is being done by unlicensed individuals, with impunity.

President Comrie said he clearly supports increased enforcement of section 12 of the act; however, he said this alone will not substantially impact the problem of unlicensed practice. He said that without demand-side mechanisms like building code requirements for engineering work product to be signed and sealed, PEO’s ability to identify occurrences of unlicensed practice, and to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute it, is severely limited. In a recent meeting with the attorney general of Ontario, he said he raised this “enforceability” issue as an example of how the engineering profession is hampered in its self-regulation as compared to other senior professions that have mechanisms to enforce their requirement for licensure built into acceptance of (and in the case of doctors and teachers, for example, payment for) their services.

At its workshop last spring, President Comrie said Council discussed the possibility of a public information campaign to help the public better understand how professional engineers are protecting their safety and wellbeing—mostly out of sight and mind. He said a task force has been formed to develop the terms of reference for such a campaign.

President Comrie said a similar topic involves embracing emerging disciplines, such as industrial engineering, software engineering, communications infrastructure engineering (CIE) and nanomolecular engineering (NME). He said that while both industrial engineering and software engineering emerged some time ago, the engineering profession failed to embrace them as the practice of professional engineering and to begin regulating them in a timely manner, and so to a large extent they escaped PEO’s purview. 

President Comrie stated PEO is now trying to avoid making the same mistake with CIE and NME. To this end, he said, over the past year PEO staff and volunteers have attempted to license a “critical mass” of CIE practitioners. He said licensing existing practitioners in an emerging discipline such as CIE tends to pose problems for PEO’s licensing process, since none of them hold degrees in accredited Canadian engineering programs with that specialization (to this day, no such programs exist), and many of them lack post-secondary degrees or diplomas in any field of engineering, science or technology—having acquired their domain knowledge of networking and cyber security on the job.

He said the good news is that there are just under 50 applications from CIE practitioners currently working their way through the licensing system, with some expected to be licensed shortly. The bad news is the current lack of process by which applicants for limited licences who do not meet the academic requirement can demonstrate they have, in fact, acquired the necessary knowledge to support their intended scope(s) of practices. Some may ask, why bother with such applicants? The answer is that they are currently practising engineering (within the meaning of the act) without a licence, and PEO is powerless to stop them. Many such individuals are seeking credentials to substantiate their knowledge and skill, but if it is made too difficult for them to obtain licensure, they will simply turn elsewhere for credentials, said President Comrie. PEO has a very limited window of opportunity to capture a critical mass of CIE practitioners before the engineering profession loses its claim to these scopes of practice by default.

President Comrie reported significant progress on PEO leadership development and succession—the third topic he mentioned a year ago. He said many AGM attendees participated in the Volunteer Leadership Conference held during the same weekend. Facilitated by David Irvine, the conference focused on building PEO’s leadership capacity and provided an opportunity for PEO’s volunteer leaders to meet and enhance their leadership skills in a workshop setting.

In 2016, said President Comrie, PEO Council mandated all standing committees to incorporate into their terms of reference provisions for term limits and succession planning by April 2017. He said the Regional Councillors Committee is now considering extending a similar mandate to chapter executives.

President Comrie said the Council Term Limits Task Force had reported twice to Council, and was expected to bring its final recommendations to Council for approval in June. To address questions raised at the end of yesterday’s conference, Comrie stated he believes Council supports the introduction of “moderate” term limits for Council positions—the challenge will be to arrive at a consensus on the definition of moderate. 

President Comrie noted that, taken together, these measures will help to achieve greater consistency and sustainability of PEO’s volunteer leadership. He stated it must be recognized, however, that term limits in and of themselves will not achieve the desired sustainable leadership succession. Additional measures in the areas of leadership development, formalized succession planning and election procedures will be required to round out the effort.

President Comrie reported that the first of a series of online learning modules covering various aspects of PEO-specific domain knowledge rolled out late in 2016, and will be followed by several more in 2017. The goal of these modules is to assist in onboarding new PEO volunteers and staff by conveying essential information about PEO’s role and mandate, regulatory operations, organization and governance in order to achieve greater consistency in understanding of key concepts. He encouraged attendees to check out PEO’s website under the Resources tab to test drive the modules available.

