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Year in review – what we’ve accomplished in 2019  

 

Our team is proud of the important work we have accomplished over the past year on behalf of you, our members. Here’s a snapshot of what we achieved in 2019.

 

The Federal Election

The federal election made for a hectic six months as our team worked to ensure the voice of consulting engineering was heard by the major parties and the hundreds of candidates who ran for office.

To achieve this, we created Infrastructure the Right Way, a comprehensive election plan with two clear concise priorities.

Our first priority focused on infrastructure spending and had a clear message: funding must be accelerated, because we know from speaking to our member firms in many parts of the country that expected dollars committed under the Investing in Canada and Building Canada programs are not always hitting the streets in a timely manner. And infrastructure spending needs to be predictable and sustained because program gaps make it difficult for our industry and our clients and partners to effectively deliver on the projects that improve our communities and drive our economy.

Our second priority touched on the need for a national infrastructure corridor. What is a national infrastructure corridor? It’s a series of pre-established right of ways that would connect all regions of Canada. Imagine a geographical “footprint” from coast to coast to coast with all environmental assessments and other regulatory requirements needed to build infrastructure such as rail, telecommunications, pipelines, on in that footprint completed. A national corridor would allow proponents to launch major projects with certainty. It would address social and environmental concerns, allow progress and economic growth, and encourage sustainable resource development.

To put our priorities front and center in the minds of all the candidates, we created an election focused website – InvestInfrastructure.ca – to showcase our election priorities and recommendations. The site also provided our analysis of the election platforms from the major parties, with an eye to how they were proposing to addressing infrastructure if elected. The site also allowed visitors to communicate directly with the candidates in their riding by sending an electronic letter to each calling on their support for infrastructure investment done the right way. 

 

Social media was another vehicle used to get the message out to our stakeholders. Our Twitter and LinkedIn posts promoted our election priorities, provided social media shareables, and kept our followers up to date on the announcements made by the parties throughout the campaign period.

The pre-election timeframe proved to be as important as the election period itself. For this reason, the tactics of our Infrastructure the Right Way election plan were put in place well before the writ dropped in September. Our goal was to ensure the voice of our industry was heard by the party platform committees as well as the candidates from the various major parties before the election. In May, we shared our key messages and policy “asks” with the platform committees of the major parties. Questionnaires were also issued to the party leaders seeking their input on matters related to infrastructure investment and support of the natural resource sector. In June, we met with senior bureaucrats and Members of Parliament, including the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, to deliver our message directly to sitting candidates prior to the House rising for the summer. Throughout the summer and during the election period, we promoted our letter writing campaign and shared party platform analysis and questionnaire responses on the Invest Infrastructure website.

(L-R: ACEC President & CEO John Gamble, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne former Minister of Infrastructure & Communities, Past ACEC Chair Mike Snow, & ACEC Vice President Martine Proulx.)

With the election behind us, ACEC-Canada is working on transforming our election plan into a post-election strategy to ensure our key messages continue to be heard by returning and newly elected Members of Parliament. A digital strategy that will include an infographic video, op-eds, an update to the InvestInfrastructure.ca site and a revised grassroots letter campaign are under development. A lunch and learn session for Members of Parliament will be organized to continue our efforts to educate elected officials on the importance of infrastructure investment. A national infrastructure corridor roundtable will be organized to bring together relevant stakeholder organizations – like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, First Nation Major Projects Coalition – to align on this nation building idea and amplify our voice.

 

Ensuring Resource Development Moves Forward

Over the course of 2019, we continued to speak out on behalf of our members and clients in the resource sector. In April, John Gamble, ACEC-Canada President and CEO, and Christy Cunningham, Executive Director of ACEC-NB, testified before the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources on Bill-C69, the Impact Assessment Act.

(Bottom L-R: ACEC-NB Executive Director Christy Cunningham and ACEC-Canada President and CEO John Gamble pictured with Top L-R: Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick CEO Thomas Raffy, Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce CEO David Duplisea, and CEO of Atlantic Chamber of Commerce Sheri Somerville, BBA, BPR, SCMP.)

In their testimony, Ms. Cunningham and Mr. Gamble applauded the government’s review of the regulatory system because improved consultation, transparency and clarity in the environmental assessment process is needed to make Canada an attractive market for private investors. However, in their testimony, they also expressed our industry’s concern with the lack of clarity with Bill C-69 as originally drafted and its potential contribution to the ‘cumulative impact’ of regulation on investment in projects in Canada. ACEC-Canada and ACEC-NB made several recommendations, including the need to address major concerns in the Act itself rather than through regulations that would follow to ensure a robust, efficient, effective and transparent process. The Senate proposed close to 200 industry friendly amendments to the Bill, including limitation to politicians’ ability to make final decisions on project reviews, a tightening of the timelines for the review process. The Bill was passed with 62 of the Senate proposed amendments while 37 were altered by Cabinet before being put to the House for a vote. While ACEC supports sound regulations, we continue to be concerned that lack of clarity around scope and timing will be an issue. For this reason, we will encourage the government in the coming months to hold workshops with industry stakeholders so that regulations can be crafted that clearly define each of the proposed “impact factors” in the Bill and provide clear guidance to proponents on addressing each factor.

