March 2002

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Permits to Practice
Also Required Under Act

A Company May Be Just as Responsible
as a Licensed Employee

Editor's Note: Following is the regular column of the Compliance Department of APEGGA.

Director, Compliance

Since the inception of this column in the July 2001 PEGG, we have discussed these issues:

  • · Why does APEGGA have a Compliance Department?
  • · Exclusive use of titles.
  • · What happens when a compliance violation is identified?
  • · The process of obtaining compliance under the EGGP Act.
  • · Examples of compliance obtained through persuasion and legal action; and
  • · APEGGA Council's objective to achieve 100 per cent compliance with the EGGP Act.

It is generally well known in industry and by the public of the requirement for individuals to be registered in order to practice or hold themselves out to practice engineering, geology and geophysics in the province of Alberta. It is not as commonly known, however, that the EGGP Act also requires partnerships, corporations and other entities that practice these professions to hold permits to practice.

This article is a brief overview of the permit and will be followed by subsequent articles on administrative details.

The permit to practice, as we know it today, has been a requirement by APEGGA for more than 30 years. It was first proposed in 1965, legislated by APEGGA Council in 1968, and enforced with consultants until 1981, when Council decided to extend it to include both consultants and operating companies.

The purpose of the EGGP Act, and of APEGGA, is to protect the public. It was felt that such protection should be provided for all engineering, geological and geophysical practice, including practice within corporations, municipalities, and other entities. If a pipeline blows up, public safety is at risk, whether it was designed by a consultant or employees of a utility.

Who Requires A Permit To Practice?
The EGGP Act requires that partnerships, corporations and other such entities which practice the professions have a Permit to Practice. The EGGP Act does not differentiate between size of a company or whether the company is practising for internal or external reasons. It is really quite straightforward; if you are practising, you require a Permit to Practice.

Why Is A Permit To Practice Required?
It is an instrument of quality control through which the Association exercises its mandate under the EGGP Act to influence the quality of professional practice conducted within the organisational structure of a corporation. The permit holder is a corporate member of APEGGA bound by the same Code of Ethics as an individual professional member of the Association.

The impact on the public of engineering undertaken within an operating company is the same, giving rise to the same concern with public safety as might arise from a consulting engineering, geological or geophysical firm.

Given that corporate interests may be inconsistent with professional ethics, without a permit to practice, the members could find themselves in situations where their duty to their employer conflicts with their duty to the profession and the public interest.

The organization must have a responsible member or members who are registered with APEGGA and are either an employee or member of the firm. The responsible member declares on the permit to practice application form that he/she is a professional member or licensee of APEGGA and as a full-time employee or member of the firm, undertakes to provide responsible direction to that portion of the professional practice performed by the organizational unit described on the application form. Upon approval of the permit application a permit number is assigned to the company.

The meaning of the permit number is commitment that:

a) The corporation maintains an organization which allows skilled, professional practice to be carried out;
b) The work is carried out by skilled professionals, qualified by virtue of training and experience, to practice in the field of the professions contained in the documents;
c) The business of the corporation is carried out in accordance with the Code of Ethics;
d) Sufficient quality control procedures are in place to reduce errors or omissions in the technical content, resulting in a complete and accurate document; and
e) Corporate professional responsibility for the integrity of one or more professional stamped documents comprising the total project.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Does an individual, who is a professional member or licensee of APEGGA, and who engages in the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics in his own name require a permit to practice?

A. An individual can practice as a sole proprietor. Their personal registration is, in effect, their permit to practice. If this same individual practices through a company, then the company requires a permit to practice even though the member is the only employee.

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