BY RON TENOVE, P.ENG.
You will read a number of articles in this issue about the
geoscientists (geologists and geophysicists) in APEGGA. What
do you know about the 4,200-plus geoscience professionals
in Alberta and the 7,600 across Canada?
Considering my career as a geotechnical engineer, until joining
APEGGA Council I was not well versed in the definition and
world of geoscientists. Maybe this is because their world
is "deep" and I was always referred to as an "overburden"
engineer. Perhaps as a group, to our public audiences, geoscientists
are even less visible than engineers, and yet their impact
on our economy and way of life is considerable.
We often associate geoscientists with the resource industries,
the extraction of minerals and petroleum from the earth's
crust. Their ability to "view" formation of and
movements in the earth's crust is both an art and a science,
perhaps even magical. More recently, geoscientists have become
essential contributors to environmental science. We equate
the geosciences with words like gusher, mother lode, geohazards,
earthquakes, water supply and contaminant plume migration.
So what is current in APEGGA with respect to the role of
geoscientists? I will briefly talk about four items:
- Geosciences Task Force
- Alberta Securities Commission "qualified evaluator"
- Licensure Compliance
In 1999, Neil O'Donnell, P.Eng., P.Geol., Elaine Honsberger,
P.Geoph., and others addressed the key challenges that geoscientists
were facing in their relationship with APEGGA. Proposals for
change centered on communication, student interaction, the
registration process and equity in the management of APEGGA.
The goal was to implement actions to reverse the commonly
held perception that being a member offered little more than
compliance with the law and that the model for governing the
engineering profession was not directly applicable to the
geoscience professions. So here's what has happened:
- The Geoscience Liaison Group was established and operates
to address common issues and communication between APEGGA
and CCPG, CSPG, CSEG, CIM and other domains of geoscientists.
- The Board of Examiners provides credit for years of experience
and may waive examinations from those who do have the full
academic requirements for professional licensure.
- Mobility of professionals has been identified as the top
priority for geoscientists.
- APEGGA leadership in facilitating national needs identified
by CCPG is very strong with people like Gordon Williams,
P.Geol., Bob Comer, P.Geoph. and Brenda Wright, P.Geol.,
in senior positions.
- A Manager of Geoscience Affairs will soon join APEGGA
and be located in the Calgary office to better serve the
centre of population of geoscientists.
- APEGGA has prioritized support for numerous geoscience
initiatives, particularly those that facilitate increased
visibility of the profession.
I perceive the primary limitations to achieving the goals
set forth by the task force are those where geoscientists
need to take the lead as volunteers for specific tasks and
present their view strongly to the geoscience audiences.
National mobility is a higher priority for geoscientists
than for engineers. The nature of geoscience work requires
frequent travel to sites in any province or territory. Currently
11 of the 13 provinces and territories require registration
In 2001 an inter-association mobility agreement was signed
for geoscientists, thereby providing greater ease of movement
across Canada. However, geoscientists frequently are requested
to undertake projects in another part of Canada on short notice,
often in multiple jurisdictions, and even the mobility agreement
might fall short of meeting the time available for registration.
Through the combined efforts of CCPE and CCPG, a study is
now underway to determine the feasibility of some form of
national license that would permit practice in any jurisdiction
As an interim measure, Ontario-Quebec have initiated "visitor"
procedures to allow immediate temporary cross-border recognition
over a one-to-three year period, and lenience on the language
requirement until full registration is required. Stay tuned!
As a result of several investor confidence issues in the
oil and gas industries, the Alberta Securities Commission
is introducing new requirements for oil and gas reserve estimation.
When reserves data are reported on, estimates must be prepared
or approved by qualified evaluators who are members of APEGGA,
a Canadian association similar to APEGGA or a similar foreign
body acceptable to the commission.
If the geoscience community, and APEGGA, manage this provision
properly, the profile and public awareness of the value of
a self-governing geoscience profession will be more tangible.
APEGGA is accountable to enforce the expectations of this
Licensure compliance is a significant issue, given that only
55-60 per cent of qualified geoscientists are licensed with
APEGGA. At the recent Calgary President's Visit luncheon,
a professional geologist challenged APEGGA to be much more
aggressive in enforcement of the law.
He viewed our approach to date as weak and forgiving, with
the net result that the law and APEGGA are simply not taken
seriously by many members and non-members alike.
APEGGA has tripled its enforcement budget and dedicated an
individual to the geoscience sector, but geoscientists and
their employers must understand the legislation and apply
moral suasion to those who are not licensed. The Manager of
Geoscience Affairs in Calgary will continue to use the approach
of encouraging people to see the value of professional licensure,
but with the added emphasis that there is no middle ground
once individuals or firms are shown to be in violation of
the laws of Alberta.
We have a strong and vibrant geoscience profession in Alberta,
and APEGGA is making good progress providing the recognition
and programs that our professional geologists and geophysicists
Ballots in the Mail
On a closing note, APEGGA election ballots are in the mail.
There is a rich diversity of skills and dedication in the
list of candidates, so please exercise your responsibility
and use your franchise to build the team you want to govern