“The modernization of our law is very good news. The bill’s passage today is the culmination of over 25 years of work with different governments, the Office des professions du Québec (OPQ), and other stakeholders. Ultimately, this reform advances both public protection and the profession. We thank the government for giving this matter priority and for considering some of the important recommendations we made during the parliamentary process,” said Kathy Baig, Eng., FEC, MBA., President of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ).
Advances for the public and the profession
As adopted, the bill includes several new positive features. Its descriptions of engineering activities and works are more encompassing than those in the current Act. In addition, its definition of an engineer’s field of practice was updated to include references to fields of engineering practice that have emerged in the last several decades and is flexible enough to accommodate future developments in the profession.
Public protection will be further strengthened by the additional powers that were granted to OIQ inspectors and the more effective penal provisions that were added. The penalties for an offence against the Act were brought into line with those stipulated in the Professional Code, which means that the penalties for using or allowing the use of non-compliant plans and specifications for engineering works will now be much higher. Penalties that were limited to a maximum fine of $10,000 in the current version of the Act will now rise to $125,000 for a legal person and $62,500 for a natural person who uses or allows the use of plans and specifications that have not been signed and sealed by an engineer.
To explain how these changes will impact the practice of engineers and other parties concerned, the OIQ is already working on developing tools and various communications that will be made available in the coming weeks and months.
Mandatory supervision of construction work
The OIQ had hoped that MNAs would send a clearer message about construction quality in Quebec by making the supervision of construction work mandatory in this bill. Quebec still has no form of mandatory work supervision, unlike several other Canadian provinces.
“The new Act represents an advance. However, the OIQ would have liked it to open the door to mandatory work supervision. As a society, we must find a way to correct this anomaly, which can have serious implications for public safety. With this in mind, the OIQ hopes to continue the discussion begun at the Committee on Institutions. Together with other parties concerned, the OIQ plans to keep advocating this issue, particularly with Quebec’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ),” explained the President of the OIQ.
To find out more about the process that led to the passage of the new Engineers Act, visit the OIQ’s site and the National Assembly’s site.