Compliance Extends Beyond APEGGA's Membership

As Director of Registration and Compliance, Dave Todd, P.Eng., doesn't just keep his eye on those already within the APEGGA corral. APEGGA is empowered to remedy and even prosecute violations of the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions (EGGP) Act by persons or corporations not belonging to APEGGA.

The intent of all APEGGA compliance initiatives is to safeguard the public by ensuring that those offering professional engineering, geological or geophysical services are qualified and properly licenced to do so. While APEGGA cannot apply its discipline process to those who are not members, there is a range of actions, up to and including prosecution under the Criminal Code, which can be applied to compliance violations.

Non-compliance can occur in several ways, for instance, when:

Sometimes such transgressions are the inadvertent outcome of ignorance or they may be the deliberate consequence of deceit or fraud. (Please see columns by Enforcement Review Committee Chair Darcie Greggs, P.Geol., in this month's _ this page _ and next month's PEGG.)

Where the parties are unaware that they have contravened the Act, they simply may be asked to desist. For instance, matters may be set right by a "plant engineer", who is not a registered engineer, referring to himself or herself by another label, perhaps "plant superintendent". Or those having the credentials for professional membership in APEGGA could become members and retain the "plant engineer" title. In other instances, engineers or geoscientists living and working in Alberta may be registered with a sister association but not with APEGGA. A letter reminding of the requirement to belong to APEGGA if practicing in Alberta may be all that's needed to obtain compliance.

Along with sister associations across Canada, APEGGA exchanges names of members living outside their respective jurisdictions. Under APEGGA's compliance program, letters are sent to such individuals, if they are living in Alberta, reminding them of the requirement to obtain APEGGA membership if they are practicing in this province, and if they are using "engineer" in job titles or using the designation "P.Eng." Provincial and territorial associations and the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers are co-ordinating efforts to curb and/or prosecute the use by non-engineers (as happened within the computer industry) of terms such as "network engineer" and "certified systems engineer".

Since the hiring in early 1997 of Compliance Coordinator Jo-Ann Marshall, who has a paralegal background, and the hiring a year ago of Compliance Secretary Louise Heron, the Compliance Department has increased its proactive approach to enforcement and has doubled its active files. The same reporting periods late in 1996 and 1998 revealed that the open files had more than doubled from 107 in 1996, to 292 in 1998. This increased activity has resulted in the issuance of Permits to Practice increasing from 34 in 1996 to 72 in 1998. Those corporations that have names which violate the EGGP Act have also been impacted. In 1996, only four corporations changed their name voluntarily versus 21 by Dec. 1, 1998. As for individuals using restricted titles, 12 ceased to use those titles in 1996, with 57 having ceased in 1998; only one completed registration in 1996 but 78 have registered in 1998. APEGGA's current focus on the qualified and unregistered geoscientists is hoped to have the same effect by increasing registration of geoscientists currently practicing without registration. Mr. Todd and his staff follow up member complaints and monitor the Alberta Gazette, daily newspapers and other sources for improper corporate or individual use of the terms engineering, geology or geophysics. Agreements also have been worked out with Alberta's Corporate Registry and the publishers of the Yellow Pages to alert APEGGA when firms using those terms register under the Business Corporations Act or request aYellow Pages listing.Again, the issue may be resolved by the firm changing its name or, where appropriate, taking out a Permit to Practice. Some 80 per cent of compliance cases are fairly straight forward and are handled directly by APEGGA staff.

Mr. Todd compares the enforcement process to bill collecting with consistent follow-up providing the key to compliance.

"Even when there may be some reluctance, when push comes to shove, in most cases an individual or a company will comply," he explains
There are instances when heavier artillery may be needed _ such as prosecution under Section 81 of the EGGP Act, through the Attorney General's Department if criminal offences, such as fraud, appear to have been committed, or through court injunctions to stop illegal practice under Section 9 of the EGGP Act.

Besides providing valued eyes and ears ever-alert to compliance violations, APEGGA's Enforcement Review Committee is a source of support and guidance to staff. This is particularly true, when issues are less clear-cut or when moves to obtain compliance are resisted or require legal action.