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Year in review – what we’ve accomplished in 2018  

 

ACEC’s team is proud of the important work it has accomplished over the past year on behalf of you, our members, in achieving these priorities.

The core activities we undertake over the course of a year are guided by our three strategic priorities - Advocacy, Profile, and Member Engagement. ACEC’s team is proud of the important work it has accomplished over the past year on behalf of you, our members, in achieving these priorities. Here’s a snapshot of what we achieved in 2018.

 

ADVOCACY

ACEC worked diligently for a more favorable public policy and business climate for consulting engineering companies in all sectors and by extension for all Canadians. We did this by influencing the federal government and collaborating with national stakeholders on a host of issues to help make Canada competitive and prosperous.

 

TIMELY INFRASTRUCURE INVESTMENTS & FREE TRADE

(John Gamble, ACEC-Canada President & CEO met with the Honourable Perrin Beatty, President & CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to discuss NAFTA and ACEC’s support of, and participation in, the Coalition to Keep Trade Free in Summer 2018.)

Infrastructure investment delays and how to address them was the primary message ACEC President & CEO John Gamble carried to Parliament Hill when meeting with Parliamentarians. In the spring, Mr. Gamble testified to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on the importance of sustained financial commitments, the government’s infrastructure plans, and outlined a series of recommendations that would improve its implementation. It was the message he also delivered to the Minister of Infrastructure and his senior policy advisors during face to face meetings in the late winter and early spring. This message was also a core piece of ACEC’s submission to the Finance committee in our pre-budget submission in August.

We also shared our knowledge and expertise of infrastructure development with the President and CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank Pierre Lavallée during an introductory meeting in July. ACEC further strengthened its relationship with the Bank when its Chair of the Board, Janice Fukakusa, shared her vision for the Bank during a fire side chat at our October national leadership conference. The year ahead will be an opportunity to strengthen this new relationship to ensure the interests of the consulting engineering sector, and all Canadians, are top-of-mind as the Bank identifies investors and projects that it will finance.

ACEC continued to collaborate with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) on ensuring the government is aware of the need for Canada to remain competitive on the world stage. John Gamble shared his concern with the uncertainty around Canada’s extensive regulatory burden and the potential impact of Bill C69 that could discourage investment in our natural resource sector. ACEC also joined the Chamber led Coalition to Keep Trade Free, formed over the summer during the NAFTA renegotiations to address the ongoing trade uncertainties. The Honourable Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the CCC, provided a thought-provoking opening keynote address at the ACEC national leadership conference on Canada’s competitiveness on the world stage. With the federal election expected next fall, we will continue to collaborate with the Chamber on trade and issues that impact the delivery of major resource projects to ensure candidates from all parties understand the need for Canada to remain competitive and open for business to drive the Canadian economy and ensure prosperity for all Canadians.

(Janice Fukakusa, Chair of the Board of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, sharing her vision for the Bank at the ACEC national leadership conference in October.)

 

MOVING THE YARDSTICK ON QUALIFICATIONS BASED SELECTION (QBS)

After years of advocacy by ACEC and the Provincial /Territorial Associations for QBS when procuring consulting engineering services, our efforts resulted in a breakthrough. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) announced that it would launch a Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) pilot project following consultation with industry. ACEC, along with the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC), worked with PSPC for several months to familiarize key leaders within the federal government on the many benefits of QBS. In July, the department issued the two RFPs for its QBS pilot. In recognition of its leadership within the federal government and openness to QBS, the PSPC team, led by Assistant Deputy Minister of Procurement, Arianne Reza, was awarded the 2018 Chair’s Award at the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards.

In other QBS related news, Mr. Gamble was invited to testify to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) on government procurement practices. His message - that QBS and focus on long-term value are key to modernizing federal procurement - was well received by the Committee and was featured in the House of Commons Report on Procurement.

ACEC also joined with Consulting Engineers of Alberta in helping finance a national study by the University of Alberta that will quantify the benefits of QBS using a database that once completed will be accessible to all levels of government. We believe the results of this work will encourage more jurisdictions to follow PSPC’s lead in adopting QBS. It will also help support converting current QBS pilot projects into long term procurement policy for clients.

The past year produced positive results for the advancement of QBS. ACEC and Provincial /Territorial Associations will continue our collective advocacy efforts to ensure the momentum experienced in the past year continues in 2019.

(Todd Smith, P.Eng., (center) past Chair of the ACEC-Canada Board of Directors presenting the 2018 Chair’s Award to PSPC at the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards gala in October. Arianne Reza, Assistant Deputy Minister, Procurement, and Michael Mills, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property Services accepted the award on behalf of PSPC.)

 

RESPONSIBLE RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

Our message to Canadians and Members of Parliament on resource development was twofold. First, accessing Canada’s natural resources and transporting them to market would create enormous economic opportunity. Secondly, consulting engineers can help the resource sector be economically viable as well as socially and environmentally responsible. ACEC believes that the creation of a national infrastructure corridor – essentially a network of rights-of-way for nation building infrastructure - would make it easier and more economically viable to move resources to market, would connect northern and remote communities to vital economic and quality-of-life-enhancing infrastructure such as power, communications, road and rail. It would also reduce the environmental footprint and provide a positive framework for industry and First Nations to collaborate on the development of major projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline. Although a lofty goal, ACEC believes this nation building project merits continued promotion to elected officials and senior government officials in the year to come.

