Inclusivity Initiative Not Representative of ‘Strong,
The seriousness of this topic is made apparent only through
the very forceful writing of some Association members, published
in the last PEGG. Prior to that, Council's attempts to implement
this idea through what I consider dubious tactics had me
I commend those members who have stepped forward to defend
a strong, competent EGG body in this province.
A quick review of APEGGA's website brings out some further
The website mentions ". . . three groups of people who
are qualified to practice . . . but who do not meet the current
requirements for unrestricted professional licensure, primarily
because their academic backgrounds do not meet current requirements." The
sentence is self-contradictory, calling those qualified not
qualified, and saying, in essence, requirements were not
met because they didn't meet the requirements.
The website also says that "many of the individuals
in the groups outlined above are well qualified . . . but
are currently prevented from obtaining licensure.”
I am astonished that Council would make such an irresponsible
statement in such a public manner. How was it decided these
persons are well qualified? Were such individuals, who are
by definition breaking the law, asked to fill out a survey?
Were any actual individuals even identified?
From the AGM overview link we find ". . . the concept
that there is a place inside the circle for all who practice
engineering, geology and geophysics." What was left
out of this statement are the words "even illegally."
Mike Smyth, P.Eng., while president, was quoted thus: "Each
face to face discussion has ended with clear support for
the inclusivity concept." I do not believe this statement
and would ask that Mr. Smyth cease making it for now.
Think of a person practicing surgery without a license from
the College of Physicians and Surgeons. I doubt very much
the College would be wringing their hands and fretting about
the future of this person's career.
Nor would they allow the reputation of the medical profession
to be destroyed in the manner Council seems determined to
inflict on engineering, geology and geophysics in this province.
The initiative should be dropped.
Andrew E. Bizon, P.Eng.
Fact Presentation ‘ Not Forthright’
APEGGA’s executive, including the executive director,
and Council have lost sight of the fact that they are responsible
to the members. Although they are empowered to make decisions
affecting the Association and the profession, this does not
mean that they should do so without a forthright presentation
of the facts and adequate consultation with the membership.
The presentation of the facts should also include an objective
description and analysis of other alternatives considered.
There has been a tendency to portray the facts in a manner
which justifies Council’s positions. The present power-based
approach to governing the Association is unacceptable.
Articles in The PEGG promulgate the views of the executive
and Council and do not present a balanced view of both sides
of an issue. For example, much is written about APEGGA’s
role in protecting the public. The position seems to be that
more members mean more regulated practice which means better
protection of the public.
The United States is a striking counter example to such thinking.
I am aware of no data to suggest the public there is less
well protected than the public in Canada. However, south
of the border only about 15 per cent of practicing engineers
are registered, compared with 70-80 per cent in Canada.
So bigger is not necessarily better. Has Council ever considered
self-regulated models for the professions which might actually
decrease membership numbers by being more specific as to
who must register?
How many members does APEGGA have? The November 2003 issue
of The PEGG welcomed the 40,000th member. This claim and
the accompanying chart are misleading.
The membership includes about 27,000 professional members
(practicing, non-practicing, licensees), 5,000 members-in-training,
3,500 life members and 3,500 university students. The registration
of student members started about four years ago. This new
student category accounts for about 25 per cent of the growth
shown in the chart for the period 1992 to 2002, although
this is not explained anywhere.
When membership data are being presented, the numbers should
be reported by membership category so there is no misunderstanding
on the number of registered professional members.
The inclusivity initiative is the latest example of a lack
of consultation with membership. This initiative grew out
of the discussions at Council’s May 2003 strategy session.
During his term as president, Mike Smyth, P.Eng., liked to
point out that members have been provided regular updates
on this topic in The PEGG.
Unfortunately these updates contained few if any details
on exactly how this was to work. In February, the president
visited all the branches and found the support “very
positive and encouraging” (President’s Notebook,
March PEGG). However, the specific details by which members
could really judge the acceptability of the proposal only
became available in the March issue of The PEGG. This was
a mere six-to-seven weeks before the necessary changes to
APEGGA’s Regulations and the EGGP Act were to be brought
to the Annual General Meeting for approval.
This was far too short a timeframe for member discussion
and input. Is a vote at the AGM even the right approach to
obtaining member approval on such an important issue? Legally,
the answer is yes. However, attendance at this meeting is
typically 100 to 200 members, so 50 to 100 people could determine
a major a new direction for the Association.
Prior to town hall meetings in Edmonton and Calgary, some
individual members and the Board of Examiners tried to point
out that there were problems with the inclusivity proposal.
