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    Member Consultation 

    Member Consultation: Towards a New Code of Ethics of Engineers

    The Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec would like to obtain your comments on detailed guidelines for the future Code of ethics of engineers, which will replace the current code.

    You may send us your written comments until January 15.

    Background

    The Code of ethics of engineers dates back to 1976. Although it has undergone some minor changes over the years, the Code has never been fully reviewed. In the last 45 years, both the context in which the profession is practiced and public expectations have changed a lot. It is important for the Code to reflect the modern times.

    To lead this project, the OIQ created a task force formed by employees from different departments and Board members. The group identified the gaps and areas for improvement in the current Code, specifically by surveying certain engineering associations. It also performed a comparative analysis of different codes of ethics of engineers as well as the codes of ethics of other related professions.

    The table describes the detailed guidelines proposed by the OIQ. In their current version, these guidelines are merely the basis for developing the Code and not the final wording of the future Code of ethics of engineers.

    Main changes

    The detailed guidelines reflect several elements found in the current Code. However, here are the main new proposals.

    1. Give greater consideration to the different contexts in which engineering is practiced

    The proposed guidelines aim to provide a more explicit description of the obligations that apply to engineers who practice in a partnership or on behalf of an employer. One of the proposals is that engineers who act as officers should be obligated to take reasonable measures to ensure compliance with the Engineers Act and the OIQ’s regulations.

    2. Place more of an emphasis on competence

    Competence is one of the four values of the profession. The OIQ proposes that this value should be conveyed more explicitly in the Code of Ethics of Engineers, as is the case in many other engineers’ codes of ethics elsewhere.

    3. Provide better guidelines for preparing engineering documents

    The OIQ proposes that engineers should be allowed to sign and seal all engineering documents that they prepare or that are prepared under their supervision, and not just plans and specifications.

    The OIQ also proposes that better guidelines should be provided for preparing engineering documents, in particular by drawing on the Engineering Document Guidelines (Lignes directrices concernant les documents d’ingénierie).

    4. Reflect more modern realities

    The OIQ suggests adding the obligation of taking sustainable development principles into account and considering data protection as an integral part of the safety of work concept.

    5. Ensure consistency with the Professional Code

    The proposed guidelines also touch on subjects that are not currently covered by the Code of Ethics, but which must be included in it according to the Professional Code, such as the communication of confidential information in order to prevent an act of violence and the obligation of informing the syndic in specific circumstances.

    6. Remove certain outdated provisions

    The guidelines suggest removing the obligation that engineers apply to the President of the OIQ for conciliation in some cases and propose simplifying the rules on fee sharing, on behalf of partnerships and for advertising.

    7. Modernize the wording

    The OIQ suggests replacing the English terms “man” and “colleague” and the French terms “propriété," and “travaux” with others that are more in step with modern legal terminology.

    Next steps

    The working group will take all comments received into consideration and begin developing a new draft of the Code of ethics of engineers. The draft Code will also be subject to a consultation of members, probably towards the end of spring 2021. As for the new Code of ethics of engineers, it should come into force in June 2022.

    Specific issues

    The consultation concerns all of the proposed guidelines. However, the OIQ would like to obtain your comments on two subjects in particular.

    1. Sustainable development

    Guidelines 2.4 and 7.6 propose that engineers should be obligated to practice their professional activities by taking sustainable development principles into account. They must also promote these principles to the public and their clients. These guidelines are inspired by other codes of ethics.

    What do you think of these obligations? Do they seem appropriate, excessive or inadequate? Should they be worded differently?

    2. Written contracts

    Guideline 8.2 proposes that engineers should be obligated to ensure that they properly understand the requirements and needs of their clients and that their clients should understand the nature, scope and cost of the professional services that will be provided to them.

    This guideline also suggests that engineers who are asked to provide professional services to clients that are not their employer must conclude a written contract before providing the services.

    One of the best ways to fulfill this obligation is still to conclude a contract in writing, which could help decrease the loss experience of the professional liability insurance plan and, by extension, the premiums. However, such an obligation may be burdensome and hard to apply in cases where engineers have to provide their professional services in emergencies or whenever they provide them for free.

    What do you think of the obligation of concluding a written contract? Can you think of justified exceptions to it? Should all changes in the scope or nature of professional services be confirmed in writing?

    Participating in the consultation

    You can e-mail us your written comments at consultations@oiq.qc.ca until January 15, 2021.

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