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Bulletin N°72 de Décembre 2010

Editorial version anglaise

A hotline you can fully trust

The mission of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ) is to protect the public, ensure the quality of the services provided by its members individually and as a group to society and support their professional development.

This is a noble mission that has in the past allowed engineers to enjoy a great deal of trust by the general public on the “profession barometer”. Yet, in a survey published in the Journal de Montréal1 at the end of September 2010, engineers were given a mere 69% trust rating. The following line appeared: “[…] police officers (-5%), judges (-4%) and engineers (-3%), all involved at varying degrees in various scandals, are moving downward.”[translation]

It must be said that we are dealing with a new kind of problem in violations of the Code of Ethics of Engineers. The quality of work by engineers used to be the primary cause of the disciplinary actions that were imposed on them.

Although ethical concepts have always been at the core of our values, the continuing onslaught of malpractice allegations raised in the last two years are seriously undermining the concept of public trust in our profession.

In a context that directly concerns the OIQ’s own prerogatives, we have the duty to adequately meet the growing demand for investigations: 488 files were opened in 2009-2010 compared to 80 in 2008-2009. This is about protecting the public, which is the very essence of our mission. We have said it before, and I repeat, we had to take action!

Silence is not always golden…Recognizing a problem, being able to talk about it, and feeling like you are being heard help solve it.

Based on that premise, the idea of an ethics hotline was conceived in order to provide a simple, reliable and fully confidential tool that would offer all kinds of potential solutions to OIQ members and, in the not so distant future, the general public.

The 1 877-ÉTHIQUE hotline is an initiative created under the ethics and professional conduct action plan adopted by the Board of Directors and led by the Office of the Syndic of the OIQ.

The 1 877-ÉTHIQUE hotline gives you access to professionals who are aware of the importance of attentive, active listening and can suggest informative reference documents to help you handle a situation of ethical considerations.

I also invite you to read the column penned by Jeannette Gauthier, Eng., the Syndic of the Order, in the December issue of PLAN, which gives you examples of many other actions that are being taken to support this initiative. These are concrete, realistic actions, which show just how seriously we take the ethical problems that are attempting to break down the still solid foundations of our profession.

The OIQ is faced with a multitude of challenges. Broadly speaking, globalization, sustainable development, infrastructure renewal, integration of internationally trained professionals, delocalization of engineering services, climate change and – given the demographic trends – the future generation of engineers, particularly in regards to young women, are sensitive topics that concern us as engineering professionals.

To succeed in such conditions, we must develop ways to firmly establish our key assets. In that perspective, public trust in our profession is essential if we want to enjoy free rein and meet the challenges of the 21st century.

1 877-ÉTHIQUE is fully in line with our mission!

Maud Cohen, Eng.
President, Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec

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1. Léger & Léger survey, Journal de Montréal, September 29, 2010, p. 27

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