Quebec licensing body hopes to heal engineering firms’ reputations
In an effort to mend relationships between consulting engineering firms and their clients, the Quebec licensing body for engineers has launched a new regime to audit companies' business practices.
In an effort to mend relationships between consulting engineering firms and their clients, the Quebec licensing body for engineers has launched a new regime to audit companies’ business practices.
The reputation and prestige of engineering companies in Quebec has been battered lately after several companies have been implicated in illegal activities. Many of the allegations of bid-rigging, etc. surfaced in the Charbonneau Commission of Inquiry, but there have also been actual arrests made by the RCMP.
On May 28, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ) announced that in the next few weeks it will establish an audit program by which engineering firms will agree to abide by certain rules and standards of practice and will agree to undergo audits by OIQ.
OIQ president Daniel Lebel, ing. announced the new program at a meeting attended by senior managers from consulting engineering firms.
“The mission of the OIQ is to protect the public interest and to guarantee professionalism among its members,” said Lebel. “We will use our resources in every possible way to ensure that our members, and the firms that employ them, adopt professional practices and conduct that will set a good example and once again render them worthy of public trust.”
The program is voluntary, but OIQ says, “compliance with the initiative could be a significant factor in the rehabilitation of these firms with those who provide them with work.” It also suggested that complying with the program might enable companies to once again be entitled to be considered in calls for public tenders.
Beginning in a few weeks, the new program will be introduced in three phases. First OIQ will review and develop higher ethical standards in professional and business practices. The association will then review firms’ individual codes of ethics.
Second the OIQ will conduct audits of firms. These audits will include examining what a company’s business development practices are, including their practices for obtaining contracts, for lobbying, and for bidding on tenders.
Third, the OIQ will be upgrading its professional training courses to put “ethics first and foremost.” These efforts will include a series of working lunches in Montreal and Quebec City with prominent guest speakers.
Lebel said, “We have to learn from what’s happening now, so that a situation like this does not occur again. If we act now, we can make sure it never will. The OIQ will make sure, starting today. And that’s a promise.”
Meanwhile, the Association of Consulting Engineers of Quebec (AICQ) is holding its annual meeting next week, on June 11. AICQ president and director general Johanne Desrochers has said the meeting will “mark a turning point in the crisis we are experiencing” and that it will be looking at how consulting engineering will evolve in the next years.