Chapter 2
History of Geology and Geophysics
Legislation in Alberta

The Beginnings

2.1 The Association known as APEGGA originated in 1920 when the "Engineering Profession Act" was passed by the Alberta Government. It had become evident (not only in Alberta, but in other Canadian provinces and in the U.S.A.) that there was a need to protect the public against deficient engineering practices. Members of the Association were known as "Registered Professional Engineers" or R.P.E.s, and were generally represented on the governing body (Council) under the four branches of engineering - civil, electrical, mechanical and mining.

2.2 An active member of the Association from its inception was Dr. John A. Allan, professor of geology at the University of Alberta since 1912. Dr. Allan, a prominent geologist, joined the Association in 1920 as a Registered Professional Engineer in the mining branch. Besides becoming noted for establishing the Department of Geology at the University and developing the department until his death in 1955, he was very active in the Association during its formative years. He served on Council and became President in 1930. Much of the groundwork for bringing geologists into the Association was due to Dr. Allan.

2.3 Over the next ten years, development of the Association in terms of activities and accomplishments was progressive, both for itself and the public. Although it was not until after the Second World War that positive steps were taken respecting inclusion of the professions of geology and geophysics in the Alberta Act, there are indications of interest and concern as early as 1923. In that year there arose the problem of the right and propriety of a geologist to have the privilege to revise a report he furnished to a mining company, if his subsequent prospecting revealed additional data which could cause him to change his opinion of the ultimate value of the mining property. (The Council decided that the Public Utilities Commission, which controlled stock selling, had the power to preclude possible injustice that might arise in these situations.) The following year, the Association engaged in a publicity campaign to warn the public with respect to reports issued by oil promoters not certified by members (R.P.E.s). The experience of several investors in the Turner Valley oil fields justified this action.

Interest in Geology and Geophysics

2.4 In the late 1920s the discovery of oil in Alberta raised some issues pertinent to the practice of geology. One concerned the matter of differentiating between a mining engineer and a geologist. Both would be registered in the mining branch, but the view was expressed that they were widely separate professions. In 1927 Council decided to adhere to the four basic classifications then existing (civil, electrical, mechanical and mining), but could designate specific subdivisions of each class, and in the case of a member whose exclusive practice was in a particular subdivision in his class, the Council was given power to include this speciality on his certificate and seal. For geologists, the speciality would be "geology". Another issue related to an influx of geologists connected with oil drilling operations in the province. A sufficient number joined the Association to give them representation on the Council under the mining branch.

2.5 The definition of "Professional Engineering" in the Act published in 1922 included (in Schedule A) the words "Investigations relating to the examination, exploration and development of rocks and minerals, mineral deposits, rock structure and the application of geology to the industries of arts, or to engineering". In the amendments of 1942, this had been changed to read: "Geological and other scientific investigations relating to the examination, exploration and development of rocks and minerals, mineral deposits, rock structures and their application to industry". This amendment suggests the beginnings of relevance to geophysics.

2.6 In 1941 increased activities by oil companies in seismic and gravimetric exploration work led to four companies making representations to Council in connection with licensing of foreign engineers brought into Alberta. Council decided that party chiefs in seismic, gravimetric and other similar types of work be required to take out licenses.

2.7 Under the "Engineering Profession Act, 1930" and the revised Act of 1943, it was possible for geologists and geophysicists to be registered as members of the Association, provided they satisfied certain requirements and had certain qualifications. They were however designated as "professional engineers".

Geologists Included in Engineering Profession Act

2.8 The matter of separate identification of geologists in the Association began receiving consideration in 1953 as a result of representations from geologists who wanted separate representation on Council and who stated that many of them were unhappy with the designation of Professional Engineer. Council took steps to ensure a geologist member was formally represented on Council.

