Enforcement-We All Have A Role To Play
By Dennis A. Lindberg, P.Eng.
APEGGA is the largest self-governing professional association in Alberta and the third largest of the engineering associations across Canada. We are mandated under the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions (EGGP) Act. This Act grants our membership the privilege of self- governance, including exclusive scopes of practice and rights to title. This is a privilege that all members should understand and value. It is not something to be taken for granted.
Serving the Public Interest
Self-governance with exclusive scopes of practice and rights to title are granted by government only where the public interest is clearly served by doing so. It follows therefore that the prime responsibility of APEGGA is to the public. The public must be able to clearly distinguish between those who are governed by professional legislation and those who are not.
The first of six policy statements arising from our Council planning session held last May, states: "APEGGA will hold paramount the protection of the public." Our Mission, which was adopted several years ago, is: "To serve society by regulating, enhancing and providing leadership in the practice of the professions of engineering, geology and geophysics."
Regulation includes the core areas of registration, practice review, practice standards, discipline and enforcement. All are aimed at protection of the public. The first four are directed toward our members. Enforcement activities are directed primarily toward non-members. The objective of enforcement is to protect the public from the confusion and risk which could result from the improper use of the terms engineer, geologist or geophysicist and their derivatives.
APEGGA has always had an active enforcement process to ensure that non-registered or non-qualified persons (including companies) do not:
a) engage in the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics, or
b) hold themselves out as qualified to engage in the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics.
Full Compliance Is Aim
In support of these principles, Council has directed the Enforcement Review Committee to strive for 100-per-cent compliance with the requirements of the EGGP Act.
As evidenced across Canada and the United States, active vigilance and consistent follow-up by the professional associations is a neces-sity. For instance, there is a growing frequency of the misuse of the terms "Software Engineer" and "Certified Network Engineer" by those who have no engineering training whatsoever. On this front, following unsuccessful discussions in an effort to resolve two cases of non-compliance, the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE) is currently initiating legal action against Memorial University and Novell.
In Alberta, APEGGA's Enforcement Review Committee commonly has an active case load of about 150. In 1996, there were 124 new cases and 108 which were resolved. In most cases, compliance was achieved through strong persuasion and by drawing attention to possible trademark violations. A few cases have required court action to obtain compliance.
Members Can Help
The Enforcement Review Committee can only deal with the cases that come to its attention. Here, all members and permit holders have a responsibility and role to play. All situations of non-compliance should be brought to the attention of the committee for action. These may show up in yellow pages, newspaper advertisements, business cards, job descriptions or position titles. They may, on occasion, show up in proposals written by our permit holders where the term project engineer, geologist or geophysicist is incorrectly applied to an individual who should be identified by some other title, such as project manager.
We do not serve society or our profession if we are careless in the use of, or in the enforcement of our legislated rights to title.
The public must be able to clearly distinguish between those who are governed by professional legislation and those who are not.
Enforcement activities are directed primarily toward non-members.
Active vigilance and consistent follow-up by the professional associations is a necessity.