 

ENSURING CONSISTENCY AND INDUSTRY CREDIBILITY

Increasingly large-scale scale and complex projects with large interdisciplinary teams have created varying and sometimes inconsistent interpretations of conflict of interest or unfair advantage by clients and their procuring agencies. To help our members better manage and mitigate these situations, ACEC’s Board of Directors adopted a national guideline that addresses conflict of interest and unfair advantage in a national context as well as concerns arising from recent interprovincial and international trade agreements. The document is now available on the ACEC website.

This past year ACEC also joined a group of stakeholders to support an independent study of the real and/or perceived causes and impacts of the quality of design on construction documents. The study, undertaken by the Ryerson Institute for Infrastructure Innovation, will reflect a pan-Canadian scope and stakeholder comments. ACEC will continue to offer support and input to the advisory committee and receive updates and reports on key decisions and milestones. The final report is expected to be published sometime in 2019.

 

THE CULMINATION OF OUR EFFORTS

ACEC’S yearlong advocacy efforts culminated at our annual Parliament Hill Day, which took place on October 23rd during the ACEC national leadership conference. It provided the opportunity for nearly 70 representatives from ACEC member firms to meet face-to-face with Members of Parliament to discuss these issues. The association’s most successful government relations event and the cornerstone of our national advocacy program, this year’s Parliament Hill Day was a great success, leading to requests for additional meetings by MPs with our members and our association.

 

PROFILE

Consulting engineers have an important story to share about how their contributions to society generate economic wealth, create safe and sustainable communities, and help protect the environment. Since these contributions are rarely recognized by the public, increasing the stature and influence of our member firms by showcasing the impact of their contributions to Canada’s social, economic and environmental quality of life is a yearlong endeavor for the ACEC team.

(John Gamble, ACEC-Canada President & CEO and the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities discuss the impact of infrastructure on society at the ACEC national leadership conference in October.)

 

ENHANCING THE INDUSTRY’S PROFILE

To further enhance the profile of our industry among elected officials and national decision makers, ACEC introduced a new initiative this year that allowed not only enhances our industry’s profile to elected officials, it provides a first-hand understanding of the government’s long-term vision on the issues and challenges that touch our sector. In Discussion with ACEC is a series of in-depth interviews between ACEC President and CEO John Gamble and various Ministers, including the Honourable Jim Carr and the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, that enabled us to delve into the government’s policies and programs while ensuring the priorities of our industry remain top of mind. These discussions were featured in Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine, the ACEC website and ACEC’s Source newsletters.

 

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, 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 #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 Chris Newcomb, P.Eng. a Past Chair at ACEC and Chair of the Board of McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.

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 MCW Consultants Ltd.’s, Graham Lovely, P.Eng., was selected.

 

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 2018 included providing keynote speeches, participating interactive panel discussions and participating in career fairs and other networking events at annual CFES events. ACEC also held its annual Student Photo contest once again with their support, although this year the contest was moved to March to coincide with National Engineering Month to increase awareness and participation.

 

SHOWCASING PROJECTS AND VISIBILITY OF OUR MEMBER FIRMS

Now entering its second year, our Bring an MP to Work program has generated great success and continues to evolve. By providing members with the ability to showcase their projects to MPs, and raise the visibility of their firms, they are highlighting to elected officials the contributions their teams and our industry make to the economy as well as to the social and environmental quality of life in their community. Bring an MP to Work also provides a great platform for our members to become more engaged with the elected officials who have an influence on the issues affecting our sector. Further details on how we engaged with our members over the past year is provided in the section below.

 

MEMBER ENGAGEMENT

Providing opportunities for meaningful engagement that supports your firm’s business needs is critical to our success as a national business association. This year, we made great strides in our efforts to increase the value proposition for our member firms by creating opportunities to develop, participate, and utilize programs and services to support these needs.

 

ENGAGING INDUSTRY LEADERS

New in 2018, the 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 20 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. Based on the success of this inaugural event, the forum will again be taking place this June.

 

ENGAGING MEMBERS – CREATING OPPORTUNITIES

The ACEC national leadership conference is the only opportunities 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 Ministers, industry 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 2019 conference, which will take place October 27th to 29th in Ottawa.

Professional development through live webinars was a great success again this year. Following the success of our first series of webinars, a second one was launched aimed at helping managers and young professionals develop the skills required for a successful career in the consulting engineer industry. In light of the popularity of this interactive and affordable offering, ACEC will host the original series again in 2019.

Our communication 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. Social media campaigns such as the #20DaysofExcellence and the ACEC Engineering Student Photo contest, also took place on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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 Todd Smith 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 2019

Although early in the New Year, ACEC is gearing up for another busy 12 months ahead. The team is working on exciting projects for 2019 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!