Inclusivity Reaffirmed


In the wake of town hall meetings and vocal opposition, Council unanimously reaffirmed APEGGA’s commitment to the controversial idea of a new category of defined-scope licensure, April 23. However, the inclusivity initiative will not move to the Alberta Government for legislative changes unless a mail-in ballot of eligible members gives the Association the go-ahead.

In fact, Council committed the Association to a consultation and communication phase, and voiced a willingness to engage members in debate on the proposed category. One thing that’s already decided is that the three title names will be different from those proposed earlier and will not contain the words “engineer, geologist or geophysicist.”

The new categories are for practitioners who don’t meet the established academic qualifications for full professional licensure. However, these are people who are already practicing and they have a combination of academic and experiential background that gives them the skills to work in a specific area of practice. Although many of them are supervised by licensed members, that isn’t always the case.

Specifically tailored scopes would be approved by the Board of Examiners in a process similar to the one now used for registered professional technologists. This would bring these practitioners into the self-regulatory fold of APEGGA and make them subject to the discipline process, the Code of Ethics and mandatory Continuing Professional Development. It would also allow them to work unsupervised, but only within their individual scopes of practice.

Council believes the new categories are clearly part of APEGGA’s duty to the public. In fact, APEGGA’s role, as laid out in the Mission Statement, is to regulate the practice of engineering, geology and geophysics – regardless of what kind of degree practitioners have.

It’s clear that members don’t like the earlier proposed titles Registered Engineer, Registered Geologist and Registered Geophysicist.

“The title issue is so hot that at our first town hall meeting (in Calgary), at least half of the questions were from people who were very, very concerned about the use of the word ‘engineering,’ ” said Mike Smyth, P.Eng., in the last Council meeting of his presidential term. The title was also discussed at length at the Council table, he noted.

“Because we’d already moved away from the names, there was a whole different level of questions at the second town hall meeting (in Edmonton),” said Mr. Smyth. He fielded member questions at both meetings, held in late March before about 300 people combined.

Other than title, questions and concerns generally centered on:

• Rationale. Why would APEGGA want the new categories and why doesn’t it improve enforcement of the EGGP Act instead?

• Qualifications. There’s a worry that unqualified or less-competent people will be licensed, reducing the quality of professional practice.

• Increased job competition.

• Communication and consultation. Members want more time and more opportunity to comment.

Council maintains that the new category would not lower the licensure bar. Rather, the bar would be extended for work in specific scopes only, and would not give the new licence holders the same broad approval to practice afforded a P.Eng., P.Geol. or P.Geoph. The category recognizes persons who are practicing the professions and brings them under the umbrella of a regulatory body, APEGGA.

However, the terms and conditions of the new category need to be defined through consultation with key APEGGA members and stakeholders. Additional discussion with the Board of Examiners will also be required before the details can be finalized.

Council has asked APEGGA staff to prepare a consultation and communications plan for approval at the June 24 meeting of Council.

Several Canadian jurisdictions have categories of limited licensure, similar to what APEGGA proposes. The Association will prepare a comparison and analysis of the licenses to help guide Council.

The initiative received a strong endorsement from Gordon Sterling, P.Eng., the outgoing president of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers. Mr. Sterling, in Edmonton for the APEGGA Annual Conference, attended the meeting of APEGGA Council.

“This is the way to go. It’s the wave of the future, and I compliment APEGGA for being a leader in this area,” said the CCPE president.

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