Terri-Jane Yuzda


Pension Plan Contribution, Calgary Service Expansion Increase Dues

Editor's Note: Following is a report of the most recent APEGGA Council meeting, held Nov. 28 in the D. A. Lindbergh Conference Centre at APEGGA head office in Edmonton. This was the third meeting in the current Council year. Five meetings are held per year, in Edmonton, Calgary and one of the branch communities. The next meeting is Thursday, Feb. 6, at the new Calgary Conference Centre in the Calgary APEGGA office.

The APEGGA Finance Committee received Council support to increase member fees. APEGGA continues to have among the lowest member fees in Canada, despite providing the greatest range of services and legislative responsibilities for the fastest growing membership in Canada. In 2002, APEGGA registration numbers increased more than 2,000 or nearly eight per cent of membership.

Annual dues will increase $30 per professional member. In addition to covering costs associated with the increased size of membership, APEGGA is using the money to improve Calgary office service, pay into the staff pension plan and react to a number of other upward pressures in the areas of enforcement, discipline and registration. Managers in all departments reduced earlier proposals significantly to help minimize the impact on dues, Council heard.

The increase is in line with what's happening in sister associations across Canada. Other associations are generally looking at annual increases in the five-to-10-per-cent range for the foreseeable future unless they make severe program cuts.

Executive Director Neil Windsor, P.Eng., said few new initiatives survived what was a "very thorough and really zero-based, back-to-basics process." An improved business plan approved in September also influenced the budget. The plan was changed in 2001-2002 to provide increased measurement of the performance of programs to budget and to Council policy directives. Further reductions to departmental budgets would mean changes in policy and cuts in the service levels members expect, Mr. Windsor said.

A significant component of the dues increase is the amount APEGGA contributes to its employee pension fund. The fund's earlier good health had allowed APEGGA to take, starting in 1988, an extended break from making contributions. A formal valuation of the fund in August of this year, however, brought to an end what accountants call a "contribution holiday."

The valuation found that the gap between assets and liabilities is too small, given how volatile the market is and how much pension payments are likely to grow. Employee contributions will increase to three per cent of salary from two per cent.

The new Calgary office and conference centre, plus a new geosciences manager position with support staff, also form a significant portion of the fee increase. "It is long overdue that APEGGA provide a greater presence and service in Calgary where the majority of members, particularly geoscientists, reside," says APEGGA President Ron Tenove, P.Eng.

Payments to the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers increase by $2.40 per member, to help compensate for a major revenue loss at the national level. Council approved the CCPE payment increase in June.

Member dues will bring in $5.99 million of $8.425 million in revenue needed to operate APEGGA in 2003.

New Management Structure Announced

Staff have begun phasing in a new APEGGA management structure designed to streamline operations and spread responsibilities more evenly among managers. Gone will be a line of stand-alone departments, which had seven directors and the deputy registrar reporting to the executive director.

Council heard that under the new design - which has no effect on the 2003 budget - each of two senior directors will be in charge of a major service unit. Those senior directors will report to Executive Director Neil Windsor, P.Eng.

Essentially, the main day-to-day functions of APEGGA will be divided into two areas: regulatory, comprising the work that the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act requires of APEGGA; and non-regulatory, comprising a wide range of administrative, corporate and members services.

Communications will no longer be a separate department. The new structure recognizes communications as an array of services throughout the organization, directed at a wide range of audiences. A manager of communications position replaces the public relations manager position. But because its prime role will be external communications, the new position will be part of the executive director's team.

Budget Restraint Affects Communications Plans

A committee report recommends a series of new APEGGA communications priorities and strategies, in the wake of a communications audit and opinion surveys conducted in 2002. Budget restraint and a new APEGGA management structure, however, mean that many of the recommendations will be delayed or modified.

The Communications Planning Committee report, presented by the committee chair, David Rumbold, P.Eng., synthesized audit recommendations and survey results. The committee gave top priority to an APEGGA rebranding, a process that would more clearly define the image of the Association and its member professions.
However, 2003 budget documents call for a low-cost approach. Several spending recommendations that come out of the report "will have to be drastically reduced, deferred or eliminated due to the necessity of significant expense reductions."

Council passed a motion to receive the Communications Planning Committee report. Council's agenda package also included a draft of the APEGGA Three-Year Communications Plan, which will be debated at the February meeting.

The Prime Minister Responds

Prime Minister Jean Chretien is committed to a workable plan to meet Canada's Kyoto Protocol target - a plan that involves consulting a cross-section of Canadians. That's what Mr. Chretien says in an Oct. 15 response to a letter from APEGGA President Ron Tenove, P.Eng. The APEGGA letter called for a careful, measured approach and full national debate before Parliament ratifies the accord.

"I share your desire to involve Canadians fully in the process of finding workable implementation strategies," Mr. Chretien's letter says. "The government's goal is to develop a workable plan for meeting our Kyoto target, working in collaboration with provinces and territories, local authorities and stakeholders."

The exchange of letters stems from a Sept. 13 Council request. Council asked that Mr. Tenove send a letter requesting "no decision on support of the Kyoto Protocol until Canadians have real information on the content and impacts of ratification and the opportunity to input to a coordinated national strategy."

In recent statements in the press, Mr. Chretien has promised that Canada's plan won't put undue pressure on any regions or sectors, and that Canada's economic well-being won't be sacrificed. His letter to Mr. Tenove contains a similar commitment.

"I am confident that Canadians can work constructively together to find innovative solutions to our climate change challenges that are in the best interests of the country," says the letter. "We would like to continue to work with you and other industry representatives towards our common goal of protecting our environment and ensuring economic growth for future generations."

Appointments and Recommendations

Council recommended three professional members to the board of the APEGGA Education Foundation, and also appointed a member to the Board of Examiners.

Recommended to the foundation board are Connie Parenteau, P.Eng., Alice Payne, P.Geol., and Dr. Dave Devenny, P.Eng., P.Geol. Foundation bylaws require that Council must recommend all its board members before appointment.

The foundation serves the professions by supporting education in a number of ways, such as building endowments, encouraging donations and distributing scholarships and awards.

Council appointed Dr. Mark Loewen, P.Eng., to the Board of Examiners. Dr. Loewen, a professor at the University of Alberta, has bachelor and master of science degrees, and a PhD in civil engineering. His appointment, as an academic examiner in civil engineering, lasts until June 30, 2005.

The Board of Examiners ensures that individuals approved for registration in APEGGA meet standards for admission as defined in the EGGP Act and its regulations.

Drinking Water Position

Alberta's standards are high and its regulations for municipal drinking water "provide a comprehensive program for ensuring safe and publicly acceptable water supply systems," says a new APEGGA position. Still, more and better monitoring and reporting are needed in the systems to make sure those regulations are met and the standards maintained, the position says.

All facilities delivering and producing drinking water in the province should meet Alberta Environment design and quality standards. And the role of APEGGA professionals in building, operating and improving water systems should increase.

Council called for one last tweak, but the third draft of the APEGGA position on drinking water is close to the final version. The Environment Committee drafted the six-page position to give APEGGA's Executive Committee a starting point for discussions with Alberta Government ministers.

Serious incidents of drinking water contamination in Walkerton, Ont., North Battleford, Sask., and other Canadian locales prompted APEGGA to develop the position.


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