2.9 In June 1954 the question of relationships between geologists and the provisions of the Engineering Profession Act began receiving considerable attention. There was a "large gap between the professional geologist, working in pure geology, and the engineer, and many geologists were loathe to call themselves 'engineers'". At that time the Alberta Society of Petroleum Geologists (ASPG) had a membership of approximately 700, many of whom were not aware of the facilities available to them under the Engineering Profession Act. Membership of geologists in APEA was only 195, however. (There were an estimated 1,000 geologists in the province.) A separate professional act for geologists appeared an unlikely and difficult prospect, and the Council encouraged continued cooperation and liaison with the ASPG including having more geologists join the Association. A committee was established and met with ASPG including on it J. S. Irwin, P. Eng., a prominent consulting geologist and Past President of the Association, and Dr. H. H. Beach, P. Eng., Chief Geologist of Texaco Exploration Company and member of Council. At the meeting more members were encouraged to join APEA, and it was pointed out that geologists were included in the Engineering Profession Act at their own request some years ago. Efforts were directed towards regulation of the practice of geology as well as engineering, and in 1955 a revised Act (although it was still entitled "The Engineering Profession Act, 1955") was introduced as an "Act to regulate the Professions of Engineering and Geology". In this Act a new definition of "professional engineering" or the "practice of professional engineering" included references to discovery, development and utilization of natural resources of materials and energy, and to application of the principles of geology. The academic qualifications for membership now included graduation from the University of Alberta in geology as well as engineering, or from a university approved by the General Faculty Council with respect to its program in geology.

2.10 The new Act also provided for twelve members of Council compared to the former eight, and Council named two additional geologists as representatives. One of these was Dr. J. C. Sproule, a consulting geologist who was elected President in 1957.

New Act - Formal Regulation of Geology and Geophysics Professions

2.11 By 1956 it was evident that geologists and geophysicists continued to be displeased with the terminology of "Professional Engineer" being applied to them. In March 1956 the Board of Examiners, who had been licensing geophysicists (as engineers), questioned whether they should have a separate syllabus for examinations. The Association's Act and Bylaws Committee was authorized to study the classification of professional scientific fields within one Act, with priority to the situation regarding geologists and geophysicists and the use of separate designations. Representations were received from the chemists and foresters for inclusion in the Act, but in the course of deliberations by the Committee and development of amendments to the Act, only the designations for geologists and geophysicists were considered.

2.12 The proposed revisions were discussed at the 1959 Annual Meeting, and reviewed again over the next year. The report of Dr. G. W. Govier, P. Eng., Chairman of the Act and Bylaws Committee contains the following statement:

The Executive of the Association has recently had several very satisfactory discussions with groups representing the Alberta Society of Petroleum Geologists and the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists. The most recent of these discussions occurred on March 2nd when the Association Executive had the pleasure of meeting with a Special Committee on Legislation formed of representatives from both of the above Societies. I have subsequently been assured that the representatives on that committee have reported back to their Societies indicating support for the Association in the matter of revisions to the Act. There is now absolutely no opposition from these groups.

The revised Act - an "Act to regulate the professions of Engineering, Geology and Geophysics" was assented to in March 1960. Its title was changed to "The Engineering and Related Professions Act".

2.13 The major additions and changes to the Act, resulting from the wish to include geologists and geophysicists under separate designations, were as follows:

  • The inclusion of definitions for professional geologist and professional geophysicist and the practice of these professions.
  • Representation on Council to consist of a minimum of two professional geologists and one professional geophysicist.
  • Introduction of professional affairs committees to represent each of these professions and advise Council thereon.
  • Inclusion of approved geophysics programs in the academic qualifications required for registration (geology programs had been introduced in the 1955 Act).
  • Use of the abbreviations, for the first time, of P. Eng., P. Geol. and P. Geoph.

The name of the Association remained as APEA, and because of the difficulty in getting agreement among the membership, it was not changed to APEGGA until a number of years later.

