March 2008 Issue


Survey Suggests Support For M.I.T. Voting, P.Geo.


The PEGG compiled the following items from the Feb. 21 APEGGA Council meeting in Calgary. The next meeting is April 18 in Edmonton, in conjunction with the Annual Conference.

An APEGGA survey suggests there’s strong member support for the creation of a single designation for geologists and geophysicists. Council also heard that members appear to be largely in favour of extending at least some electoral rights to members-in-training.

Off and on for years, Council has grappled with the idea of M.I.T. electoral rights. Some say expanding rights is a great way to engage young people in the Association, early in their careers, and to bring fresh perspectives to issues. Others say M.I.T.s first need the wisdom they gain during training.
The creation of a P.Geo. designation, meanwhile, would bring APEGGA in line with the rest of Canada. Proponents say the more inclusive designation would prevent some people from falling through licensure cracks, improve mobility in Canada and recognize that practices tend to overlap. Those against it say each profession has specific skills that require different qualifications and should be kept separate.

The true test will come at the electronic ballot box. Members have now begun voting on three ballot questions about the two concepts, in conjunction with the regular Council election.

The Association distributed a series of e-PEGG calls for comment late last year and into early February, as Council looked at including the concepts on the ballot. APEGGA also distributed discussion papers about them.

With member responses in hand at last month’s meeting, Council finalized the wordings of the three questions for the ballot. Those wordings appear in the Notice of Ballot Questions on page 2 of this month’s PEGG.

Of 271 responses concerning the P.Geol. designation, 218 or about 80 per cent were in favour. Anyone who already has a P.Geol. or P.Geoph. designation would be allowed to keep it, if he or she wishes.

On electoral rights for M.I.T.s, responses totalled 452, with at least qualified support coming from 343 or 76 per cent. The qualified support is because of how far members want rights to extend.

With that in mind, it takes two ballot questions to cover off the M.I.T. issue — one for whether M.I.T.s should be allowed to vote, the other for whether they should be allowed to serve on Council.

Auditors Call for Two Improvements
Auditors liked what they saw in APEGGA’s books for 2007, but they do want a written policy in place for so-called “related-party transactions” between staff and Council. Also, the auditors noted a “lack of documentation of key responsibilities for many key positions at APEGGA,” says a report of the Audit Committee.

A related-party transaction is one that might raise questions of conflict of interest. For example, the policy would explain the circumstances and procedures that would allow an APEGGA contract job to go to a councillor’s company.

The report says the policy is necessary even though “there is an understanding with management and Council members regarding the sensitivity of related-party transactions.”

Council heard that management will devise the related-party policy, as well as a chart of key management positions and their annually reviewed responsibilities.

Council approved the audit financial statements for publication in the 2007 Annual Report and presentation at the 2008 Annual General Meeting. The year saw spending of more than $12.6 million and revenues of more than $13.2 million, compared with $11.3 million in spending and $11.6 million in revenue in 2006. Assets and liabilities balanced at more than $10.3 million, up from $9.2 million.

Council also passed a motion to recommend to the AGM that Kingston Ross Pasnak LLP be APEGGA’s auditors for 2008.

The year 2007 was a tough one on investments, and the APEGGA Pension Plan was not spared. The Finance Committee noted that a return of only $97,000 on plan assets, compared with $804,000 the year before, resulted in the deficit growing by $660,000.

Net returns were only two per cent on APEGGA’s Reserve Investment Fund in 2007. The fund’s target is 6.5 per cent. Total value of the fund at Dec. 31 was more than $7.2 million.

Strategy Budgeting Starts Earlier
APEGGA management and Council have strived to clearly link the budget process to the actual strategies that Council approves. At the December meeting, however, one flaw in the system came to the fore — Council doesn’t see the costs of the strategies it approves in June until the budget approval process in December.

The Finance Committee has now presented a solution. Management will develop “order of magnitude” cost estimates for priority initiatives for the coming year. Council will review these in September, at the same time as it examines and approves other budget factors.

