february 2000




ACEC lobbying results in federal commitment to Infrastructure

Good news travels fast in our industry so you are no doubt aware of the 6-year $3.65 billion commitment of the federal government to infrastructure in the February 28th Budget brought down by Finance Minister Paul Martin. You may be less familiar with the specifics, which are listed below for your information. The summary does not address the corporate tax reduction for small business nor any personal tax matters that may affect individual readers.

A total of $3.65 billion has been committed by the federal government to repair and develop Canada's infrastructure over the next six years. Specifically,


  • $100 for municipal infrastructure and highways
  • $200 federal only to rehabilitate federal bridges, wharves and laboratories


  • $350 million for municipal and highways
  • $200 million for federal bridges etc.


  • $550 million for municipal and highways
  • $200 million for federal bridges etc.


  • $550 million for municipal and highways
  • $200 million for federal bridges etc.


  • $550 million for municipal and highways
  • $200 million for federal bridges etc.


  • $550 million for municipal and highways

In the years when the federal government is investing $550 million, $400 is intended for municipal infrastructure and $150 million for highways. The Budget identifies "housing" as a matter to be included under the definition of municipal infrastructure.


The Budget announced $25 million (looks like they are budgeting for this out of their 1999-2000 budget surplus) to help municipalities and communities determine the feasibility of and best approaches to renewable energy, building retrofit, water conservation, waste management and urban transit projects.

The Budget also announced the creation of a $100 million revolving fund called the Green Municipal Investment Fund to support projects in areas such as energy and water savings, urban transit and waste diversion. Loans from the fund will be repaid and then recycled to support new projects. For certain projects, every dollar form the fund will be matched by about $10 from the private sector.

$700 million over 4 years starting in 1999-2000 will go to stimulate new technology to meet climate change challenges. These monies will be targeted mostly at research and university bodies.

Also established for 2000-2001 is a Sustainable Development Technology Fund at an initial level of $100 million to stimulate the development and demonstration of new environmental technologies-particularly those aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions-such as fuel cells, wind turbines and advanced materials. Project funding will be open to the private sector, research centres and other institutes.

The Budget also provides $100 million over 4 years ($35 million of which is committed probably from the 1999-2000 fiscal year surplus) to CIDA for technology transfer and related initiative to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable development.

Congratulations to all member firms who participated in ACEC's year-long lobbying effort. It worked. Given the number of priorities that the federal government has been presented with by umpteen special interest groups, your accomplishment is all the more significant.


Consulting Engineers Poised for a Good Year

If the survey results from ACEC's 1999 Business Survey of Members are an indication, 2000 should be a very good year for many in the industry. In total, 57% rated the general business climate in Canada today as very good (11%) or good (46%) compared to 42% at this time last year.

When asked to translate their perception of the health of the economy into their own financial performance over the past year well over half described their performance as very good (21%) or good (43%) which is a 9% increase from last year.

This general optimism in the industry is reflected by a 5% increase (53% versus 48%) in the number of respondents who expect to be increasing the size of their staff in 2000. Larger firms are more likely to hire new engineers in the coming year, at a rate of 92% compared to 31% of medium and 54% of small firms.

Market buoyancy is also reflected by member concerns over the lack of available skilled labour. Almost two out of every three respondents identified this as a problem. When asked to list the skills needed by their company, members provided a wide range of disciplines. Topping the list were electrical engineers, design engineers and CAD operators.

The survey also confirmed that while most members have lots of work, the average contract size is small, industry margins remain very tight and not all parts of the country are benefiting equally.

Members reported that 25% of all contracts were for $5,000 or less and a further 27% were for dollar values of less than $25,000. When asked to provide their normal salary multiplier for work, the mean score for design services was 2.45.

Two-thirds of ACEC member firms also identified succession as a major issue within the industry with over 50% mentioning market instability and anticipated low return on investment for potential new partners as principal reasons for the succession problem.

A summary version of the 1999 Survey will be available to ACEC members through the ACEC E-
Shoppe as a free document, while non-members can obtain a copy from the National Office at a cost of $69.95+GST.

ACEC Program to attract young Canadians to engineering

ACEC, in partnership with Human Resources Development Canada, has launched the first stage of an important industry-led national initiative to promote the study and practice of engineering in Canada targeted at young Canadians.

In making the announcement during National Engineering Week, ACEC President Tim Page said: "We will be encouraging young Canadians across Canada to pursue the mysteries of science through the study and practice of engineering. Engineering tackles the improbable and creates workable solutions."

The campaign will rely extensively on industry volunteers and will focus on two separate initiatives: encouraging high-school students to study engineering at university and, developing career awareness materials for engineering graduates based on the academic skills they have acquired in their post-secondary school studies.

