Canadian Consulting Engineer

Quebec engineers have a new service organization

The Ordre des Ingenieurs du Quebec (OIQ) has decided to splinter off a separate organization to offer services for...

May 8, 2001   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Ordre des Ingenieurs du Quebec (OIQ) has decided to splinter off a separate organization to offer services for its members. As the licensing body, the OIQ’s mandate is to govern the profession’s standards and protect the public. However, that role as guardian and disciplinarian sometimes appears to be a conflict of interest with its role as a representative of engineers. For example, it is difficult to set up programs that benefit engineers financially or lobby on the engineers’ behalf, while at the same time appearing to act in the public’s interests.
In April the Order therefore announced it had decided engineers in the province need a vehicle that is independent of the OIQ. They need this, “if only for the sake of applying their collective strength, which is not inconsiderable, to acquiring group benefits.”
Accordingly it has decided to set up the Corporation des services des ingenieurs du Quebec, which will offer programs like an investment services and insurance. OIQ members have to apply to be registered with the corporation, but there is no extra fee. The first annual meeting will be held on May 30 at which the OIQ will elect an administrative committee.
Last year the OIQ’s sister organization in Ontario, Professional Engineers Ontario, also set up an independent organization to look after its members’ interests. The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers is an advocacy body as well as a service body, and thus intends to promote and lobby for engineering and engineers in a broad sense.
However, in an article in the OIQ’s magazine, PLAN, in April, Zaki Ghavitian, ing., vice-president of corporate affairs at OIQ, was clear that the OIQ’s offshoot will be different to that of PEO. He wrote: “What we don’t want is an advocacy body such as that in Ontario. Because too many pressure groups with divergent goals are only likely to confront each other, we prefer not to promote this approach. The idea of a service corporation is unifying; that of an advocacy body, divisive. Interest groups should promote their ideas outside the OIQ and the corporation, hopefully without tarnishing the image of the profession.”
The OIQ has a considerable financial surplus and is currently deciding what it should do with this money. In the last fiscal year it had $4.8 million in its cash coffers. The question the order is facing is whether it should continue to hold on to a large reserve as a contingency plan or should more money be put into programs. So far, it has said any idea that members have a fees rebate is “taboo.”


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