A Guide to APEGGA'S Discipline Process
Like many other professions, engineering and the geosciences are self-regulated in accordance with an Alberta Government statute - in this case the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions (EGGP) Act. Under the Act, APEGGA ensures only properly qualified engineers, geologists and geophysicists are allowed to practice, and that they do so according to professional standards and a Code of Ethics. By licensing companies providing these services in Alberta, APEGGA also ensures similar high standards of corporate practice. The Association has the power and an obligation to withdraw the right to practice from members found guilty of unskilled practice or unethical conduct.
How the Discipline Process Works
APEGGA's discipline process is designed to maintain high professional standards and deal with situations in which the public's safety or welfare may be endangered. The process is not an alternative to the civil courts. It deals solely with professional and ethical practice. Anyone with a concern about the conduct of an APEGGA member or permit holder is encouraged to contact the Association.
Complainants are required to provide evidence and a written summary of the allegations. Once a complaint has been received in writing, the process is set in motion.
To ensure impartiality, each stage of the process is handled by a separate panel. These panels are composed of members of APEGGA's governing Council, other licensed members, and in the case of the Investigative and Discipline Committees, a public representative appointed by the Government of Alberta.
All complaints are kept strictly confidential. However, a formal discipline hearing is open to the public unless the case being discussed is of a sensitive nature. Information about the professional's conduct becomes public knowledge only if the Discipline Committee orders that its findings be published at the end of a formal hearing.
|Gathering Evidence About Your
If you believe that a member of APEGGA or a permit holder may have acted in an improper or incompetent manner, we would like to hear from you.
APEGGA staff can answer questions about what to expect from an engineer or geoscientist, even if you do not wish to register a formal complaint. They can also verify whether someone is a licensed professional engineer or geoscientist, or a permit holder.
If you decide to lay a complaint, they will review your concerns with you and provide assistance in advising what material is required to support allegations of either professional misconduct or incompetence, or both.
|Investigation of the Complaint
An investigative panel of the Investigative Committee will review the material provided. They may obtain additional information from the person making the complaint, or from other sources, if required. In turn, the investigative panel will recommend to the Investigative Committee as a whole that:
There is also an intermediary step that is offered to the member under investigation when it appears there is an agreed statement of facts that suggests a formal hearing may be unnecessary. The Investigative Committee may recommend to the Discipline Committee that a stipulated order be considered. The Discipline Committee appoints one of its members to serve as a case manager to review the recommendation of the Investigative Committee, along with all material facts. If the case manager agrees with the recommendation, he or she will discuss the matter with the member under investigation, counsel and others, and offer a decision and sanctions to the member. If accepted, this has the same force and effect as an order following a formal hearing. If not accepted, the matter then proceeds to a formal discipline hearing.
|The Discipline Hearing
If the complaint proceeds to a formal hearing, a written notice of the hearing is prepared and served on the member or permit holder, who may hire a lawyer. A panel of the Discipline Committee is appointed to conduct the formal hearing. The Discipline Panel is delegated the same powers as the Discipline Committee and its decision is final.
The hearings are usually held at the Association's offices and follow court procedure, with a court reporter present. Witnesses will be called to appear, and both the complainant and the charged professional will be given an opportunity to speak to the committee or be available for questioning.
At the end of the hearing, the Discipline Panel will examine all of the evidence and testimony presented before reaching a decision. If the Panel finds that the conduct is not conduct unbecoming a member, it will recommend dismissing the complaint and take no further action.
If the conduct under investigation is considered conduct unbecoming, the member will be:
In addition to these sanctions, the panel may impose a fine of up to $10,000 and assess costs of the hearing. Persons whose right to practice has been suspended may be ordered to pass professional or practice standards examinations, complete a course of study or obtain experience in a particular field before having their right to practice reinstated.The Association is committed to dealing with complaints fairly and efficiently.
|A member whose right to practice has been
sanctioned may appeal the decision of the Discipline
Committee to APEGGA's Appeal Board or as far as the
Provincial Court of Appeal in Alberta.
As well, the complainant has the right of appeal to APEGGA's Appeal Board should the complaint be dismissed following the investigation.
|APEGGA ensures that only licensed
professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists are
allowed to practice these professions in Alberta, and
that only licensed permit holders are allowed to provide
engineering, geological or geophysical services.
If you have been offered these services by someone who does not have a license or a permit to practice, this is grounds for APEGGA to take action against that person or company. We would like to hear from you if you suspect you are dealing with an unlicensed individual or firm.