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Professional Practice

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.

To ensure fairness and impartiality, a separate committee handles each stage of the process. The Investigative and Discipline Committee and Appeal Board is composed of members of APEGGA's governing Council, other professional members and public represenatives appointed by the Government of Alberta.

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. Similiarly, such open hearing decisions are also available to the public.

Stage 1

Gathering Evidence About Your Complaint

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 unprofessional conduct or unskilled practice, or both.


Stage 2

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 panel will recommend to the Investigative Committee either that:

  • that the complaint be dismissed if it is of the opinion the complianant is frivolous, vexatious or it there is insufficient evidence, or

  • that a formal hearing be held regarding the complaint. In this instance the Investigative Committee will present the complaint to the Discipline Committee to prosecute it.

There is also an alternative available if member under investigation admits to unprofessional conduct or unskilled practice. A formal hearing may be unnecessary. The Investigative Committee may recommend that the Discipline Committee consider a stipulated order be considered. The Discipline Committee then appoints one of its members to serve as a case manager to review the admission and the recommended sanction 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. If the member also agrees, the resulting decision has the same force and effect as an order following a formal hearing. If the recommended sanction is rejected the matter then proceeds to a formal discipline hearing.


Stage 3

The Discipline Hearing

If the complaint proceeds to a formal hearing, a written notice of the hearing outlining the Charges is 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 has 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 testify, and both the complainant and the charged professional will have an opportunity to speak to the panel 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 does not find that the conduct is unprofessional or the practice is unskilled, the charges are dismissed.

If there are findings of unprofessional conduct or unskilled practice, the member could:

  • be reprimanded,
  • face suspension of his or her right to practice for a stipulated period
  • have his or her right to practice cancelled completely, or
  • be ordered to meet other requirements.

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.


Appeals

Both the member and the Investigative Committee may appeal the decision of the Discipline Committee Panel to APEGGA's Appeal Board.

Similarly, a member may subsequently appeal a decision of the Appeal Board to the Alberta court of Appeal.

As well, the complainant has the right of appeal to APEGGA's Appeal Board should the complaint be dismissed following the investigation.


Compliance

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.

 


 

 
 
 
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    Copyright 2004 The Association of Professional
    Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta.
    All rights reserved

    APEGGA HEAD Office
    1500 Scotia One
    10060 Jasper Ave. NW
    Edmonton AB T5J 4A2
    Tel: 780.426.3990    1.800.661.7020 (within North America)
    Fax: 780.426.1877
    E-mail: email@apegga.org

    Calgary Office
    2200 Scotia Centre
    700 2nd Street SW
    Calgary, AB T2P 2W1
    Tel: 403.262.7714
    Fax: 403.269.2787