2018 AGM celebrates achievement tinged with note of caution

The Ontario engineering regulator hosted its 96th Annual General Meeting on April 21 at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto. Despite concern by PEO’s new leadership about disruption on the horizon, a generally positive spirit pervaded the assembly following the previous evening’s Order of Honour Awards gala (see p. 14), and the ideas-nurturing events at the April 20 Volunteer Leadership Conference (see p. 12).

As outgoing President Bob Dony, PhD, P.Eng., FEC, handed over the reigns to new President David Brown, P.Eng., BDS, C.E.T., there was a sense of continuity and shared understanding of the need to prepare the engineering regulator for some challenging constraints.

“When I stood for election two years ago, I ran on the platform of moving forward for a stronger profession to sum up my thinking on how I wanted to focus my efforts as PEO president,” Dony said at the outset. “As I reflect on Council’s work over the past year, I think we accomplished much to further this goal.”

However, despite a past year of relative accomplishment, both Dony and Brown cautioned against PEO complacency. As the incoming president noted: “PEO is on the cusp of being disrupted as the exponential development of technology changes the face of the world we live in, by what is being termed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Brown added that the status quo is no longer acceptable for engineering regulators. “For us to stick our collective heads in the sand and hope for the best is far from a prudent course of action,” Brown said. “Engineering, as defined under our act, is being carried out all around us and will continue to expand, yet we are almost powerless to put a rope around it and to regulate it. As time advances, our ability to encapsulate these evolving fields will be limited by the resources available to us and, as such, the fence around our regulatory regime will continue to shrink.”

Before Brown took the oath of office, the standard agenda of annual meeting activity held sway. This included the introduction of the 2018-2019 PEO Council, the adoption of the audited financial statements and the salute to retiring Council members. Retiring from Council are George Comrie, P.Eng., FEC, Christian Bellini, P.Eng., FEC, Michael Wesa, P.Eng., FEC, Dan Preley, P.Eng., Noubar Takessian, P.Eng., FEC, and Danny Chui, P.Eng., FEC.

The 2018 annual meeting included three submissions from members at large. The first submission from Juwairia Obaid, P.Eng., and seconded by Hasan Akhter, P.Eng., both from PEO’s Etobicoke Chapter, called for a task force to consider a comprehensive leadership development program in support of PEO volunteers and potential leaders.

“For the future of our self-regulated profession, it is essential that PEO volunteers be given the opportunity and tools to develop and enhance the skills required to become PEO’s visionary and progressive leaders,” Obaid said in support of the submission.

The leadership development motion was approved by a wide margin.

Two complementary submissions came from Ray Linseman, P.Eng., FEC, of the Thousand Islands Chapter, the first calling for PEO chapters to be allowed to advertise local events by email, but in such a way as to avoid anti-spam legislation obstacles. The second Linseman submission called on Council to allow all PEO volunteers the use of webmail accounts to improve member engagement and to facilitate greater communication between volunteers and PEO staff.

Both Linseman submissions were approved with large majorities.

Member submissions are not binding on Council but are brought forward to the Executive Committee for consideration.

In one case, a member submission by now President-elect Nancy Hill, P.Eng., LLB, FEC, at the 2015 Annual General Meeting led to Council’s recent embrace of term limits and leadership development protocols. As outgoing President Dony described, “This is what happens: motions from the members can enact regulation changes for the profession.”

In addition to the annual meeting member submissions route, Dony outlined other options for members to make their voices heard. These include bringing matters to Council’s attention through the chapter executive or Regional Councillors Committee or by direct contact with the president, any member of Council or the registrar.

“You can even request that they be added to the agenda of an upcoming Council meeting by providing notice of the item and any accompanying materials to the corporate secretary three full weeks prior to the meeting,” Dony added. “So, I encourage you not to wait for the AGM to bring matters to Council but instead to do so whenever an issue of concern arises.”

Special guests attending this year’s annual meeting included then Engineers Canada president-elect and former PEO president Annette Bergeron, P.Eng., FEC, who outlined the vital link between provincial regulators and the national association. “PEO is critical to our success and we are there to serve the regulators in promoting and maintaining the interests, honour and integrity of Canadian engineers,” Bergeron said.

Other guests included Engineers Canada CEO Gerard McDonald, P.Eng. (former PEO registrar), Ontario Society of Professional Engineers President Jonathan Hack, P.Eng., and CEO Sandro Perruzza, Consulting Engineers of Ontario head Bruce Matthews, P.Eng., Engineers Without Borders CEO Boris Martin, as well as representatives from provincial engineering regulators.

This year’s annual meeting included a video-recorded greeting from Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, who praised the work of engineers across Ontario. “Our government is proud to support the important work of engineers and to collaborate with PEO Council to ensure safety, competitiveness and governance within the engineering community,” Naqvi said. “You are trusted leaders who offer sustainable solutions to make Ontario a safe place to play and work. As you know, March 1 marked the first official Professional Engineers Day in Ontario, a great milestone for the industry and the first of its kind in Canada. And while people benefit daily from your work as engineers, each year we can now recognize and truly appreciate your contributions to our communities and the economy.”

Before administering the oath of office to the new president, Dony reflected on highlights of the past year. He cited the regulator’s success in winning key amendments to the Professional Engineers Act, which strengthen PEO’s regulatory role and add transparency to certain operations. Dony also mentioned PEO’s endorsement of Engineers Canada’s 30 by 30 diversity campaign, the adoption of term limits for Council members, the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan and the upcoming public information campaign as other significant achievements of the past year.

Dony also saluted the work of former registrar Gerard McDonald, P.Eng., who in February took on the role of CEO at Engineers Canada. McDonald was succeeded by Interim Registrar Johnny Zuccon, P.Eng., FEC (see Engineering Dimensions, March/April 2018, p. 8).

“As much as we thank Gerard, we must thank Interim Registrar Johnny Zuccon for stepping in,” Dony said. “He has done a fantastic job so far in keeping the good ship PEO moving forward.”

In his first act as new president, David Brown welcomed new elected and appointed members of the 2018-2019 Council: President-elect Nancy Hill, Vice President (elected) Marisa Sterling, P.Eng., FEC, Councillor-at-Large Gregory Wowchuk, P.Eng., Northern Region Councillors Serge Robert, P.Eng., and Ramesh Subramanian, PhD, P.Eng., Eastern Region Councillor Guy Boone, P.Eng., FEC, East Central Region Councillor Keivan Torabi, PhD, P.Eng., Western Region Councillor Gary Houghton, P.Eng., FEC, and West Central Region Councillor Lisa MacCumber, P.Eng. Brown later spoke of his grooming for the president’s office and the support derived from colleagues, family and PEO staff members. “I owe much of my gratitude to my mentors, George Comrie and Bob Dony, who have been instrumental in my education of all things PEO,” Brown said. “Some of you will agree with that education, some, perhaps not, but nonetheless it is what it is. As well, I give thanks to the senior management team here at PEO, the incredible staff, who have given of themselves tirelessly over the years. I really appreciate all their help, diligence and tireless efforts. In addition, I’d like to thank all my current and past Council colleagues and, of course, the multitude of volunteers before me that have helped form who I am today.”