Time to speak up for engineering

On June 7, Ontario voters will have elected a new government. Provincial elections are vitally important because Queen’s Park is responsible for so many decisions—on topics ranging from healthcare to highways and education to energy—that impact our daily lives.

This is especially true for the engineering profession. The Professional Engineers Act (PEA) is a creation of the legislature and the attorney general is accountable for it to MPPs. This is the legislation that defines engineering as a profession and gives PEO responsibility for regulating it in the public interest.

The PEA is not a stagnant law but is, in fact, one that was recently updated by the legislature. It was strengthened as part of Bill 177, the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), which passed in a vote on December 14, 2017 (see Engineering Dimensions, March/April 2018, p. 25).

Bill 177 is a great example of how collaboration between PEO and government can benefit the public interest. As well, it shows the value in electing MPPs who understand engineering.

This year, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) has launched a public campaign, #EngineeringAlly.

Engineering has long been called the silent profession—but no more. OSPE is supporting Ontario’s 80,000 professional engineers to get loud, become engaged and ask more of their government. The Engineering Ally pledge asks current and future MPPs to make key, high-level commitments to support the success of our engineering community for the benefit of all Ontarians and the communities they work, live and play in. They will be asking election candidates from all parties to sign a five-point pledge to become an Engineering Ally and support Ontario’s engineering community.

More information on OSPE’s #EngineeringAlly campaign and a copy of the pledge can be found at www.engineeringally.ca.


“Engineers make important contributions to the strong and innovative ecosystem we have built over the past 15 years,” said Granville Anderson, MPP (Durham), in the legislature when he presented a private member’s bill to make March 1 Professional Engineers Day in Ontario. “Engineers support growth and productivity in all of our province’s major sectors.”

The bill, a result of another great initiative by OSPE, was passed unanimously. This is the first profession to be recognized by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for an official day and the first of its kind in Canada.

“It is very important to me that we take time to celebrate engineering professionals,“ Anderson said. “Madam Speaker, professional engineers are the people we trust to innovate, design, build and safeguard the world around us. They abide by a strict code of ethics under the Professional Engineers Act that demands fairness and loyalty, fidelity to public needs, personal honour and professional integrity, and continuous professional development.”


Of course, another way to create strong links between the profession and government is to encourage more engineers to run for office. There were only two MPPs elected in the last election that were engineers: Jim McDonell, MPP (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry), and Jack MacLaren, MPP (Carleton-Mississippi Mills). Clearly, we need to elect more people with a P.Eng. as MPPs.

When there are no engineers on the ballot, it’s still important for professionals to get involved and engage with their local candidates.

While PEO will never recommend a particular candidate or party, it is always important to support good people running in your own riding. This coming election will provide many great opportunities for PEO members to get to know local candidates and get involved. Election campaigns are a time to speak up, so let’s make sure the voice of professional engineers is heard.

Jeannette Chau, P.Eng., is the manager of government liaison programs for PEO. Howard Brown is president of Brown & Cohen Communications & Public Affairs Inc., and PEO’s government relations consultant. Mike Winterburn is an account director at Brown & Cohen Communications & Public Affairs.