In summary, President Comrie indicated there has been slow but steady progress on many fronts; however, there is still lots of work to do on these and other strategic initiatives. He said he remains optimistic for the future of the self-regulating engineering profession. President Comrie said there is talent, energy and commitment, and he said he believes there are now better processes in place to avoid some of the mistakes and conflicts of the past. 

President Comrie stated it had been his pleasure to serve as president and he looks forward to continuing to work closely with Council and the other members of the Executive Leadership Team in the coming Council term.

MEMBER SUBMISSIONS

President Comrie stated that, as noted in section 17 of By-Law No. 1, PEO’s annual general meeting is held:

  • to lay before members, reports of the association’s Council and committees;
  • to inform members of matters relating to the affairs of the association; and
  • to ascertain the views of the members present on matters relating to the affairs of the association. 

He noted that submissions presented to the AGM are a way for members in attendance to express their views on matters relating to the affairs of the association. Member submissions are not binding on Council, he continued, but Council considers the issues raised at AGMs to be very important and will be addressed expeditiously.

President Comrie asked the proponent of the first submission to introduce their motion.

Darla Campbell, P.Eng., introduced her motion by noting various news reports (included as background information in the AGM package) on other Canadian regulators that had lost their ability to self-regulate due to ineffective governance practices. She stated engineering exists as a self-regulating profession only as long as public confidence is maintained in PEO’s ability to govern itself. She then stated she felt PEO should solicit expert advice on governance practices to ensure it maintains self-regulatory status.

There were some suggestions regarding the engagement of a consultant to undertake a governance review.

Peter DeVita, P.Eng., noted it is important the consultant understand self-regulation. He further noted engineering tends to have expanding scopes of practice as new science and new technology emerges, creating entirely new engineering disciplines (i.e. software engineering) and this needs to be taken into account so Council is able to deal with an expanding profession. He stated there should also be good key performance indicators in place—i.e. how many PEO members actually need their P.Eng. to do engineering and how much engineering is done outside the profession.   

Ravi Gupta, P.Eng., suggested consideration be given to what is available within the organization in terms of corporate memory. 

Ammar Nawaz, P.Eng., noted it is important there be a clear mandate and to articulate a set of criteria to ensure PEO is equipped to fulfill its role on a continued basis.

Annette Bergeron, P.Eng., suggested the development of a problem definition.

Moved by Darla Campbell, P.Eng., seconded by Kelly Reid, P.Eng.

WHEREAS Since our last AGM, other regulators have lost their ability to self-regulate due to ineffective governance practices (e.g. Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, Tarion in Ontario and the BC real estate industry);

WHEREAS Council has powers to seek new governance perspectives and approaches to enhance excellence in governance with a commitment to innovation and evidence-based approaches;

WHEREAS Council needs expert advice to ensure it makes the best decision in modernizing its governance with a commitment to being proactive, effective and innovative using an evidence-based approach; and

WHEREAS Self-regulation is a privilege, not a right or entitlement. The profession must protect the public interest or risk losing that privilege, along with the confidence of government and the public.

THEREFORE BE IT SUBMITTED THAT:

PEO engage an external governance expert to advise Council independently on how to modernize the governance of the organization in order to ensure self-regulatory status and that the principles of the new governance model be presented to Council for approval before the next annual general meeting. 

Motion carried

President Comrie asked the proponent of the second submission to introduce their motion.

Gordon Ip, P.Eng., advised that his motion was intended to extend goodwill and enhance inclusiveness in PEO by expanding the Financial Credit Program (FCP) to include refugee international engineering graduates.

Registrar McDonald, responding to a query about the Financial Credit Program, advised that the requirement for proof of Canadian citizenship or permanent residency status was based on the 2007 requirements for licensure, when a P.Eng. had to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Consequently, at that time, international engineering graduate refugees were not considered eligible for the FCP. 

