Canadian Consulting Engineer

ACEC Review

February 1, 2013
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

ACEC Focuses on the Future

ACEC Focuses on the Future

here is no question that the business of consulting engineering is changing. As consulting engineering firms adapt to the new realities of the business and regulatory climate in which we operate, there will be both risks and opportunities.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada (ACEC) will also need to evolve if it is to be an effective voice for the industry and deliver value to its members. This is why ACEC has thoroughly reviewed its governance and strategic priorities.

Last year ACEC adopted a governance model that will focus the association on the future. In addition to its fiduciary responsibilities, the ACEC Board of Directors now spends more time addressing the major issues and trends facing our industry in the years ahead.

This forward-thinking approach is also reflected in ACEC’s new strategic plan for the period 2013-2016. For example, building upon its success as an industry advocate with the federal government, ACEC will be committing more time and resources to engaging with our clients in the private sector. Not only is this important to firms active in areas such as buildings, industry, energy and resources, it also recognizes that our client base is changing across the board. With changing project delivery models, even traditional public sector owners are delivering more projects through private sector organizations. And as we broaden our interaction and advocacy into multiple client sectors in addition to our strong government relations program, we will also be creating more opportunities for member participation.

At the end of the day, if ACEC is to continue to be the recognized voice of the industry and help to make engineering firms more successful, we need to be relevant, proactive and agile. I believe our Board has the vision, our staff has the skills and our membership has the knowledge. This positions ACEC and our industry for continued success through 2013 and into the future.

Murray D. Thompson, P.Eng.
Chair, ACEC Board of Directors

L’AFIC se concentre sur l’avenir

l n’y a nul doute que l’industrie du génie-conseil change. À mesure que les firmes de génie-conseil s’adapteront aux nouvelles réalités de notre environnement et du climat réglementaire dans lequel nous évoluons, nous seront confrontés à certains risques mais nous bénéficierons aussi de nouveaux débouchés.

L’Association des firmes d’ingénieurs-conseils – Canada (AFIC) devra aussi évoluer pour demeurer une voix efficace pour l’industrie et pour procurer une valeur tangible à ses membres. C’est pourquoi l’AFIC a réalisé un examen complet de sa gouvernance et de ses priorités stratégiques.

L’an dernier, l’AFIC a adopté un modèle de gouvernance qui orientera l’association vers l’avenir. En plus de ses responsabilités fiduciaires, le conseil d’administration de l’AFIC consacre maintenant plus de temps à de grands enjeux et tendances de notre industrie dans les années à venir.

Cette approche anticipative est également reflété dans le nouveau plan stratégique de l’AFIC pour la période 2013-2016. Par exemple, tirant parti du succès de ses activités de lobbying auprès du gouvernement fédéral, l’AFIC accordera plus de temps et de ressources à nos initiatives de représentation auprès de nos clients du secteur privé. En plus d’être importante pour les firmes actives dans les domaines du bâtiment, de l’industrie, de l’énergie et des ressources, par exemple, cette initiative reconnaît aussi le fait que notre clientèle change et évolue. Avec l’émergence de nouveaux modèles de réalisation de projets, même les propriétaires du secteur public traditionnel réalisent de plus en plus de projets par le biais d’organisations qui appartiennent au secteur privé. En élargissant nos interactions et nos activités de représentation pour inclure des secteurs à clients multiples, en plus de notre programme de relations gouvernementales bien établi, nous créerons davantage de possibilités pour la participation de nos membres.

En bout de ligne, si l’AFIC doit continuer d’être reconnue comme le porte-parole de l’industrie et d’aider les firmes de génie-conseil à mieux réussir, elle doit demeurer pertinente et proactive en plus d’être agile. Pour atteindre nos objectifs, je considère que notre conseil d’administration possède la vision, que notre personnel possède les compétences et que nos firmes ont les connaissances requises, ce qui positionne l’AFIC et notre industrie pour un succès continu en 2013 et au-delà.

