At the time of an obvious crisis of confidence about the integrity and transparency of the contract-awarding process and given the lack of resources available in Québec's municipalities to manage their public infrastructures in complete transparency, Bill 76 is a step in the right direction. "However, in the view of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, Bill 76 does not constitute the final remedy to the shortcomings of the current process. In fact, even with good supervision of the contract award process, it is still vital to begin by identifying the specific needs and the best ways of meeting them. Otherwise we risk missing the real issue," the OIQ President noted.
In its brief, the OIQ asked that the action be expanded beyond the contract-awarding process to ensure that the municipalities are able to manage their infrastructures in the long term, in order to provide their residents with optimum service at the best cost. To do this, they must be able to define their needs, better assess the real value of the solutions offered to them and finally ensure the follow-up necessary to obtain a final product that gives them their money's worth in the long term. This is particularly true for engineering services, whose complexity requires the kinds of expertise often lacking in most of Québec's municipalities.
The Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec recommends to the Land-Use Planning Committee of the National Assembly that the process for reviewing the rules governing the awarding of contracts by municipalities take into account the following elements:
1. That in the contract-awarding process for awarding professional engineering services contracts by municipalities:
a. be based first on a review of the competence of the technical resources and the quality of the solutions offered;
b. next, that the professional fees be negotiated on the basis of a pre-established scale along the lines of the one currently used for contracting by public bodies.
2. That the municipalities be given access to independent professional resources capable of:
a. identifying the needs of the municipality in a consistent and independent way, in particular when preparing project specifications;
b. participating in the selection of professionals and suppliers of technical services on the basis of the bidder's expertise and experience and the quality of the proposals;
c. validating the analysis of the solutions offered to them so that they can make an independent judgment on their quality and value;
d. ensuring that there is appropriate supervision of the works to guarantee that their value complies with what was negotiated in the contract.
3. That the laws that define and supervise the duties, responsibilities and powers of the municipalities include the role and responsibilities of the professional and independent resources needed by the municipalities.
4. That the professionals hired to make such analysis and supervision, as well as any supplier of services associated with the works for which a contract has been awarded, be obliged to make a declaration of interest. Failing which, penalties could be imposed.
5. That there be close collaboration between officials of the Department of Municipal Affairs, the Regions and Land Occupancy as well as Infrastructure Québec, so that the managers of municipal public infrastructures can benefit from expertise that will be developed over the years within this new agency.
Founded in 1920, the, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec consists of some 58,000 engineering professionals in all fields. The term "engineer" designates any member of the OIQ holding a permit to practice that confers the right to perform professional services on an exclusive basis. The role of the OIQ is to supervise the practice of engineering in order to ensure the quality of the services rendered by its members and thus ensure protection of the public.