Advocacy group urges P.Engs to step up policy-influencing work

Ontario’s engineering advocacy group is stepping up efforts to influence public policy and raise public and governmental awareness of the profession’s societal benefits.

At its 18th annual general meeting on May 8 in Oakville, Ontario, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) stressed the need to elevate the profession’s profile and enhance community engagement to add value to OSPE membership.

Keynote speaker at the 2018 meeting was Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, who saluted OSPE for its creative advocacy work and for its efforts to promote diversity and inclusiveness within the profession. He also said OSPE’s government relations activity leaves all three of Ontario’s main political parties with a better understanding of engineers’ contributions.

Later in the meeting, Flynn signed OSPE’s new Engineering Ally pledge form, which commits political leaders to acknowledging engineers as trusted, ethical leaders creating solutions for complex social problems. Details of OSPE’s Engineering Ally campaign, timed to coincide with the recent Ontario provincial election, formed a major part of information reported to members at the annual meeting.

Other guests at the meeting included PEO President David Brown, P.Eng., BDS, C.E.T., Bruce Matthews, P.Eng., head of Consulting Engineers of Ontario, Annette Bergeron, P.Eng., FEC, Engineers Canada then president-elect, Marisa Sterling, P.Eng., PEO vice president and president of the Ontario Professional Engineers Foundation for Education, and Greg Miller, C.E.T., president of the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists.

OSPE President and Chair Jonathan Hack, P.Eng., said an emphasis on public engagement and policy influencing are key planks in the society’s advocacy mandate. “Policy makers from all levels of government are also increasingly recognizing the importance of having engineers and the engineering voice at the policy-making table,” Hack said. “After months of proactive outreach in 2017, OSPE gained unanimous consent from all three political parties at Queen’s Park for the creation of the first-ever Professional Engineers Day in Ontario on March 1. Professional Engineers Day marks a major win for our members and an important day for professional engineers from coast to coast as the first day of its kind in Canada.”

The annual meeting is the traditional venue to announce election results and introduce new members of OSPE’s board of directors. In addition to Hack’s reappointment as president and chair, newly elected OSPE directors include Jim Chisholm, P.Eng., Jerome James, P.Eng., Angela Woityla, P.Eng., and Laura Yu, P.Eng.

The 2018 annual meeting included presentation of OSPE’s President’s Award to recipients Paul Acchione, P.Eng., Valerie Davidson, PhD, P.Eng., and Steven Rose, P.Eng.

Advocacy and public policy-influencing work is becoming increasingly difficult as more stakeholders compete for government attention. As OSPE CEO Sandro Perruzza noted at the annual meeting: “The advocacy space at Queens Park is increasingly crowded as other professions seek support on their key initiatives. OSPE is mobilizing Ontario’s engineers to unite to amplify the voice of our profession. We need to ensure the expertise of the engineer is front and centre so each of you is in a position to continue innovating and delivering solutions to society’s complex challenges.”