APEGGA to Start the New Millennium
With an Updated Code of Ethics

At its Dec. 6-7, 1995 meeting, Council approved a motion "that an appropriate body review the Code of Ethics to clarify the basic principles embodied in the rules and to determine if there should be a hierarchy of Rules of Conduct". The matter was referred to the Practice Standards Committee (PSC), and at its January 1996 meeting, the PSC agreed to establish of subcommittee to undertake the task.

Before dealing with the matter, the subcommittee conducted a brief examination of the codes of several professional bodies and other organizations. The professional codes reviewed included several engineering, survey, and other similar professional associations in Canada and the United States as well as the lawyers', chartered accountants', biologists', planners', and foresters' associations in Alberta. In Canada, the provincial legislatures have jurisdiction over the professions and each profession has its own act of the legislature. In summary, each association is largely self-governing, has the right to establish entrance requirements, maintain standards of practice and knowledge, and to establish and enforce a code of ethics. The code of ethics is usually established as a regulation under their professional statute and thus, in effect, becomes the law. Most of the documents reviewed contained additional explanatory information on specific items in the code as well as sample situations which have been dealt with in disciplinary hearings. The documents reviewed varied in length from a few pages to over 200 pages. The review did not deal with the legalistic aspects.

In summary, the code of ethics (also called rules of conduct) of professional organizations is intended to guide the members in their conduct at all times and primarily with regard to their individual professional roles and activities. The rules of conduct are generally directed to four major areas: (1) their duty to society at large and the public interest, (2) their duty to the client, employers and their employees, (3) their duty as a registered professional, and (4) their duty to the professional association of which they are a member. In addition to being a guide to each member, the code of ethics is an important document used by the discipline committee of the association when they adjudicate on charges of misconduct and the nature of the penalties imposed. A few of the more lengthy documents reviewed also seemed to deal with some of the more business/administrative aspects of the particular profession in addition to the ethical conduct aspect. Generally, the professional associations recognize that the characteristics which mark the calling as a profession and its code of ethics is founded on, trustworthiness, justice, competence, devotion to service and advancement of human welfare.

The formats of the various codes are generally different. More recently a popular format seems to be to firstly identify some fundamental principles or canons. Each canon is then enhanced or explained by five to ten or more rules of conduct applicable to that particular profession and the particular fundamental principle.

The subcommittee has held 12 meetings to date and also consulted with APEGGA Council, the Investigative Committee, the Discipline Committee, the Practice Review Board and the Practice Standards Committee. APEGGA’s legal counsel also reviewed the work and provided comments. Additional meetings are being scheduled with the Investigative Committee and the CSEG/CSPG Liaison Committee. At its November 26, 1998 meeting, APEGGA Council decided that the revised Code of Ethics be published in The PEGG and be opened for comment until Jan. 20, 1999 for consideration at the Feb. 4, 1999 Council Meeting. Depending upon the input from the membership, the updated Code of Ethics could then be presented to April 1999 AGM.

Draft 8 of the Revised Code of Ethics is as follows:

Draft Revised Code of Ethics


Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall recognize that professional ethics is founded upon integrity, competence, dignity and devotion to service. This concept shall guide their conduct at all times.

Rules of Conduct

  1. Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall, in their areas of practice, hold paramount the health, safety and welfare of the public.
  2. 1.1 They shall, in all work for which they are responsible, guard against conditions that are threatening to life, health, or property.

    1.2 They shall, on work for which they are not responsible, promptly report to those who are responsible and, if necessary, to the appropriate authorities, conditions that they recognise as threatening to life, health, or property.

    1.3 They shall notify their employers, clients and the appropriate authorities of the potential consequences if their professional judgement is overruled where health, safety, or property is endangered.

    1.4 They shall have regard for both the short and long-term effects of the applications of professional practices and technologies that affect the health, safety, or welfare of the public and the environment.

    1.5 They shall have regard for health and safety in the workplace.

  3. Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall undertake only work that they are competent to perform by virtue of their training and experience.

2.1 They shall, before accepting assignments, ensure that their clients and employers understand the extent of the members’ professional responsibilities.

2.2 They shall present their qualifications and competence only through factual representation without exaggeration.

2.3 They shall express opinions on engineering, geological or geophysical matters only on the basis of adequate knowledge, experience and honest conviction.

2.4 They shall only sign and seal reports, plans or documents that they have prepared or that have been prepared under their direct supervision and control, or in the case of work prepared by others, after having thoroughly reviewed the work and having accepted responsibility for it.

