It has become a tradition for incoming Presidents of APEGGA
to reflect on "the State of the Association" during a question
and answer session.
Q. You have been a member of APEGGA Council for a number of years, first as Councillor, then as 2nd Vice-President, and, this past year, as 1st Vice-President. During that time, have you noted any particular change or evolution in the way that Council and the Association operate?
A. I have noticed some dramatic changes and improvements. I think that this past year has probably been the best year that I have experienced on Council. We have had strong leadership from (Past) President Fred Otto. Council seems more focused and disciplined and effective. One of the prime reasons is the development and adoption of our new governance model. It specifies Council's responsibilities in clear terms - of setting policies and goals, establishing limitations, monitoring progress and results, as well as delegating to the Executive Director and staff how to use the resources of the Association to carry out the intent of those policies.
We have a governance manual which is in final draft form and which will be reviewed by Council. It will be a living document to some extent but it will provide good guidance for Council.
Q. Another important development during the past year was the adoption of a Business Plan. Could you comment on the significance of the Business Plan?
A. If you look at our mission statement, it states that APEGGA will be more than just a regulator and that we will provide leadership. I think that our business plan, which encompasses more than just six policy statements, is providing leadership to a considerable extent above and beyond our core mandate.
The plan is a very significant achievement - if you look at what we've done in moving from where we were four, five or six years ago. It was identified at one of our earlier planning sessions that such a business plan was desperately needed. The plan is, and will prove to be very valuable.
Q. During the last few years, you have been actively involved in a number of specific initiatives. Among them, the development of a new discipline process and the evolution of the specified scope of practice. Could you comment on what's happened in those
areas, perhaps starting with the discipline process?
A. The new discipline process was put into place last summer after the required changes to the EGGP Act took effect on July 1, 1996. It is a bit early to judge, but I understand that it is viewed as a much improved process by those involved on the investigative and discipline committees.
Q. Are there some features of the new process that you believe are particularly beneficial?
A. It requires a much more thorough investigation to assemble all of the evidence that forms the basis for the complaint. It establishes separate and arms-length Investigative and Discipline committees. It retains the important concept of peer review, but has become an open process with public members on the committees and with the formal hearings (with few exceptions) open to the public. Thus, the individual who filed the complaint can sit through a hearing and observe why and how the case was settled.
Q. What about the specified scope of practice, an area that you are familiar with from chairing an APEGGA task force examining the issue? Could you comment on how that process evolved and what potential benefits could result?
A. The specified scope of practice is a concept we have been exploring since 1995. It began with the recognition that some individuals, by virtue of their post-secondary education, combined with a number of years of relevant experience, may demonstrate the capability to practice in a specified area of engineering, geology or geophysics. If so, such individuals could possibly be licensed to practice independently under the EGGP Act. The initiative has been on hold during the past year while President Otto has participated in a series of meetings with the President of ASET and a representative of the Minister of Public Works, Supply and Services.
Technologists and technicians play an integral and very important role on many of our engineering, geological and geophysical teams. I would hope that some form of the specified scope of practice concept would receive support from ASET. I can see this as being of significant benefit to some members of ASET, as well as to our permit holders.
Q. Besides disciplining existing members, when and if appropriate, the Association also has a role in ensuring the designations professional engineer, geologist or geophysicist are not applied improperly. Do you anticipate any extra activity within the enforcement field?
A. Enforcement applies to those who aren't members of our professions. Certainly I would see continued and, if anything, increased efforts in this areA. Our planning session last May reaffirmed our policy to hold paramount the protection of the public. Protection of the public includes our responsibility to take action against the improper use of the terms engineer, geologist or geophysicist and their derivatives. The designation "software engineering" is one area that is actively being addressed.
Q. Another area of intense activity in recent years has been the development of the continuing competence program for APEGGA members. First, why is this program important, and what do you say to those who still have doubts about APEGGA being involved in this area?
A. One of our prime mandates is protection of the public and continuing competence in one's area of practice has to be a key element in this respect. This is an area that is currently being addressed by most of the professions and, I believe, by all of our sister associations across CanadA. The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers and the Canadian Academy of Engineering have provided strong encouragement in this regard. This is an area where APEGGA must provide leadership.
Q. What about the doubters?
A. When the idea of a continuing competence program was being discussed a few years ago, I had concerns that it would involve a lot of paperwork, be very onerous for the individual member, and develop into an administrative nightmare for the Association. In fact, what has evolved is a continuing professional development program that appears to be very pragmatic, fair and simple to administer. The records to be kept by the member will be fairly simple and straight-forward.
To be quite honest, I felt somewhat uncomfortable with this new requirement until I had studied the guideline thoroughly and gone through the process of assessing my own continuing professional development activities over the past year. I would encourage any doubters to do the same. If they still have questions or concerns, they should feel free to discuss these with APEGGA staff.
Q. Historically, this Association has endorsed some member services in fields such as insurance. There has been suggestion that APEGGA provide a wider range of member services. Could you comment on that possibility?
A. A policy statement that came from our last strategy planning session stated that APEGGA would work to enhance the value and relevance of membership. One of the ways of doing this would be to consider increased member services. At our next planning session in May, Council and staff will consider this issue further - should APEGGA arrange to offer increased member services? If so, how far should we move in this direction, i.e. what services may be appropriate, which ones may not.
Q. Could you comment on what is happening at the national level to the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers and the strides being taken toward creation of the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists?
A. For many years, APEGGA pushed for the recognition of geoscientists within the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE). This was resisted by some of the larger associations that currently don't register geoscientists. Instead, CCPE has supported the formation of a somewhat parallel organization, the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists (CCPG), to provide national co-ordination and co-operation in the geoscience professions. A CCPG Implementation Task Force, with members from all but P.E.I. and Yukon, was formed in January 1996 and hopes to have CCPG well established shortly. One of APEGGA's past Council members, Gordon Williams, P.Geol., PhD, has been a major player in this undertaking.
Q. In terms of CCPE, do you see any evolution or change taking place?
A. The CCPE Board met in mid-April to review the mandate, organizational structure and governance model for CCPE. Our national body plays an important role in facilitating communication and co-ordination of constituent association activities and in promoting the national and international interests of APEGGA members. An objective of the review was to make CCPE more effective and efficient in carrying out its mandate.
A vision statement for the Canadian engineering profession has been developed by CCPE. A document outlining the possible role of CCPE in achieving the national vision is in preparation, and should be available for Board consideration shortly. When adopted, the document will most likely lead to some evolution and change.
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