2.14 At that time (1960), there were approximately 300 geologists and 150 geophysicists in the Association out of a total of some 3,000 members. A proposal to change the name of the Association to reflect geophysicists and geologists as well as engineers received considerable discussion at the 1960 Annual Meeting, but action was deferred to a later date. There was also concern that the new Act would require geologists to join the Association, but the ASPG were informed that Council's policy regarding enforcement would remain unchanged i.e. that registration of employees would be encouraged but not insisted upon. In response, the ASPG stated that it recognized that future Association managements would not necessarily be committed to retaining the moderate degree of enforcement. Similar concern was expressed by the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG); (both the ASPG and CSEG had set up committees to study the revised Act). The concept of "total registration" was not endorsed, but the CSEG, in accepting Council's policy of moderate enforcement, also recognized that the attitude of future Councils might change.

Reclassification to P. Geol. and P. Geoph.

2.15 Following passage of the new Act, steps were taken to have geologist and geophysicist members of the Association reclassified from professional engineer to professional geologist and professional geophysicist. Records of all members were accordingly reviewed by the Board of Examiners to determine, on the basis of original registration by qualifications in geology or geophysics, those that should have their designation changed. Letters were sent to all members informing them of the Board's policy:

1. Those registered on the basis of both educational and experience qualifications in geology (but not geological engineering) would be immediately reclassified as P. Geol.

2. Those registered on the basis of both educational and experience qualifications in geophysics would be immediately reclassified as P. Geoph.

3. All others would remain classified as P. Eng.

4. The above was subject to appeal by the member. Some members, for example, may not have been fully qualified, but had qualifications close to P. Geol. or P. Geoph, yet were not reclassified.

2.16 Some members were concerned that on reclassification they would not be permitted to do work of a professional engineering nature. This prompted Council to issue a statement affirming that past policy would not change i.e. that a reclassified member could continue to practice in his original fields provided he was qualified in the fields concerned as required by the Code of Ethics.

Reaction of Geological and Geophysical Community

2.17 The professions of geology and geophysics can be considered to have been legally recognized in Alberta in 1955 and in 1960 respectively. Although at that time (1960) the two societies ASPG and CSEG supported such legal recognition, there continued over the next 20 years an undercurrent of opposition among segments of their membership to such recognition and to registration in APEGGA. Some registered geologists and geophysicists were also dissatisfied, although the majority were strong supporters of legislation, under a single Act, which included regulation of the practice of geology and geophysics as well as engineering. Some of the reasons behind the opposition were:

Protection of the public was viewed as being less of a basis for regulating geology and geophysics practice than engineering practice.

  • The academic requirements for registration were viewed as being unnecessarily restrictive.

  • Geophysicists and geologists employed in industry (large oil companies for example) saw little need for formal registration.

  • The aspirations of geologists and geophysicists in the professional as well as the technical sense would be met adequately by the ASPG and CSEG.

2.18 In 1959-61 the APEGGA Public Relations Committee was actively involved in discussions with the ASPG and CSEG with the aim of enhancing liaison and cooperation with these two groups. The committee endeavoured to explain the role of the Association with a view to encouraging registration. These kinds of activities and discussions continued over the next 20 years.

2.19 In October 1980 the concerns of many geologists and geophysicists were publicly expressed at a joint meeting of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (ASPG had changed its name to CSPG in 1973) and CSEG held in Calgary. At that meeting, approximately 800 geologists and geophysicists heard members of a panel speak for and against registration under APEGGA. From the ensuing discussion, a number of alternatives emerged, and an eight-man committee composed of professional geologist and professional geophysicist members of APEGGA, with Dr. Gordon D. Williams, P. Geol. as chairman, was formed to examine these alternatives. The committee's report of 1982 recommended several actions to correct the problems and alleviate the concerns, including that the CSPG and CSEG establish a standing committee to work with APEGGA on these matters on a continuing basis. It also recommended that the situation be reevaluated in three years' time by the standing committee with the objective of recommending one of two courses of action:

1. Continue the legislation with APEGGA under a common Act of the legislature.

2. Lobby the Provincial Government to establish an Earth Sciences Act for the professions of geology and geophysics to be administered by an independent earth sciences association.