2.5 They shall engage, or advise their clients and employers to engage, other experts and specialists whenever the clients’ or employers’ interests are best served by such service.

  1. Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall comply with statutes, regulations, standards, codes, by-laws and rules applicable to all work.

3.1 They shall maintain adequate knowledge of the law relating to their area of practice.

3.2 They shall make responsible provision that persons under their responsibility, clients, and employers have knowledge of, and comply with, the laws affecting their work.

  1. Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall conduct themselves with integrity, honesty, fairness and objectivity in their professional activities.

4.1 They shall clearly distinguish between facts, assumptions and opinions in reference to engineering, geology or geophysics in group discussion, public forums or published articles.

4.2 They shall, when issuing public statements and expressing opinions on professional matters, clearly disclose on whose behalf they are making the statements or giving the opinions.

4.3 They shall faithfully discharge their responsibilities to clients and employers, always acting with fairness and justice to all parties.

4.4 They shall present clearly to their clients and employers the consequences if their professional judgement is disregarded or overruled.

4.5 They shall, before accepting assignments, inform clients and employers of any special interests, business connections, royalties, patents, conflicts of interest, or other circumstances that could influence their professional services or judgement.

4.6 They shall not accept assignments from more than one interested party for the same service, or for services pertaining to the same work, under circumstances where there may be a conflict of interest without the consent of the interested parties.

4.7 They shall keep confidential all information concerning a client's business interests and affairs acquired in the course of their professional duties unless the withholding of the information is considered contrary to the safety of the public.

4.7.1 They shall not use their clients’ confidential information for personal gain.

4.7.2 They shall not divulge any confidential findings of studies or actions of any commission or board of which they are members, or for which they are acting, without official consent except as required by law.

4.7.3 They shall not divulge confidential information acquired from former clients or employers unless permission is obtained from the previous clients or employers.

4.7.4 They shall not divulge any confidential information to public authorities unless required by law and then only to the extent required by law. Where any confidential information is disclosed to public authorities, the members shall ensure that their former or present employers and clients are advised of such disclosure as soon as practical.

4.8 They shall conduct themselves toward other professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists with courtesy, fairness and good faith, taking care that credit for professional work is given where it is due.

4.9 They shall not attempt to supplant another professional in an engagement if they have knowledge that the other professional has been retained.

4.10 They shall not offer or accept any covert payment.

  1. Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall uphold and enhance the honour, dignity and reputation of their professions and the professions’ abilities to serve the public interest.

5.1 They shall only advertise in a factual, clear and dignified manner.

5.1.1 They shall not exaggerate their project involvement, their experience, or their level of expertise.

5.1.2 They shall not imply, or publish literature that falsely suggests, the availability of staff and expertise for projects if the arrangements for such staff are not in place.

5.1.3 They shall not make negative comparisons to other competing professionals.

5.1.4 They shall not employ misleading information, self-laudatory language, sensationalism, or anything that diminishes the dignity of the profession.

5.2 They shall advise the Registrar of any practice by another member of the Association that they believe to be contrary to this Code of Ethics.

5.3 They shall not maliciously injure the character or the prospects of business of another professional member or other individual.

5.4 They shall not call into question the professional conduct or technical competence of another professional member without first consulting with that member.

5.5 They shall maintain a special obligation to demonstrate understanding, professionalism and technical expertise to members-in-training under their supervision.

5.6 They shall respect the law in personal conduct and shall not engage in activities outside of their professional practice that may compromise their professional reputations or bring discredit to their professions.

5.7 They shall not violate, or condone the violation of, the human rights of others.

In the interests of effectiveness and efficiency it is important to receive comments directly from the APEGGA membership before proceeding to the next step. Please direct your comments to the subcommittee by e-mail, fax, or mail in care of:

Mr. R.G. (Ray) Chopiuk, P.Eng.
Director of Professional Practice
E-mail: rchopiuk@apegga.com
Fax: (403) 426-1877
Mail: Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta
1500 Scotia Place, Tower One
10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton AB T5J 4A2

In addition to your personal comments in general or in detail on any item it would be most helpful to receive your views on the following:

  1. Level of agreement or disagreement on the documents in general, the hierarchy of the five principal rules, any particular subsidiary rule or rules.

    r strongly agree r agree r don’t know
    r disagree r strongly disagree
  2. Rewording of any particular principal rule or subsidiary rule which would in your view improve the document.
  3. Any changes, additions, or deletions which would improve the document.

We would be pleased to hear from you at your earliest convenience and before the Jan. 20, 1999 deadline as recommended by APEGGA Council.