While this annual report covers the 2019-2020 fiscal year, it is hard not to consider the context of COVID-19 and the resultant crisis which began to impact all of Canada in the final weeks of our fiscal year. Our members and our association have been dramatically affected. We are all struggling with difficult decisions and finding ways to do business differently – and in some cases better. Nevertheless, the impacts are profound and the future continues to be uncertain. Fortunately, ACEC has positioned itself well over the past few years to be able to adapt to these extraordinary circumstances.
ACEC had a strong 2019-2020 – both in terms of its advocacy and its financial position. Prudent decisions and sharpened focus allowed ACEC to remain committed to its mission of creating a business and regulatory climate that will allow our members to be successful and offer a high level of quality and value to their clients. No other profession or industry is more important to our social, economic and environmental quality of life. Perhaps this is even more true than ever.
Facing and overcoming past challenges led the ACEC Board of Directors to recognize that associations are needed the most during times of adversity. This resulted in a more focussed strategic plan emphasizing advocacy, image and value to members. To implement the strategic plan, ACEC ran a succession of carefully planned deficits – with a return to a balanced budget in 2019. This plan, augmented by healthy reserves, prudent management of resources and diversification of revenue, proved successful. ACEC began 2019 with a balanced budget, still-healthy reserves and a projected surplus for the coming year. Furthermore, operationally ACEC was more focussed and efficient than ever.
The past year has clearly demonstrated that ACEC is strongly committed to providing value to its members and ensuring continuous improvement. This is reflected in a renewed strategic plan that has guided ACEC activities over the past year. Building upon the previous strategic plan, the new strategic plan continues to emphasize Advocating for Members, Profile Building and Providing Value to Members as its priorities. In addition, the board has also adopted and embraced Increasing Diversity as a new strategic priority.
I believe that our national influence and profile has never been higher. Leading up to and throughout the 2019 federal election our political advocacy and outreach established our reputation as an important and influential voice for Canada’s consulting engineering sector in the eyes of the new federal government and other national stakeholders. ACEC has been one of the most effective voices in support of long-term infrastructure investment, as demonstrated by our very successful Infrastructure the Right Way campaign and our election website, www.investinfrastructure.ca. ACEC is continuing to post analyses of party platform announcements relating to infrastructure and issues of importance to the consulting engineering sector. ACEC continues to be at the table with key stakeholders as an unapologetic advocate for public policy that supports our industry and recognizes the critical contributions that ACEC members make to the social, economic and environmental quality of life of Canadians.
The Year in Review section of this report offers an overview of the many programs and activities undertaken by the association.
Over the course of 2019-2020, ACEC Chair Michael Snow and I had the opportunity to travel across the country, meeting with many of our volunteers and with the Member Organizations that represent our industry at the provincial and territorial level. The Member Organizations across the country are key to our successes across the country. Not only are they effectively advocating at the provincial, territorial and municipal levels of government they are especially effective at engaging with our members and stakeholders at the local level.
As part of our annual tour Michael and I have sought out more frequent and varied opportunities to participate in activities that engage a broader cross-section of the membership. This has allowed ACEC to support Member Organizations in their advocacy, image building, and member recruitment/retention activities. This current year will of course present challenges for member engagement, however our current Chair Lawrence Lukey and I are seeking innovative ways to engage with members and stakeholders. And again, we are seeing great innovation and resolve by the Member Organizations.
The past year’s successes would also not have been possible without the hard work of ACEC volunteers and staff. Volunteers, led by our Board, freely offer advice and expertise through participation on ACEC committees and task forces. We recognize many of ACEC’s volunteers in this report.
ACEC is supported by a diverse and talented staff in Ottawa. I want to thank Martine Proulx, Martin Savard, Julie Jacquard, Christina Locmelis and newcomers Jacky Ehombe and Michael Courtright for their hard work, creativity and commitment to the association. I want to congratulate the ACEC communications team for winning national and international awards for its #20DaysOfExcellence social media campaign promoting the winners of the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards and to the important impact our members’ projects have on our communities and on our economy. And I would like to offer a special thank you to Jean-Marc Carrière who retired after over 20 years of service to ACEC!
In closing, I wish to thank past-chair Michael Snow and the 2018-2019 Board of Directors as well as current chair Lawrence Lukey and our 2019-2020 Board for their support and strategic leadership. Always moving forward, they hold the association and themselves to a high standard of professionalism and accountability. Their leadership has left the association in a strong position as we face the profound and unprecedented challenges facing our association, our industry and our country.
John D. Gamble, CET, P.Eng.
President and Chief Executive Officer