"Engineering provides challenging and rewarding career opportunities for young Canadians who want to make a difference in life," added Page.

"Engineering is all around us and has made a significant contribution to our national standard of living and quality of life. Engineering has been a cornerstone around which this country has been built and will continue to play a key role in resolving many of the social, economic and environmental challenges facing Canada as we begin the 21st Century."

The February 28th federal Budget commitment of a six-year $3.65 billion national infrastructure program provides immediate opportunities for young engineers as member firms prepare for the upcoming work.
By helping young Canadians, ACEC's program will also respond directly to the concerns of member firms, the majority of whom, in ACEC's 1999 National Business Survey of Members, identified the absence of skilled labour as a key issue for the industry today and for years to come.

Page added that, "through this project, we intend to stimulate creative and inquisitive minds and provide a meaningful career path in engineering for young Canadians to follow."

National Engineering Week begins with a Trade

National Engineering Week 2000 was launched in Ottawa yesterday under the theme of «Engineering: Anything's Possible». The event was conducted in the company of 130 students from across Canada, each of whom received engineering "trading cards" depicting five engineering accomplishments and designed to get young Canadians thinking about everything engineering has to offer.

The cards feature a jet aircraft engine designed by Pratt and Whitney Canada, a myoelectric hand built by engineers from the University of New Brunswick, an integrated circuit used in fibre optics created by Nortel Networks, a CD disc fabricated at Cinram's Toronto plant and the latest generation of hockey helmet made by CCM.

ACEC has a limited number of these card sets. If you are interested in receiving one for your own information, give us a shout at the National Office. National Engineering Week is organized across the country by professional and business engineering associations and ACEC sits on the national organizing committee.

ACEC in alliance with CSCE on Continuing Education

Thanks to a recent alliance with the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, ACEC is able to offer member firms registration in CSCE seminars at CSCE member rates. Participation in CSCE courses provides registrants with both professional development hours and with continuing education units. CSCE courses are intended to be solutions-oriented and interactive and the upcoming courses below provide a good example of the range of industry and professional interests they should appeal to.

To benefit from the CSCE prices you must be a member in good standing with ACEC and you must clearly indicate on your registration form that you are from a member firm of ACEC. Details and registration forms for the courses listed below are accessible through the CSCE Website at www.csce.ca.

Upcoming CSCE seminars:

  • "Trouble Shooting Concrete Problems" (St. John's, NL April 6 and Quebec City, QC May 26);
  • "Building Durability into Concrete Structures: What they Didn't Teach you in University" (Toronto, ON April 7, Regina, SK April 27, Edmonton, AB April 28, Ottawa, ON May 1, Moncton, NB May 3);
  • "Restoration and Conservation of Heritage Structures" (St. John's, NL April 14);
  • "Fibre Reinforced and Other Modern Concrete Methods" (London, April14);
  • "Waste Management Problem Solving" (Edmonton, April 14);
  • "Licencing and Protecting Intellectual Property" (Toronto, ON first week of June).

Other courses are scheduled later in the year and will be reported in subsequent issues of Communiqué.


New Staff member at ACEC

Earlier this month, Ms. Kerrie Reid joined the staff at the National Office as our new Events Co-ordinator and Meeting Planner. Kerrie has been most recently employed by the Canadian Red Cross, wants to pursue a Masters degree in Project Management and has hit the ground running in helping to organize the ACEC National Convention program for May 13-16 in Niagara Falls, ON.

Early-bird deadline for National Convention approaching

Speaking of the 2000 ACEC National Convention, be sure to send in your registration before March 15th to take advantage of the early-bird discount of $125 per delegate off the regular price of $575. Convention packages were mailed earlier this week, following an email notice that links members to a downloadable version of the registration kit that was sent to you on February 25th.

This event is unique. It is part of the first-ever concurrent Canada / US / Ontario Conventions, straddling the Canada-US border at Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Delegates from both countries are encouraged to participate in each other's programs. Events include business sessions on cross-border business, hedging against liability and outperforming your competition, in addition to tours and special activities that take full advantage of the Niagara region's many attractions.

2000 Consulting Engineering Awards

Send in your «Notice of Intention» now to submit a project to the 2000 Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards. This year's program has been improved, whereby project categories have been re-jigged to better reflect the nature of the projects submitted in recent years. This past year all firms who submitted projects to the awards were offered the opportunity of having their project profiled on a CD-ROM multimedia presentation which has now be reformatted and is being sent to Canadian embassies around the world.

Visit the ACEC web site and click on the «Awards» button to download a «Notice of Intention» in PDF, or contact Bronwen Ledger at CCE magazine for a fax copy at 416-442-2266