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2013 President's Award Recipient

John Gerretsen, LLB, QC

PEO is proud to recognize the Honourable John Gerretsen for his remarkable support of our profession.

Since his election to the Ontario Legislature in 1995, John Gerretsen has worked closely with PEO in various ministries, providing a consistent example of how the provincial government can work effectively with the association to regulate professional engineering in Ontario.

In his current role as the province’s Attorney General, Minister Gerretsen has provided tremendous support to PEO through one of the most significant changes to the Professional Engineers Act in recent times – the repeal of section 12(3)(a), often referred to as the industrial or machinery exception, which is to become effective on September 1, from a previously announced date of March 1.

In announcing a date for the repeal, the Minister noted that it will “improve oversight to help workers and the public stay safe and promote more efficient and productive workplaces.” The implementation extension, he later said, is aimed at ensuring the repeal’s “smooth implementation for businesses.”

Indeed, as a special guest speaker at PEO’s Queen’s Park reception last fall, Minister Gerretsen attributed the large turnout of MPPs of all political affiliations to their “tremendously high regard” for the engineering profession “irrespective of [their] partisan viewpoint.”

PEO and Minister Gerretsen also shared success during his role as Minister of the Environment from 2007 to 2010. During this time, legislation covering remediation of contaminated sites in the province was amended to address concerns brought to the ministry’s attention by engineers, property owners and others involved in environmental site assessments. In an interview with Engineering Dimensions, Minister Gerretsen called the Brownfields regulation “a great example of just how the province can work with professional organizations like PEO in coming up with more effective regulation.”

“PEO’s input and advice,” he continued, “was workable and practical, especially in helping us to identify and establish the credentials for professionals taking part in environmental site assessments.”

Minister Gerretsen also suggested that PEO’s interaction with his ministry on the Brownfields file could serve as “a template” for positive stakeholder relations between a ministry and professional groups.

His tenure as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing from 2003 to 2007 coincided with the launch of PEO’s Government Liaison Program, which was created, in part, to oppose legislation from his ministry that would have amended the Ontario Building Code to impose additional qualification and registration requirements on PEO licence holders, an area of PEO jurisdiction under the Professional Engineers Act
Although this situation put the association and the Minister at odds, the Minister was always gracious with his time, respectful of processes and upfront as to his objectives.