Murray D. Thompson, P.Eng.
Président du conseil d’administration de l’AFIC

2012 Highlights: What We Are Achieving for Our Members

CEC advocates for a business and regulatory climate that will allow its members to be successful and the consulting engineering sector to prosper. While ACEC’s Parliament Hill Day continues to be an enormous success and a clear illustration of ACEC’s credibility and influence on public policy, it is only part of a comprehensive government relations program. This past year was a banner year for ACEC’s advocacy on behalf of its members, highlighted by a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In 2012, ACEC saw progress on a number of issues important to ACEC and the consulting engineering sector.

Developing a Long-term Infrastructure Plan

ACEC and its provincial and territorial Member Organizations were prominent participants in the regional infrastructure roundtables organized by federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel. Representatives participated in St. John’s, Charlottetown, Québec City, Toronto, Edmonton, Regina and Kenora. ACEC was also invited as one of a select group of associations to participate in a national roundtable consultation in Ottawa.

ACEC again made a formal submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance during its annual pre-budget deliberations. ACEC again supported the government for its commitment to a long-term infrastructure plan for Canada. The submission recognized the current need to balance much needed investment with current fiscal realities and called for a coordinated, long-term approach to infrastructure investment.

Saving Firms Millions in Financial Guarantees

In response to pressure from ACEC and the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories (CCIL), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has shelved a proposal to require financial guarantees from all users of nuclear substances and radiation devices, including densometers. This postponement has allowed the industry to carry out a risk assessment to determine the risk to the Canadian taxpayer in the event of a licensee’s inability to safely terminate their licensed activities and dispose of their densometers. In this case, the CNSC would have to take control of the densometer(s) and arrange for safe disposal. The original proposal would have imposed a significant financial burden on ACEC firms in possession of licenced devices.

The risk assessment projected that the expected annual financial risk to the CNSC would be approximately $16,000 compared to $14 million, the sum of the financial guarantees originally proposed by the CNSC. The CNSC has accepted the findings and acknowledged that the propo
sed financial guarantees were a disproportional solution to its risk. The CNSC will work with the industry to explore more realistic alternatives.

Creating Opportunities for Firms to Participate in Foreign Aid

In November, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) committed to refocus our country’s foreign aid priorities, creating an environment where the private sector and NGOs can work side-by-side, leveraging their respective strengths and expertise.

ACEC has long advocated a return to an emphasis on community and economic infrastructure that helps create long-term self-reliance. Many of ACEC’s member firms have first-hand experience with the significant impact federal aid programs can have in alleviating poverty and increasing self-reliance in developing countries. These programs also have the potential to showcase Canadian expertise and provide business opportunities for Canada’s engineering sector. ACEC and its member companies across Canada welcome opportunities to work closely with the government and NGOs as CIDA refocuses its foreign aid priorities.

Fixing the New West Partnership Trade
Agreement (NWPTA)

ACEC and the consulting engineering sector are taking a leadership role in promoting interprovincial trade rules that will improve our industry’s ability to provide value to taxpayers and improve the quality of life of all Canadians.

ACEC and its Member Organizations are fully supportive of increasing the flow of goods, services, capital and people across borders in Canada. However, there are some very real challenges as a result of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) including pressure on public clients to treat professional engineering services as a commodity. Consequences potentially include reduced taxpayer value, i.e. higher construction, life cycle and procurement costs, risk to public health and safety, a weakened consulting industry and key expertise focused away from delivering public infrastructure.

Renewed efforts by ACEC’s Member Organizations to re-engage their provincial governments have put this issue back on the political radar. To support its members, ACEC has facilitated information sharing and provided tools to its Member Organizations.

Improving Public Procurement

Price rather than “value” continues to be the determining factor in many public client procurement processes. This results in firms minimally interpreting the scope of work in order to be competitive. Instead, ACEC encourages the use of InfraGuide Best Practice for Selecting a Professional Consultant and the use of qualifications-based selection (QBS).