Members Speak On Climate Change
The APEGGA Member Consultation on Climate Change garnered 1,170 responses in a fall survey, with more than 45 per cent of respondents saying they believe climate change is caused by both human and natural factors. Council had its first look at the report, which it accepted for publication in The PEGG and online.

The Environment Committee document recommends that APEGGA continue to support debate, as well as provide technical and policy advice to government. To this end, the report suggests the Association either host or work with partners to put on a 2008 summit on environmental issues. The Association should also educate members and companies on climate change, it says.

A version of the report without appendices appears on pages 6 and 7 of this month’s PEGG. Find the full report online at www.apegga.org.

Mobility Agreements Face Wording Changes
A mobility agreement for Canadian engineers is getting a wording tune-up to better fit the requirements of inter-provincial trade agreements. At issue is the “notwithstanding clause,” invoked on rare occasions. It allows self-regulating associations to seek further licensure requirements from engineers already licensed by other Canadian jurisdictions.

The Engineers Canada Inter-Association Mobility Agreement, originally signed in 1995, means that in almost all cases licensure by one Canadian association is recognized by another. That makes registration more or less a formality, most of the time.

However, Council heard, it’s always been important that associations retain the right to make sure their own qualifications are met, because of differences from association to association.

Council has approved the replacement of the notwithstanding clause with a due diligence clause, and authorized the President and the Executive Director and Registrar to sign a revised agreement on APEGGA’s behalf.

The proposed new clause reads: “This agreement acknowledges that the constituent associations/Ordre are obligated by their legislation to conduct the required due diligence regarding the qualifications of all applicants to ensure that they meet their licensing requirements.”

APEGGA is also in favour of a due diligence clause being added to the geoscience Inter-Association Mobility Agreement. There are some wording differences in other parts of the documents, largely because there’s an accreditation process for engineering programs but not for geoscience programs.
However, the two documents are considered parallel, and Council wants to keep them that way.

APEGGA Supports National P.Eng. Promotion
Engineers Canada has embarked on a renewed effort to promote the profession in Canada, and it now has the support of one of its major constituent members.

Engineers Canada is seeking $450,000 for the campaign, spread among the 12 provincial and territorial constituent associations. That’s about half the total cost for 2008 — EC itself will look after the rest — and it works out to between $2 and $3 per engineering member in Canada.

The campaign will first focus on parents and employers, as it works on strengthening the P.Eng. brand across Canada. It will complement com-munications efforts of the member associations.

Council supported the intent of the campaign, and the Finance Committee will now look at it further.
Council also decided APEGGA will help Engineers Canada defray the costs of an engineering summit in May 2009, by earmarking $1 per professional engineering member in 2008 and again in 2009. The three-day summit, organized by the Canadian Engineering Leadership Forum, will be “a high-level, high-profile, internationally promoted conference,” says the EC directors’ report to Council.

Set to take place in Montreal, the summit “will provide a venue for the engineering profession to work co-hesively towards developing processes to better serve society.”

The report also said: “The engi-neering profession will engage those who can effect positive change with the goal of identifying engineering contributions towards a healthier, cleaner, safer, more competitive and sustainable Canada in a global society. A better understanding of Canada’s societal trends and determining methods through which the engi-neering profession can respond are of utmost importance.”

The Canadian Engineering Leader-ship Forum is made up of six heavy- hitting Canadian organizations — Engineers Canada, the Association of Canadian Engineering Companies, the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, and the National Council of Deans of Engineering and Science.

New Committee Created For Public Interest Matters
How and when should APEGGA take a stand on matters of public interest? Those decisions will be in the hands of a new committee responsible to Council.

The committee will consider past work by councillors and other groups, and will also

  • develop a proactive strategy and process for collecting and assessing available data on major issues, and advising the APEGGA President and Council on appropriate actions or position statements

  • develop a reactive strategy for doing the same after “tragic occurrences.”

The committee will be made up of the President, two members of Council, two past-presidents, one public member of Council, and three members-at-large.