The standing committee was established in 1983 (see paragraph 2.23). However, during the process of introducing the revised Act in 1981, it became clear that government would not entertain a proposal for a separate act, and the second course of action was not pursued.

1981 - Revised Legislation Introduced

2.20 At about the time the above committee was active, a new Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act was being prepared. A revised Act had been presented to Government by APEGGA in 1975, but deferred in light of the 1978 Government paper "Policy Governing Future Legislation for the Professions and Occupations". During preparation APEGGA was required to justify continued legislation governing the professions of geology and geophysics, with the probable alternative of having no legislation at all for these two professions. The new Act was proclaimed in July 1981 and included, among other items, specific clauses on scope of practice and use of the titles respecting geology and geophysics (as well as engineering). A Practice Review Board, with powers similar to those of the Discipline Committee, was introduced. This Board included in its membership a professional geologist and a professional geophysicist.

2.21 At about the time the new Act was being drafted, it was evident that the Association's enforcement activities over the past few years had deteriorated and the number of discipline cases was increasing. Council therefore established a task force to study these matters in depth. The task force, chaired by Dr. Cal R. Evans, P. Geol., made a number of recommendations about APEGGA establishing definitive policies regarding enforcement of the Act and upscaling enforcement activities generally. Formation of a second task force to deal specifically with enforcement was recommended and put into effect by Council. Based on the report and recommendations of this second task force, chaired by Duncan A. Carswell, P. Geoph., Council decided that the Association would implement an active enforcement program having the same level of importance as registration and discipline. Reasons for this decision were:

1. The public can have confidence in the expertise and ethics of members when the title and practice provisions of the Act are enforced.

2. One of the reasons the Association was established and given certain responsibilities was to enforce these provisions.

3. Registration and discipline are only partially effective if enforcement is not actively carried out.

2.21 The revised Act introduced in 1981 contained more definitive provisions on scope of practice of the three professions and use of the title engineer, geologist and geophysicist. It should also be noted that more active enforcement was one of the recommendations of the Williams' committee on professional registration (of geologists and geophysicists).

Geology and Geophysics Liaison Committee Established

2.23 The recommendation of the Williams' committee that a joint committee be established was adopted in early 1983. Following a series of restructurings, it was designated as the CSEG/CSPG/APEGGA Liaison Committee.

2.24 The Liaison Committee held a series of meetings over the 1983-86 time period. Several issues of significance and concern to geologists and geophysicists were brought forward and acted upon:

  • Registration of geologists - the CSPG proposed a Canada-wide accreditation system as a standard for measuring academic requirements for registration, similar to the system for engineers. The proposal was generating attention and discussion by the Canadian Geoscience Council and other organizations. (See Chapter 6)

  • Registration of geophysicists in Alberta - the academic requirements for registration were perceived as being unduly narrow. This issue evolved into development of a revised geophysics syllabus of examinations which was drafted by a specific subcommittee of the Liaison Committee. (See Chapter 4)

  • Scope of the practices of geology and geophysics and exemptions from these practices by certain persons needed better definition. Amendments to legislation were at that time being prepared, and further revisions proposed by CSEG and CSPG were included.

  • Enforcement - the active enforcement program that was being implemented following the Carswell report (paragraph 2.21 above) was considered to be unnecessarily severe against individuals and companies reported to be engaged in the practice of geology and geophysics. This concern led to a modification of enforcement procedures against such individuals and companies. Several potential enforcement cases were placed on hold by APEGGA while these procedural modifications were being developed.

2.25 The CSEG/CSPG/APEGGA Liaison Committee has proven an effective mechanism for dealing with the concerns of professional geologists and geophysicists within APEGGA. It remains in being as a viable entity with its major objective being: " To review, with APEGGA, issues of concern relating to the practices of geology and geophysics as regulated by, and administered under, the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act, and to strive for the resolution of such issues for the general improvement in the standing of these professions within APEGGA." Complete terms of reference are contained in Appendix A.