Presidential walk-about happens each year starting in February,
and this year is no different. In recent weeks I have enjoyed
the hospitality of APEGGA branches in Red Deer, Cold Lake,
Lloydminster, Fort McMurray, Peace River, Hinton, Grande
Prairie, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. Edmonton and Calgary
are the last two stops on the tour in March.
So what is happening out in the branches? Without exception,
right across Alberta, things are very good indeed. A robust
economy, a positive attitude, opportunities for growth, young
people getting married, buying houses and starting families – these
are all very good things to see.
After a brief update on our discussions with ASET over the
past year, the main subject of discussion in each branch
has been inclusivity. You may have read or heard something
about this initiative by now; it has generated quite a lot
of interest, and not just within our own membership.
Last month I reported in this column that we will bring
forward to the Annual General Meeting in Edmonton proposed
changes to the Act, Regulations and Bylaws to allow the creation
of a new category of membership within APEGGA. Registered
Geologists, Registered Geophysicists and Registered Engineers
will be licensed with a defined scope of practice.
They will be required to have a four-year university degree
and four years of professional experience acceptable to our
Board of Examiners. They will have to pass the Professional
Practice Exam, just like every other APEGGA member, and will
be subject to our Code of Ethics, discipline process, and
Continuing Professional Development program. They will be
able to vote and serve on our Council.
In short, they will be professional members of APEGGA, with
the restriction of practicing within an individually defined
Questions and Answers
After summarizing the highlights of what inclusivity is
and what it means, and how we reached the unanimous consensus
among our Council and senior staff last spring that this
is the right thing to do, several questions always pop up.
Some of these questions follow.
• “Are we lowering our standards?” is
usually the first question. The answer is no. In fact, just
the opposite. We are not lowering the bar, we are lengthening
the bar to include many people who up till now do not fit
the standard mould, but really should be licensed. We concluded
that it is better to have people who are practicing our professions
licensed and subject to our high standards than to have them
practicing with no licence at all.
• “How will the public distinguish between a
P.Eng. and an R.Eng. with a defined scope?” They will
not have to. Once you are licensed, either in the Professional
category or the Registered category, you are responsible
and qualified to practice.
The public will not necessarily know the difference. What
the public will be assured of, however, is that Registered
members – R.Eng. R.Geol. and R.Geoph. – will
have a different stamp that spells out an appropriate defined
scope of practice.
• “Who will qualify for R.Eng., R.Geol., R.Geoph.?” People
practicing our professions with a non-conventional background.
We expect three main types of people will qualify. Immigrants
to Alberta who graduated from a university that is not on
the list of universities deemed to be equivalent to a Canadian
university. Those in emerging disciplines such as biomedical
engineering, where there are no accredited engineering programs,
or the programs are just now being started. And finally,
people who have a science degree or something similar and
apply that knowledge in a profession that looks much like
• “How many people will qualify?” This
is hard to say, but in the Registered Professional Technologist
(R.P.T.) category, which we have had for five years now,
we have just over 100 people registered. Realistic projections
for this new category are in the same range, perhaps a hundred
or so after five years.
• “Will these engineering and geoscience practitioners
be second-class citizens in APEGGA?” No. They will
be professional members of APEGGA. They will vote, be able
to serve on Council, be subject to our discipline process,
and be required to meet our CPD requirements, just like every
other responsible member of APEGGA.
• “What do the other provinces think about this?” We
have kept the other provinces informed and sought their input
from the beginning. Last September at a meeting of the Canadian
Council of Professional Engineers in Ottawa we presented
the framework for this new category and received positive
feedback from our sister associations across the country.
• “What does our minister, the Hon. Clint Dunford,
Minister of Human Resources and Employment, think of this?” Our
minister believes we are on the right track and has been
• “Will public safety and well-being be impacted
in Alberta?” Yes. It will be improved. Over a year
ago we asked a simple question of ourselves. We asked, “Do
we need to be more inclusive to continue to protect the public
safety and well-being here in Alberta?”
The overwhelming and resounding answer to that question
was “YES!” What has resulted is a way to improve
public safety and well-being by licensing people who should
A Compelling Case for Change
Change is always difficult, especially for a group of generally
conservative-minded people such as us. Personally, I lean
toward keeping things the same in virtually all aspects
of my life as much as I can. Consistency is comforting.
However, when there is a compelling reason for change we
must take action.
The discussion on inclusivity started just over a year ago.
APEGGA Council created the Licensure Task Force to review
this question and to prepare a discussion paper for the strategy
session in Kananaskis last spring. The unanimous conclusion
among our Council and senior staff that day was that there
is a compelling motive to do this: improved public safety.
The lnclusivity Task Force deliberated long and hard on
the details. We included input from key stakeholders, such
as people who have immigrated to Canada, and people who practice
our professions but do not have a degree in engineering or
geoscience. We included several members of our Board of Examiners
to ensure that the resulting framework would be workable
at a practical level.
The feedback from the branches we have recently visited
has been very positive and encouraging. They have asked all
the right questions, demonstrating that the level of interest
is very high.
The comments I hear back are all very positive: “It’s
the right thing to do”; “This is very progressive”; “ It’s
about time”; “ This sounds very fair.”
The discussion to this point within the organization has
been honest, detailed and with a very high level of understanding
of what is intended and why. We have had clear, open and
full dialogue over the past year with many people who will
be impacted, directly or indirectly.
And the dialogue continues. In addition to the visits to
each and every branch in Alberta, town-hall-style meetings
are planned to discuss this and other topics in Calgary and
Edmonton. Dates and locations appear in the notice on this
Plan to attend if you wish to learn more or have any questions
that have not been answered. Or, you can always drop me a
note with your questions, comments or concerns. Together,
we can make a difference.