The OIQ initiative launched today will proceed on a voluntary basis in a spirit of cooperation. Any firm taking part in the audit program will agree to abide by certain rules and standards of practice and to undergo audits by the OIQ. While not necessarily guaranteeing results, compliance with this initiative could be a significant factor in the rehabilitation of these firms with those who provide them with work, and entitle them once again to be considered in calls for public tenders. For the OIQ, a demonstrably high level of integrity is a key qualification for any firm that wants to do business in Québec.
“The mission of the OIQ is to protect the public interest and to guarantee professionalism among its members. 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,” Lebel told his audience.
The OIQ initiative will be introduced in three phases, starting in the next few weeks.
1. Review of codes of ethics
The OIQ will develop higher standards in terms of professional and business practices. Professional ethicists are working with the OIQ in its discussions to help identify best practices and spot problem areas that might lead to questionable activities. The OIQ will then go on to review consulting engineering firms’ codes of ethics and make recommendations for harmonizing their codes with the official Code of Ethics of Engineers.
The OIQ will conduct audits in three areas:
- Professional practice (including project oversight, mandatory continuing education and enrollment in the Order)
- Awarding and management of contracts (administrative oversight)
- Business development (business practices for obtaining contracts, lobbying, bidding on calls for tenders)
The OIQ will make recommendations for corrective measures, where applicable. The standards defined by the OIQ in the three areas mentioned above will be made public. An up-to-date list of those firms that are in compliance with these ethical standards and practices, and those that are not, will be maintained by the OIQ. This information will be shared with Quebec’s most important sources of engineering projects.
3. Professional development
The OIQ will upgrade its professional training courses to put ethics first and foremost in the professional development strategy for our members. We will also make sure to include questions of ethics and good conduct in our existing activities and will hold two major events in the near future:
- A series of 8 working lunches (in Montréal and Québec City), with prominent figures as guest speakers, and
- A study day in 2014 on the theme of ethics in business practice
“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,” Lebel concluded.