Registrar McDonald further advised that 2010 amendments to the Professional Engineers Act, under the Open for Business Act, removed the citizenship and residency requirements for licensure—however, the qualifications for the Financial Credit Program were not adjusted. He stated PEO recognizes a change to the policy is required and the matter is now before the Licensing Committee. PEO needs to ensure the person the licence is being issued to is able to work in Canada. This will ultimately be presented to the Licensing Committee and then to Council for final approval.

Joe Podrebarac, P.Eng., referred to the preamble regarding the 12-month period of support after submitting to FCP within six months of their landing date in Canada and that in this situation this would apply not to the landed date for the legal immigrants but to the refugee acceptance date.  

Moved by Gordon Ip, P.Eng., seconded by Vimbai Munyukwi, P.Eng.

WHEREAS Members with permanent resident and Canadian citizenship immigration status in Canada are eligible and exempt (under the Engineering Intern Financial Credit Program (FCP)) from having to pay membership fees for the first 12 months (after submitting to FCP within PEO, the same conditions should apply or be extended to similarly situated; refugee international engineering graduates in the interest of parity and fairness;

WHEREAS Canadian men and women of various ethnic, cultural and racial backgrounds are looking for entry into either engineering, engineering technology, computers and information technology, accounting, health and other various fields of employment, be it resolved that, given PEO provides accreditation of academic and professional engineering experience, providing guidelines to newcomers and skilled immigrants, it is within the mandate of PEO to provide assistance to qualified applicants;

WHEREAS PEO provides workshops and seminars on various aspects and approaches to seeking and securing employment for newcomers through its chapters, that: registration fees on job seekers who fit the profile of “refugee international engineering graduates” be waived where they may otherwise be too onerous and an impediment to satisfying the requirements to be members, so as to benefit from the rights and privileges that would otherwise accrue to fee paying members;

WHEREAS The Engineering Intern Financial Credit Program (FCP) motion was approved by PEO Council in 2007 in the same spirit and intent of this Member’s Submission “Inclusiveness.“ “At its January 2007 meeting, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) Council approved motions to enhance inclusiveness in the profession by creating an Engineering Intern Financial Credit Program (FCP). Subsequently, at its March meeting, Council approved the implementation plan for this program. Under this initiative, which will launch May 1, 2007, individuals who have graduated from Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) accredited bachelor of engineering programs or international engineering graduates (IEG) with a bachelor of engineering or applied science degree may register in the Engineering Intern (EIT) program for the first year provided they meet specific criteria established by PEO”;

THEREFORE BE IT SUBMITTED THAT:

The Engineering Intern Financial Credit Program (FCP) be expanded to include refugee international engineering graduates.

Moved by Marcelo Sarkis, P.Eng., seconded by Gordon Ip, P.Eng.

That the motion be amended by including the words “legally recognized” before refugee.

Amendment carried

Members then voted on the main motion as amended.

The Engineering Intern Financial Credit Program (FCP) be expanded to include legally recognized refugee international engineering graduates.

Motion carried

REMARKS BY THUNDER BAY-RAINY RIVER MP DON RUSNAK

President Comrie introduced Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Don Rusnak advising that, being born and raised in Northwestern Ontario, MP Rusnak has deep roots in the area; and as the proud son of Ukrainian and Anishinaabe (Ojibway) parents, he understands the diverse and pressing issues facing his community.

President Comrie then stated MP Rusnak has extensive professional experience drawing from his work in the forestry industry, public sector, and from his own legal practice. While working with Manitoba Health, he helped to improve the delivery of healthcare services for Northern Manitobans, and as a Crown prosecutor in Eastern Alberta, he prosecuted criminal and regulatory offences. The president said MP Rusnak has long demonstrated strong leadership skills, having served as the interim executive director for Grand Council Treaty #3 in Kenora.

President Comrie went on to note MP Rusnak has volunteered his time with many organizations, such as the Ontario Justice Education Network and the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, a group that improves elementary and secondary school education outcomes for Aboriginal Canadians through the implementation of specific programs and the application of appropriate research.

President Comrie finished his introduction of MP Rusnak by noting that he studied political science and integrated forest resource management at Lakehead University. He stated that in 2001, MP Rusnak attended the University of Manitoba, Robson Hall faculty of law and, during his final year, attended Osgoode Hall Law School to study in the intensive program in Aboriginal lands, resources and governments.

