Bill n° 29 (PL-29), which proposed to amend the Engineers Act, was introduced by the Minister of Justice in the province of Quebec in June, 2019. The contents of Bill 29 were a major concern for many IT stakeholders in Quebec.
As proposed, the PL-29 added informatics and information technology (IT) to the fields of engineering practice. The bill contained articles which defined software development activities as reserved for engineers. Consult the text of the Bill n° 29 on this page.
The IT (information technology) and computer industry is an extraordinary engine of economic growth and job creation and has a considerable impact in all industrial sectors, based on the creativity, diversity and quality of IT talent in Quebec and across Canada. These proposed articles had the potential for major negative impacts on the IT industry in Quebec, without providing better protection for the public.
If PL-29 passes as proposed, many computer and other IT professionals would no longer be able to practice their professional activities as before, or would be required to practice under the supervision of an engineer. In addition, companies in the IT sector, as well as those with IT departments, would be challenged to hire the engineering staff required by the PL-29’s provisions.
CS-Can|Info-Can member, Professor Pierre Poulin, Chair of the Département d’informatique et de recherche opérationnelle à l’Université de Montréal, was instrumental in make the computer science community aware of PL-29 and the issues it presented. CS-Can|Info-Can was a key initiator and partner in the Coalition for the Future of Informatics (Coalition pour l’avenir de l’informatique), which was formed in August to represent the IT industry in Quebec and to invite the Government of Quebec to consider its recommendations. The Coalition is a unique initiative which brings together some thirty organizations from industry, academia and associations, and thus represents the entire information technology (IT) ecosystem in Quebec. This Coalition was quickly established as soon as Bill 29 was introduced in the National Assembly in order to convey to the government with a common voice the community’s important concerns about the bill’s provisions. Consult the Mémoire tabled by the Coalition.
CS-Can|Info-Can was represented in the Coalition and in meetings with Justice Minister Sonia Lebel, by Professor Marc Frappier of the Department of Computer Science at the Université de Sherbrooke’s Faculty of Science. Initial discussions with Minister Lebel to remove the software engineering and informatics articles, which define acts reserved for engineers, from the bill have been productive. The discussions have taken into account the interests of Quebec industry and academics in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence, and noted that these critical aspects of the bill that would have had a largely negative impact on the free practice of these fields crucial to the Quebec and Canadian economies.
The amended Bill n° 29 is expected to be studied in detail by the Quebec National Assembly’s Committee on Institutions early 2020. CS-Can|Info-Can will continue to report on progress on this important issue.