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Engineers slam Quebec corruption

JOC News Service
Engineers slam Quebec corruption

The associations representing Canadian and Quebec engineers respectively, responded within hours to the Charbonneau inquiry report on corruption in Quebec’s construction industry, issuing initial position statements to the media. While the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies | Canada (ACEC) noted that a "select few" were guilty of unethical behaviour, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ) has pledged to study the commission’s findings further and laid out a number of reforms that it has already implemented to deal with the corruption issues identified by the commission.

Commissioner France Charbonneau released the commission’s findings on Nov. 24. The ACEC says it believes the report and its 60 recommendations will "introduce greater transparency and accountability that will ultimately strengthen public procurement and the construction industry in Quebec," in the words of ACEC president and CEO John Gamble. He also reiterated that engineers are part of a regulated profession and as such, "If there are individuals who acted unethically, either on behalf of themselves or their companies, ACEC expects that those responsible for such acts will be held accountable." Gamble continued, "Corruption will never be entirely eradicated without dealing with both the buyers and sellers. Therefore we are pleased to see that the Inquiry recognized the role of the public sector as well as the private sector in its recommendations and welcomes vigilance by all parties in ending corruption." The OIQ, meanwhile, said it will "take the time to thoroughly analyze the recommendations made in the report." The OIQ says it has already established a working group that will examine "which measures should be implemented to ensure the best possible follow-up to the commission’s recommendations. Its priority will be to examine the recommendations that directly affect the OIQ’s public protection activities."

The OIQ made several recommendations to the Charbonneau commission in its submission during the hearings with the goal, among others, of improving "the process of awarding and managing public contracts. While continuing to step up its prevention activities — for example by increasing the number of professional inspections — the OIQ will pay particular attention to the commission’s reaction to these recommendations." The OIQ reports that new resources have been allocated so that engineers who have committed "reprehensible acts" will receive the resulting penalties. In terms of prevention, the OIQ has implemented such steps as the 1-877-ÉTHIQUE hotline, an improved professional practice guide, a mandatory course on ethics and professional conduct and mandatory training for OIQ board members.

The ACEC’s Gamble spoke out in defence of the majority of companies and professionals who conduct business ethically, and suggested that "the unethical practices of a select few will not further harm reputations built over generations of that majority."

The ACEC release added: "The consulting engineering sector across Canada including in Quebec has a proud and honourable history…Consulting engineers’ accomplishments helped build our economy as well as a strong reputation worldwide for Canadian engineering services…ACEC looks forward to continuing our industry’s proud contribution in the future in Quebec and all provinces and territories."

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