In the beginning of his address to the AGM, MP Rusnak advised that it was an honour to welcome everyone to his hometown of Thunder Bay. He noted how important engineers are to Canada and that as the only First Nations Member of Parliament in Ontario, he is aware the quality of work, safety and care engineers take in their work with First Nations is extremely important to those communities. 

MP Rusnak stated that as the Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River, he was delighted to hear Professional Engineers Ontario was hosting its 95th annual general meeting in his community for the first time in its history. He said when he thought of engineering, two individuals came to mind: One was an engineer friend who had worked in the North Sea aboard oil platforms, in the wilds of Alaska, and in corporate offices in Houston, Texas and Paris. The second, he said, was one of his predecessors who also served as the Member of Parliament for the local riding, then known as Port Arthur—a certain engineer by the name of CD Howe. Mr. Howe was recruited by former prime minister Mackenzie King and went on to become the federal minister of almost everything for 22 years. His wide range of skills and knowledge are a testimate to the profession, said MP Rusnak.

MP Rusnak advised that since he was first elected, he has enjoyed a strong relationship with PEO’s colleagues at Engineers Canada and was particularly interested to see Engineers Canada’s initiative to encourage more participation of First Nations people in engineering schools. He indicated that he was delighted to acknowledge PEO for the important work they have done to improve public safety in their role as the regulator of professional engineering in Ontario.

PRESENTATION OF OUTGOING COUNCILLORS

President Comrie congratulated members of the 2016-2017 Council who had worked diligently to move the profession forward.

In recognition of their service, he presented certificates, name badges and desk plaques to retiring members of Council: East Central Region Councillor Changiz Sadr and Lieutenant Governor-in-Council Appointees Rakesh Shreewastav and Mary Long-Irwin.   

Three outgoing councillors unable to attend were recognized as well: Roger Jones, councillor-at-large, Ewald Kuczera, Western Region councilor, and Pat Quinn, vice president (elected).

INSTALLATION OF NEW PRESIDENT

Past President Comrie administered the oath of office to Bob Dony as president for the 2017-2018 term and presented him with the president’s chain of office along with the gavel of office. 

INTRODUCTION OF INCOMING MEMBERS OF COUNCIL

President Dony then introduced the 2017-2018 members of Council: Past President George Comrie, President-elect David Brown, Vice President Nancy Hill, BASc, P.Eng., LLB, FEC, FCAE, Councillors-at-Large Christian Bellini, Roydon Fraser and Kelly Reid, P.Eng., IACCM CCMP, Eastern Region Councillors Guy Boone and Ishwar Bhatia, MEng, P.Eng., East Central Region Councillors Noubar Takessian and Thomas Chong, Northern Region Councillors Michael Wesa, and Dan Preley, West Central Region Councillors Danny Chui and Warren Turnbull, Western Region Councillors Gary Houghton and Lola Hidalgo, P.Eng., PMP, and Lieutenant Governor-in-Council Appointees Michael Chan, P.Eng., Tim Kirkby, P.Eng., Qadira Jackson Kouakou, Lew Lederman, Tomiwa Olukiyesi, P.Eng., and Marilyn Spink, P.Eng.

CLOSING REMARKS BY PRESIDENT DONY

President Dony thanked Past President Comrie and expressed his appreciation for the dedication and enthusiasm with which he had approached his role as president.

President Dony noted that he was humbled and grateful for the support of the members and his colleagues in allowing him the honour and privilege to serve as the 97th president of the association. He advised that when he stood for election he talked about “moving forward” and that his focus on the future of the profession comes naturally to him as a university professor in Guelph’s biomedical engineering program where he is surrounded by the next generation of engineers. It is their profession PEO should be working for, he said.

President Dony then discussed his personal perspectives, noting that he has one son in third-year mechanical engineering, another son who is an environmental engineering graduate and a daughter who is completing her masters in biomedical engineering.

So, what does their profession look like?, President Dony asked. He said it is certainly different than the one he entered when he graduated in 1986 with his degree in systems design engineering. At that time, he noted, such a non-traditional program was very much the exception to the classical engineering disciplines of the day.

