council briefs


APEGGA Financial Year Ends with Small Surplus


The following news items were gathered from the last APEGGA Council meeting, held Feb. 3 in Edmonton. The next meeting is on Friday, April 22, in Calgary, in conjunction with the APEGGA Annual Conference.

APEGGA finished the year with a small surplus of nearly $195,000, despite a number of increases in expenses over 2004 budget figures. The cost of the employee pension plan, for example, came in at $472,663 instead of the budgeted $375,000.

The big saving was in the use of consultants, Council learned from draft audited financial statements. The budget anticipated $1,058,540 for consultants, but the audited financial statements peg actual consultant spending at $778,030.

Salaries accounted for the largest portion of $9.44 million in expenses — $3.11 million or about 32 per cent.

Revenues were just under budget at $9.63 million. About 71 per cent of revenues, or nearly $6.86 million, came from member dues. Permits brought in about $731,000, registration fees about $584,000, examination fees about $516,000 and general revenue about $945,085.

The 2004 budget predicted a minor surplus of a few thousand dollars. The year before closed with a small deficit of just under $100,000.

Complete financials will be published in the April PEGG and in the 2004 Annual Report, both of which will be online in April.

Public Member Appointed

A between-meeting, electronic poll of councillors resulted in the recommendation of Bill Grace, FCA, as the latest Public Member of Council. Mr. Grace was selected to fill the vacancy left by the death late last year of Dr. Norman Wagner, O.C.

Minister of Human Resources and Employment, Hon. Mike Cardinal, MLA, has since approved the recommendation. Mr. Grace attended his first meeting Feb. 3, and a full story about him appears on page 19 of this month's PEGG.

Council has three public members. Their job is a critical one under self-governance — they take part in debates and decisions, and provide transparency on behalf of the public.

Strategic Planning Involves Members
No one knows for sure what the future will hold, but even so, the APEGGA Strategic Plan will do its best to prepare the organization for the next decade of professional self-governance. Council took a look at the consultation draft of the plan, which members can read and find out how to respond to elsewhere in this month's PEGG. Strategic planning is also discussed in President's Notebook on page 5.

Council's Strategic Planning Task Force met twice between Council meetings to continue refining the plan. The consultation draft looks at such areas as guiding principles, issues facing the professions, leadership, upholding professional practice, communication, consultation and more.

Role of 'Shall' In Guidelines Questioned
If a professional practice guideline requires that members “shall” do something, is it more correctly a practice standard or something else that carries more weight than a guideline? That kind of consideration had Council putting the brakes on the approval for publication of the new Guideline for Advertising of Professional Services.

The guideline, an update of one published in 1986, had already been distributed for comment to members and Council through the website and The PEGG. Council would normally approve a guideline at this stage, subject to minor editorial changes. Instead Council tabled it.

The concern is that there might be legal and enforcement problems whenever a guideline demands a specific way for members to practice. Council heard, however, that the use of “shall” is common in other, already published guidelines.

A second guideline — this one to help members set their consulting rates and contracts — received a warmer reception from Council. It was approved for publication. The much-anticipated guideline is the result of a large and widely consultative project to update and replace four earlier guidelines, the oldest dating from 1987.

Development of Consulting Rate Structures and Contracts owes much of its final form to the Consulting Engineers of Alberta and to Dr. George Jergeas, P.Eng., of the University of Calgary.

Visual Identity Adopted
With member online and mail-in feedback as a guide, APEGGA has accepted a visual identity for the Association. Members have already begun seeing the new logo and taglines in this month's PEGG and on the new APEGGA website, www.apegga.org.

More and more the logo will show up, during what's called a “soft” roll-out. Most of the 674 responding members rated highly the so-called “swoosh A” logo, of the four presented.

For the full story on the new logo and new tag lines, as well as on how the visual identity fits into APEGGA's branding initiative, see the story on the front page of this month's PEGG.

Aboriginals and The Professions
Although actual numbers aren't known, it's common knowledge that aboriginal peoples are under-represented in the APEGGA professions. Does that mean the Association should do something to help change the demographics?

It's an issue staff is researching. Even if a lead role isn't necessary, it might be possible to tailor for native communities some parts of existing APEGGA programs, such as Outreach and the online employment centre. Also, APEGGA may be able to join forces with other groups already gearing programs to natives.

Car Discounts Offered
New car discounts are now available to APEGGA members, thanks to three new additions to the Member Services program. Millwoods Suzuki and Team Ford Sales in Edmonton, as well as Tower Chrysler in Calgary, all have created special deals for members, Council heard.

Millwoods Suzuki will sell new cars at four per cent over invoice, Tower Chrysler at two per cent over invoice. Details on the Team Ford discount weren't available at the time of the Council meeting. In some cases, members will also receive deals on related parts and services, as well as discounts for their families.

Another new service is being offered, this one by Expatriate Services. The company, run by a professional geologist in Calgary, will give members who are expatriate workers discounts on their tax preparation services.

More information on all the new services will appear online at www.apegga.org/ members/Benefits/toc.html. Deals on a full range of services, covering everything from accommodations and cell phone plans to RESPs and personal insurance, are available through APEGGA.

Minute-Taking Adjusted
Minutes of Council meetings should be more reflective of the points of view that arise, staff were told. Although Council Briefs in The PEGG do give some of the flavour of issues, the official minutes don't say enough, said Council.

Under APEGGA's governance model, once a decision is made councillors are required to support it — even if they disagreed at the Council table. That's one of the reasons minutes have traditionally focused on outcomes rather than debates.

Councillors said, however, that more detailed minutes won't stop them from living by the governance model. Fuller minutes send the message to members that democratic debate takes place, before a united front is created.

Staff will begin recording the numbers of votes for and against, and also, as one councillor described it, “give members a sense of the pros and cons.”