ACEC made significant progress with Defence Construction Canada (DCC) in making changes to how it evaluates and scores proposals in order to improve the quality of engineering services by reducing the influence of price in proposal evaluation. Early results suggest the changes have been successful. While not a true QBS system, it is a step in the right direction. ACEC and DCC have jointly presented this new process to other federal government departments and the Canadian Public Procurement Forum.

ACEC Receives Support from MPs on Infrastructure

Annual Parliament Hill Day strengthens ACEC’s national profile

CEC’s continued call for a long-term infrastructure program is receiving support from Members of Parliament on both sides of the House of Commons in Ottawa. During ACEC’s Parliament Hill Day on October 23, 2012, representatives of the consulting engineering sector from across Canada were in Ottawa meeting with over 40 MPs, including Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher and Opposition Infrastructure Critic Olivia Chow.

ACEC representatives brought three key messages to Parliament Hill. Firstly, a predictable, sustainable infrastructure investment plan will allow all levels of government, public agencies and private firms to appropriately develop and allocate resources to plan, finance, design, construct and operate infrastructure projects. These infrastructure investments are vital to Canada’s prosperity.

Secondly, adoption of asset management practices by infrastructure owners will allow significant life-cycle savings. Owners will know the current state of their infrastructure in order to forecast and prioritize the potential demand for infrastructure and to effectively and efficiently allocate the required resources to maintain, operate and expand infrastructure.

Finally, ACEC and its membership have extensive expertise in infrastructure to help ensure that a long-term infrastructure program is effective, efficient and provides value to Canadian taxpayers.

ACEC’s message was well received by MPs, many of whom have written letters to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Denis Lebel endorsing ACEC’s position.

In addition, ACEC President John Gamble, Chair-Elect Jason Mewis and Vice-Chair François Plourde presented ACEC’s message to national media during a press conference on Parliament Hill.

ACEC’s annual Parliament Hill Day is the foundation for the association’s advocacy efforts throughout the rest of the year, and showcases the breadth and scope of the industry to lawmakers and the media. Each fall, representatives of ACEC’s Board of Directors are joined on Parliament Hill by representatives of provincial and territorial consulting engineering associations and by ACEC member firms that are in Ottawa for the annual Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards. Parliament Hill Day ensures that ACEC and the Canadian consulting engineering sector remain a valued stakeholder amongst federal politicians and senior government officials when making federal policy.

For more information about Parliament Hill Day and ACEC’s ongoing advocacy on behalf of the consulting engineering sector, visit

Right: During ACEC’s Parliament Hill Day ACEC held a press conference to raise
awareness of current industry concerns (left to right) ACEC Vice-Chair, François Plourde; ACEC President, John Gamble, and ACEC Chair-Elect, Jason Mewis. Below left: ACEC
representatives met with Olivia Chow, Official Opposition Critic for Transport and
Infrastructure. Below right: The consulting engineering sector was well represented
(left to right): ACEC Chair-Elect, Jason Mewis; Neil Cumming; Hon.
Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport); Todd Smith; Allan Russell.

Mark Your Calendar

ACEC Summit 2013

June 20-22

Lake Louise, Alberta


oin your industry colleagues for ACEC’s Summit 2013, June 20-22, in spectacular Lake Louise!

Planning is underway to ensure this year’s Summit is an exceptional industry event, featuring a high value business program that will benefit both you and your firm. Connect with industry leaders and experts from across the country to gain knowledge and insight on key issues that impact your business. Discuss challenges and opportunities facing the consulting engineering sector today and in the future. By attending the Summit, you’ll learn about industry trends and best practices. You’ll acquire tools and strategies for effective leadership.

The Summit 2013 host property is the renowned Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Located in the heart of Banff National Park and within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this resort hotel is recognized globally for progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the National Park offer a wide range of outdoor activities amid breathtaking scenery, including hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking and rafting.

This year, plan to attend ACEC’s Summit &ndas
h; the national business meeting for Canada’s leaders in consulting engineering.

For more information on registration and hotel bookings, please visit





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