Today, said President Dony, there are over 100 different accredited engineering programs in Canada, and the old framework of discrete engineering disciplines is obsolete. Instead, he said, there is a continuum of engineering competencies and scopes of practice, a spectrum that ranges from civil engineering to biomedical engineering, and everything in between. He noted this is a world of maker spaces, hack-a-thons, unicorns and self-driving cars. He asked how would one take a regulatory framework that, some would argue, was designed for 19th-century technology and adapt it to today’s 21st-century reality?

President Dony advised that at Ontario universities, he sees innovations in both engineering research and teaching methods, including problem-based learning, flipped classrooms and massive open online courses (or MOOCs). The classroom of 1986 is not the classroom of 2017, he said. President Dony then noted that to ensure PEO as a regulator keeps up with these changes in engineering education, he had organized a workshop between PEO and the Ontario deans of engineering in June to discuss how the accreditation system can adapt to the new realities of engineering education.

President Dony then said PEO must embrace a culture of change as part of its DNA, with succession planning and renewal both key to ensuring fresh perspectives are brought into the organization, from the chapter system, through committees, right up to Council. He said the members’ motions concerning term limits at the 2015 AGM spoke to this issue directly, and the resulting Council-appointed Council Term Limits Task Force will be presenting its final recommendations at the June Council meeting.

President Dony advised that while encouraging new voices to enter the conversation, PEO must ensure a diversity of voices that represent not just the profession, but society as a whole. He stated that he is a middle-aged, white, cis-gendered straight male—and hardly a poster-boy for such a diverse conversation. However, he said, this not a “women’s issue” or a “minority issue,” but an issue that everyone must own—particularly those in that median demographic such as himself. For example, President Dony noted, Engineers Canada has the “30 by 30” goal to raise the percentage of newly licensed female engineers to 30 per cent by 2030. Can PEO take a leadership role and exceed this goal for its own leadership, he asked? President Dony noted the past election saw three women successfully elected for the seven contested positions.  While this one result is very encouraging, 
he said, there still is much to do.

President Dony stated the expectations of society on whose behalf PEO serves has also changed over the years. He said today’s public rightly demands much more transparency in how professions govern themselves. He said Past President Comrie has often spoken of the “contract” between the public and the profession, and that PEO gains the privilege of self-regulation in exchange for the obligation to protect the public as its primary function. This arrangement is increasingly under scrutiny for all professions, he noted. President Dony then stated PEO is very disappointed by the government’s about-face on the repeal of the industrial exception. He said doctors are concerned about the erosion of their self-governing powers with the new Protecting Patients Act; and the placing of the Quebec regulator, Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ), into trusteeship last year is yet another blow to self-regulation.

President Dony stated he believes that understanding the need for more transparency and taking a proactive response is the best approach.  And he said the introduction of PEO’s Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program is an excellent demonstration to the public of PEO’s desire to regulate the profession openly and transparently. He noted last month’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding mandatory professional development standards for lawyers, and quoted from the court’s decision: “While they may improve the currency of a lawyer’s knowledge, these standards also protect the public interest by enhancing the integrity and professional responsibility of lawyers, and by promoting public confidence in the profession.” President Dony said he fully supports the PEAK pilot that was launched on March 31 and that he will work to support its further evolution as more experience is gained with the program over the coming year.

President Dony again expressed his gratitude to those members of the profession who put their trust in him. He thanked Past President Comrie for his past year of service as president. He stated he was looking forward to the challenges ahead, to working diligently to fulfill his obligations as PEO president, including: working with the new Council and various partners in the engineering profession, OSPE, CEO, OACETT, and others; meeting many PEO volunteers and members at chapter events and other engineering activities across Ontario; and hearing peoples’ diverse views on the myriad issues facing the profession. President Dony finished by saying the strength of the profession rests on the shoulders of its over 85,000 members; and he looks forward to “crowd sourcing” a path together to move the great profession forward for the next generation of practitioners. 

CONCLUSION

President Dony then declared the 95th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Professional Engineers concluded.

Gerard McDonald, P.Eng.
Registrar

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