1. What is PEO’s Government Liaison Program?
PEO’s Government Liaison Program (GLP) was established to ensure that government, PEO members and the public continue to recognize PEO’s regulatory mandate, in particular its contributions to maintaining the highest level of professionalism among engineers working in the public interest. Ultimately, the goal is to have government view PEO as a partner, and understand and support PEO’s policy direction.
The main messages of the program are:
- PEO has a legislated mandate under the Professional Engineers Act to regulate the practice of professional engineering in the public interest.
- The self-regulating engineering profession in Ontario–comprising over 80,000 professionals – has been successfully protecting the public for more than 90 years.
- PEO has unique knowledge and expertise and it is in the best interest of government to consult with it before considering new policy directions that may have the potential to impact the regulation of the practice of professional engineering.
1.1 Why is it necessary for PEO to become engaged in such a program?
As a leader in the professional community, whose practitioners make significant contributions to the economy and many aspects of our everyday lives, PEO ought to have influence and impact on policy direction, as it applies to the regulation of the profession. By not taking action, PEO would be falling short in its legislated mandate to serve the public interest.
While engineering has historically taken a back seat to medicine and law when it comes to being vocal about its professional interests, PEO sees its GLP opening doors so it is, increasingly, being invited to the decision-making tables. PEO believes professional engineers have much to contribute to the development of government policy as it relates to the regulation of the practice of professional engineering.
Through the GLP, PEO’s dedicated volunteers from across the province are building the necessary relationships to ensure PEO’s perspective is heard.
1.2 How is the program structured?
At the Head Office Level
Government Liaison Committee (GLC) is a committee of Council that provides oversight to the GLP. In its role of providing oversight, the GLC coordinates GLP efforts and develops and executes new strategic initiatives for the program. Serving on the GLC are representatives from PEO GLP, Engineers Canada, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, Consulting Engineers of Ontario, the Ontario Centre for Engineering and Public Policy (2011-15), engineering interns and students who join together to determine the direction of government relations for engineers in the province.
The Government Liaison Committee meets regularly throughout the year to create and execute a work plan, provide advice and feedback on the direction of government relations activities, consult with stakeholders, monitor trends, develop and issue GLP Information Notes to brief spokespeople on regulatory issues, organize events and training initiatives, and encourage involvement in public policy development.
At the Chapter Level
To ensure chapter involvement in the program, each chapter has a GLP Subcommittee to oversee the program at the grassroots level. The subcommittee chairs are volunteer spokespeople for their chapter ridings and are responsible for organizing the chapter objectives/activities, which include:
- inviting MPPs to chapter events;
- coordinating meetings with local MPPs;
- participating in MPP events; and
- ensuring GLP Subcommittee members are well informed of engineering and non-engineering matters so they can thoroughly comprehend issues important to MPPs.
Liaison with federal politicians is coordinated with Engineers Canada’s Bridging Government and Engineers program and is therefore not included in PEO’s GLP.
To help facilitate the GLP, PEO has retained the services of Brown & Cohen Communications and Public Affairs to:
- provide spokesperson training for GLP members;
- help facilitate spokesperson activities with MPPs in local chapters, events and meetings; and
- provide guidance on the activities/steps that chapters can take to engage MPPs.
2. GLP Chapter Engagement
PEO needs to use its province wide strength to get the message across to the provincial government to ensure that government, PEO members and the public continue to recognize PEO’s regulatory mandate, in particular its contributions to maintaining the highest level of professionalism among engineers working in the public interest.
An effective Government Liaison Program is based on:
- a strong local presence;
- a legislative framework and policy; and
- communications support to be established to achieve a consistency of message and a better understanding (and broader acceptance) by government.
2.1. Responsibilities of the GLP Chapter Subcommittee
The main responsibilities of the Government Liaison Program (GLP) Chapter Subcommittee are as follows:
- Oversight: To advise on, coordinate and lead the chapter’s participation in government liaison activities.
- Identify Opportunities: To follow protocol and guidelines to handle offers to participate in local events with MPP’s. It’s up to the Government Liaison Program Chapter Subcommittee to determine the best opportunities to engage MPP’s and to track these activities.
- Co-ordination: To coordinate interaction between chapter and local MPP’s. This is a critical function for the GLP Chapter Subcommittee because the correspondence between the chapter and the MPP will shape the relationship going forward.
The Government Liaison Program engages PEO Chapter members in a number of initiatives through a comprehensive three-pronged approach:
- Facilitating strong, on-going relationships between chapter members and their local MPPs
- Actively monitoring and taking action on issues and upcoming legislation that could affect PEO and the Professional Engineers Act.
- Providing communications and policy support to express PEO positions to government policy makers.
Consistency of message is imperative.
2.2 Recruitment of GLP representatives
Chapter GLP representatives will be recruited on the basis of following factors:
- Member of the chapter and in good standing with PEO (i.e. P.Eng. or E.I.T.).
- Interest and understanding in the Government Liaison Program, PEO’s role/responsibilities and ability to deliver key messages.
- Experience and confidence in meeting with MPPs and key staff.
- Availability to participate in PEO training for GLP representatives.
- Availability to represent the chapter and participate in meetings with MPPs and key staff.
- Are not already serving as a spokesperson for the OSPE PAN program.
Participants must meet the above criteria as a precondition to their involvement in the GLP program.