“The guardians of public safety”
By: Mudeeha Yousaf
As the voice of consulting engineering professionals across the province, Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) advocates to municipal and provincial governments and other industry stakeholders on behalf of more than 200 member firms.
CEO was created in 1975 when a number of consulting engineering companies recognized the need for a clear and unified voice to advocate for issues shaping their businesses, the engineering profession, and the Ontario design and construction industry. CEO is a member organization of Canada’s national Association of Consulting Engineering Companies.
Chief Executive Officer Barry Steinberg has been leading the association for four years and is delivering a new organizational vision through CEO’s strategic plan, focusing on new directions and changes to governance, by-laws, and the way CEO conducts board meetings. “I was able to operationalize the strategic plan so there is a strong connection between our activities and the strategic goals. These objectives drive our activity.”
Steinberg is committed to CEO’s mission to promote a sustainable business environment for its members. From designing roads and highways, water and wastewater treatment plants, bridges, buildings and power generation facilities, CEO members help transform Ontario communities into better and safer places to live, providing a higher quality standard of living and contributing to a prosperous and diverse provincial economy.
“As engineers, and due to the Professional Engineers Act, we have a responsibility to public welfare. We take this very seriously,” says Steinberg. “Public safety is of key importance to the profession. It’s in the best interest of the residents of Ontario that our members have a sustainable business environment. Look around you, take a deep breath, and take a sip of water, because everything you see and touch was touched by our members.”
In its advocacy role, CEO opens lines of communication and input to all levels of government, industry and the public. Government relations and promoting fair procurement and fair business practices are examples of how CEO advocates on behalf of member firms. CEO also seeks to provide leadership for the engineering profession by working with its members to develop sound, viable solutions to difficult problems. Through its work, CEO endeavours to support engineering firms so that they can serve their industry. There is a necessity for consulting engineers in Ontario to come together to address issues and policies that are put forward to government and clients. “If they want to have that common voice and add to the strength then it makes sense for them to come on board and get involved,” says Steinberg. “It’s all about engagement.”
One of the biggest challenges currently facing Ontarians is the province’s massive +$100-billion infrastructure deficit. “A long-term plan is what is needed,” says Steinberg. “The challenge will always be to find the money to make this investment, but this deficit is growing every day and I can’t see where we have any choice. It would certainly help if the federal government would acknowledge their responsibility toward a long-term commitment to investing in transit funding. Canada is the only G7 country not to have a national transit strategy.”
Another challenge is how the construction industry is changing how it does business, namely the growing trend toward the use of Public Private Partnership (P3) for developing large projects. “As engineers, our biggest concern is staying close to the client and the projects are funded in a way that we design good innovation and management. The construction industry as a whole wants to see the same thing,” says Steinberg. “The industry wants a view of the work that’s coming and to see as far into the future as possible so that they can plan. It’s about economic activity.”
Success in rebuilding Ontario’s public infrastructure is directly affected by CEO’s commitment to ensuring its human resources infrastructure – the consulting engineers that help Ontario prosper – is strong and healthy. “It’s always good to have talented and well-informed people in our organization and we need to retain those people,” Steinberg says.
While it may be a small association, Consulting Engineers of Ontario has a strong focus on its mission and strategic plan that is influential at both the government and client level.
“It’s important that the public understand the invaluable contribution that my members make to the social, economic and environmental quality of life in the province. It’s a silent profession but this is gradually changing,” Steinberg says.
For more information on Consulting Engineers of Ontario, visit: www.ceo.on.ca