APEGGA Mobility Agreements
Back Up New Trade Zone

Alberta and B.C. have announced a plan to ease cross-border barriers and restrictions. It’s a great idea – and one that APEGGA supports through existing mobility agreements, says Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng.


An Alberta-B.C. trade zone with as few barriers as possible is a concept the Association welcomes, says APEGGA Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng. In fact the engineering and geoscience professions in Canada have shown leadership in developing strong inter-association agreements, which make professional mobility fast and simple for members in good standing.

Mr. Windsor emphasized, however, that further changes in the way engineers and geoscientists are licensed must not ignore the central role of each province’s self-governing structure. “Our concern is public safety,” he said in the wake of an Alberta-B.C. announcement of a new economic partnership. “Public safety cannot be compromised in any way, shape or form.”

Late last month the two provincial governments signed the Alberta-British Columbia Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement, which begins April 1, 2007, and comes into full effect in April 2009 after a two-year transition. The agreement doesn’t say engineering and geoscience licences in one province will automatically be valid in the other, but the intent of the agreement is to enhance mobility.

Such a move would require major legislative changes on both sides of the border, Mr. Windsor said. Each province’s ability to set standards and discipline members must be maintained.

“We support the free movement of engineers, geologists and geoscientists as they work within their professions in Canada. And we also support the system of self regulation in place in the provinces – a system with an excellent record of protecting the public.

“These two concepts can and should work hand in hand. Our inter-association agreements virtually ensure full mobility throughout Canada.”

The Alberta-B.C. agreement comes out of the fourth annual meeting of the two provinces’ cabinets on April 28. It’s designed to give businesses and workers in both provinces “seamless access to a larger range of opportunities across all sectors, including energy, transportation, labour mobility, business registration and government procurement,” says a news release from the two provinces.

Although the release does not name engineering and geoscience licences specifically, it does say that the agreement will “enhance labour mobility by recognizing occupational certifications of workers in both provinces.”

The agreement will also streamline business registration and reporting requirements “so that businesses registered in one province are automatically recognized in the other,” says the release. It will “provide open and non-discriminatory” access to government procurement, and it will “create a clear, comprehensive and enforceable dispute avoidance and resolution mechanism.”

Overall, these are good ideas, says Mr. Windsor.  “We certainly support the intent of this new Alberta-B.C. agreement, and we will work with government as the concept moves forward within the existing self-regulatory framework in place across Canada.”