I am honoured to serve as ACEC-Manitoba President for the 2014 -2015 term and I am looking forward to an exciting and productive year working with the board of directors and the membership. My sincere thanks go to Past President Steve Reaburn for his leadership over the last year and I also thank Shirley Tillet Tillett and her staff for their outstanding work and dedication that they consistently provide ACEC-Manitoba.
As incoming president I have four key initiatives that I would like to see our organization focus on during the 2014-2015 term.
The first initiative is to continue to lobby the Manitoba government to lower the ultimate liability period from 30 years to a more reasonable 10 or 15 years in the Limitations of Actions Act. Manitoba has the longest ultimate liability periods in North America and our legislation is not consistent with other provinces. Our profession is very mobile and we are continuously exporting our expertise to other jurisdictions outside of Manitoba. This antiquated provision of the act makes us less competitive and we are running the risk of permanently losing our highly skilled professionals to other provinces. The Manitoba government is seemingly not interested in making any changes to the act. However the recent success in BC to reduce the time limit to 15 years gives me hope that we can have the same success here in Manitoba. It should be noted that the Manitoba Association of Architects, the Certified Technicians and Technologists Association of Manitoba, Darren Peters from Oldfield Kirby Esau Insurance, APEGM and the Winnipeg Construction Association have joined us in our lobbying efforts. And we thank them for their support.
The second initiative is continuing to lobby for the removal of services provided by consulting engineers from the procurement provisions of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement. Currently, Manitoba has not signed onto this agreement. We don’t know how much discussion has taken place between the Province of Manitoba and the Governments of Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta. From our conversations with ACEC Canada we are aware that Manitoba may be the next province to sign the agreement. For those not familiar with this agreement’s implications to consulting engineers , we need only look to Alberta and BC where the procurement provisions of this agreement have resulted in some public clients treating professional engineering services more as a commodity and not as a value-added professional service. The unintended consequence of this agreement has included reduced taxpayer value via higher construction, life cycle and procurement costs, a greater risk to public health and safety and a weakened consulting industry.
The third initiative is to continue to enhance the profile of consulting engineering in Manitoba through internal and external communications. This is where I would like to see an increase in our use of social media – sites like Twitter are becoming very important tools in dispensing and gathering information. Social media sites have the power to lever all of these initiatives into the public sphere – and that is why they are so vital.
I know all levels of government are very aware of the significance of Twitter and they monitor it continuously. Twitter is a very quick, cost effective and efficient way to get our message out to government and the public. This is where our membership can take an active role in publicizing the strengths of our profession. To this end I am inviting that all members follow ACEC- MB (@ACEC_Manitoba) on Twitter.
The fourth and last key initiative would be to maintain more regular contact with key government ministers and elected officials from all parties. ACEC’s mission statement is to be a voice for the consulting engineering industry and we need to ensure that our voice is heard loudly, clearly and more frequently. We want to be the government’s trusted advisor, and that the government of Manitoba comes to us to vet important policy changes.
I’m looking forward to an exciting year, full of promise. Over the last few years on the Board I’ve met many great people in this industry. I am looking forward to meeting and working with many more who are eager to see our profession continue to grow and thrive.
I will end with a message to the ACEC-Manitoba membership as a whole. And my message is “get involved!” We look forward to all of our members finding their place within ACEC-Manitoba,to get engaged and to contribute. As Robert F. Kennedy once said “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”
Cameron Dyck, P.Eng., P.E.