StampASET has issued a call to action to its members in a political campaign for its own regulatory role. But there already is a good and workable regulatory regime through APEGGA. In the interests of public safety and the future of your professions, APEGGA’s executive urges you to read the following message.

All APEGGA members and permit holders should be aware of some recent developments that could affect the practice of engineering or geoscience of our 43,000 members. In fact, this issue has much broader implications for other self-regulating professions and indeed for the public safety and well-being of all Albertans.

What is the issue?  A call to action for ASET members was the title of a TECHLink circulated to ASET members recently. It seeks to arouse a political campaign that could cause government to give technologists in Alberta a regulatory role and the right to practice independently, which could detract from public safety. Included is the stated intention of ASET to seek legislation that would allow “applied science, information and engineering technology professionals” to practice independently.

ASET’s recently approved new name, to the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta, causes concern enough because of the use of the words “engineering” and “professionals” together in the title. It creates a probability that the public could be confused that these practitioners are qualified to do something they are not.

Technologists are valued members of the engineering and geoscience team. Those who may be qualified can apply for and receive, as more than 150 members have, the Registered Professional Technologist (R.P.T.Eng.) title under the EGGP Act, which allows them to practice independently within a defined scope. This category of licensure was created in 1999 in response to the desires of technologists to accept greater responsibility, thereby demonstrating the responsiveness of the current regulatory model.

You should know that this issue is far greater than that of ASET seeking to have a regulatory role. At its core is the erosion of the model of self-governance and the undermining of the ability of self-regulating professional associations to protect public safety and well-being.

This is not a model that is broken. It is not a model that needs fixing. It is a model that has served Albertans very well for decades and must be reconfirmed by our elected officials.

What the public needs is greater transparency and accountability, not less. The current model of professional regulation, one act and one regulator, is simple, clear, well defined, open to change, proven, and able to provide graduated and appropriate levels of professional responsibility.

Technologists who do not wish to practice independently and take responsibility for their work are totally free to practice their skills, whether they are members of ASET or not, and are indeed doing so today. Creating a new model of licensure will not, in and of itself, do anything to address skill shortages in Alberta.

This is not just an APEGGA/ASET issue. Your elected Council and other member volunteers and staff are working with other professional associations to make our collective position known to government.

We know that ASET sent out a call to action to its members (available on our website at www.apegga.org) asking them to speak with their MLAs about the subject and urging them to attend a scheduled government Standing Policy Committee meeting on Jan. 30.

APEGGA has offered to work with ASET to create a regulatory regime that meets the needs of everyone. This would be a far more preferable way to resolve this issue, once and for all. Public safety and well-being are at risk if the government fails to reconfirm the importance and effectiveness of our preferred regulatory model for self-regulating professions: one act, one regulator.

You may also wish to look at our one-page statement on the issue available at www.apegga.org/pdf/ CCPEStatement%20on%20Eng_Oct.pdf.  It can be shared by you with anyone you speak to about this critically important issue over the next few days, weeks and months. Have a look too at the November President’s Notebook, www.apegga.org/Members/ Publications/peggs/Web11-05/ notebook.html.

Speak about this with your fellow professionals. Engage your fellow team members in the workplace in the discussion. Send an e-mail or make a phone call to other professionals to make sure that they know about this issue.

It is time for the engineering and geoscience professions, together with our sister professional associations, to be heard loud and clear when we say: public safety must not be compromised.