 

Moving the Yardstick on Qualification-Based Selection (QBS)

ACEC-Canada continued again this past year to actively promote the use of Qualification-Based Selection to private and public-sector clients as the procurement method of choice for consulting services. To support these efforts, we are helping finance a national QBS study by the University of Alberta that will capture important data that will quantify the benefits of QBS. As a result of ongoing QBS lobbying by ACEC-Canada and other partners, Public Services and Procurement Canada (formerly PWGSC) launched a pilot using true Qualifications-Based Selection. To date, four major projects have been launched using QBS as the procurement method. We encourage member firms who work with the federal government to consider submitting a proposal for these projects to support the pilot and the forward movement of QBS as the procurement method of choice by the federal government.

 

Showcasing the Impact of Consulting Engineers

The highlight of ACEC’s effort to showcase the industry is the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards, co-presented with Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine. The CCE Awards are recognized as the industry's highest honours, offered only to the most remarkable engineering feats featured in projects by Canadian firms. Twenty projects in various categories were honoured with Awards of Excellence; of these, five were selected for additional recognition with Special Achievement Awards, including the prestigious Schreyer Award.

Our award winners were featured in our award winning #20DaysofExcellence campaign, which featured each winning project on social media on a different day throughout the month of November.

The Beaubien Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to ACEC and to the advancement of consulting engineering, was also presented that evening. This year’s recipient was François Plourde, P.Eng. President & CEO of CIMA+ and a former Director on the ACEC Board.

ACEC also oversees the process for awarding the prestigious Allen D. Williams Scholarship to a young professional within a member firm. This scholarship is awarded annually to those who demonstrate a commitment to the consulting engineering industry. This year Nicholas Kaminski, P.Eng., M.Eng., PMP, of KGS Group was selected.

 

Recognition for our #20DaysofExcellence Campaign

ACEC-Canada’s #20DaysOfExcellence campaign was recognized for excellence with two separate awards this year. At the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) annual conference and awards gala, our Communication team took home an MA Award for the “Best advancement of a cause, advocacy campaign or event”. The team was also recognized by the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) with an Award of Excellence in the “Deliver Value to Member and Stakeholder Segments” category.

 

Making Consulting Engineering a Career of Choice

ACEC’s ongoing partnership with the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES) provides ACEC the opportunity to introduce engineering students to consulting engineering as a rewarding career that makes a meaningful difference. Our active student outreach program in 2019 included providing keynote speeches, participating interactive panel discussions and participating in career fairs and other networking events at annual CFES events.

 

Engaging Industry Leaders

The second annual ACEC Executive Forum brought together senior executives representing the leadership of Canada’s consulting engineering sector to discuss trends, strategies, emerging best practices and new approaches to the big issues we face organizationally and as a sector. Over 30 C-suite representatives of ACEC member firms came together as peers for open discussions on the consulting engineering sector today and their vision for its future.

 

Engaging Members – Creating Opportunities

The ACEC national leadership conference is the only opportunity for members to come together from across the country to learn of the latest industry trends, challenges and opportunities, and to network with peers and national decision makers. This year’s business program featured an impressive line-up of industry leaders, stakeholder experts, thought leaders and media pundits who shared and interacted with the delegates on a host of issues. Make sure to save the dates in your calendar for the 2020 conference, which will take place October 25th to 27th in Ottawa.

To support the development of rising stars in our industry, ACEC-Canada launched a new professional development activity this fall – our first ever ACEC Young Professionals Forum took place on October 26 & 27. The forum permitted participants to hone their skills through professional development and networking opportunities targeted specifically to young professionals in the consulting engineering sector. The program, developed by ACEC-Canada staff and members of the ACEC Young Professionals Network (YPN), challenged them to think critically and apply their creativity and communication skills to a variety of activities. Stay tuned to Source for details about the next ACEC Young Professionals Forum, which will take place October 24th and 25th, 2020.

Our communications strategy to build the profile of the association and to engage with members, stakeholders, government and engineering students was executed using various vehicles. Our Source newsletter audience continues to grow and our social media reach continues to expand with the addition of an ACEC-Canada LinkedIn page.

We also leveraged events by the Provincial/Territorial Associations to provide our Board the opportunity to engage directly with member firms, regional stakeholders and provincial and municipal government officials. John Gamble and our Chair Michael Snow criss-crossed the country to take part in a variety of events in each province to better understand the regional challenges faced by our member firms. We pride ourselves on working collaboratively with the Provincial /Territorial Associations to deliver products and services to our members and look forward to our continued partnership.

 

The Year Ahead – Looking Forward to a New Decade

The ACEC team is gearing up for another busy 12 months ahead. The team is working on exciting projects for 2020 that will further support our strategic priorities. Stay tuned for our Source newsletter and for details on what to expect from your national association in the year ahead!