They were told that they didn’t understand. The recent
ballot for the President-elect and Council was used to promote
the inclusivity initiative and this is quite inappropriate.
There has been a long-standing policy that candidates for
Council could not include a policy statement with their biographical
information. Yet every candidate was asked for an opinion
It almost appears that a pro-inclusivity position was a requirement
to be on the ballot in that there was only one candidate
who expressed any concern. He was nominated by a group of
members, not by the Nominating Committee.
Inclusivity is an example of the kind of issue on which all
members should be provided a vote. This has only been done
once before. The issue was the proposed payment of an honorarium
to the president. This vote only came about after the motion
to implement the honorarium was tabled at the Annual General
Council itself was split on the issue however the Executive
Committee (president, executive director, president-elect
vice-president and immediate past president) was not.
The material accompanying the ballot, in the view of some
members, presented less than a balanced view of both sides
of the issue. The preparation of material accompanying a
ballot on any issue must be done by a group of individuals
drawn from both sides of the issue.
Our elected representatives must behave in the best interests
of all members, listen to opposing views and not belittle
those who hold these views. The process for making decisions
must be transparent and provide ample opportunity for member
input and debate.
Council must be prepared to modify its position based on
such feedback. Major decisions should be put to a vote of
the membership. Where possible, Council should present at
least two fully developed and viable alternatives, in addition
to the status quo, to the membership for a vote.
Dr. K. C. Porteous, P.Eng.
Editor’s Note: After Dr.
Porteous submitted this letter, Council reaffirmed its
support of inclusivity and decided
that the matter will go to a member vote. Council has also
committed itself to consultation and communication beforehand,
with an eye to refining the initiative.
‘Deeply Concerned’ About Initiative
I attended a recent APEGGA town hall meeting and the Annual
General Meeting to listen to and discuss the proposed inclusivity
initiative. I appreciate the opportunity Council has given
the membership to provide input and dialogue into the process.
However, I am still deeply concerned about the proposal,
especially now that it will be put to a mail ballot
Council has made it clear that the reasoning behind the
initiative is to capture a group of individuals that are
operating at the periphery of engineering and make them
members. By having these people as members, APEGGA can
govern their practice. These are foreign-trained graduates
from uncertified universities, graduates from non-certified
engineering programs in emerging technologies, and non-engineer
university graduates working alongside engineers (e.g.
chemists and physicists).
Until the AGM I did not fully understand why the existing
designations (P.Eng., P.Geol., P. Geoph., M.I.T. and R.P.T.)
were not adequate to describe or classify these individuals.
Nor did I understand why there was no intent to have any
form of testing to validate or certify these individual's
At the AGM it was revealed that the P.Eng. designation
is based upon Canadian standards and cannot be changed
to encompass these individuals. What was not said was that
the P.Eng. designation must not be diluted to encompass
By giving these individuals, in essence, the ability to
practice unsupervised, the P.Eng. designation, formerly proposed
to be called R.Eng. (the title is under review due to member
comments.) The main difference is that a P.Eng. self-defines
their practice, within a scope they feel they are competent
to practice, whereas those with a defined scope of practice
written out by the board of examiners.
What seemed to be missed in the entire discussion was that
Council has started with the end result without fundamentally
asking if the end result is required. The end result they
have started with is that a new classification is required.
If you read through all the FAQs and watch the presentations,
the basic question is never asked or answered is, "Do
we need a new designation for unsupervised practice?" I
think if you ask this question, most members would want to
know why this is required, as there are existing means for
these people to become professional members under the current
Foreign-trained graduates and those in uncertified (emerging)
engineering programs can challenge or take examinations
become professional members.
Non-engineering graduates can do the same. It was identified
that under the existing system individuals with no formal
training can also challenge the examinations to become professional
Allowing people to circumvent this system does a great disservice
to those individuals that have taken the difficult engineering
programs at Canadian universities or taken the examinations
to verify their foreign qualifications.
What I find particularly telling about the debate is that
the Board of Examiners is, in general, against this proposal
(it was even suggested that the feeling among the board is
unanimous). Previous letters to The PEGG against the proposal
have not identified that a number of these individuals are
on the Board of Examiners, the gatekeepers of the professions.
The proposal will be put to members in the form of a mail
ballot, but the wording of the proposal so far is undetermined.
As with any proposal of this nature, the wording of the question
can be very important in determining the outcome.
As the ballot will be devoid of discussion and debate (except
in articles published in The PEGG), a balanced presentation
of the merits of the proposal will be difficult for the general
membership to obtain. With all of Council seemingly in favour
of the past proposal, I am not sure how councillors can genuinely
understand or appreciate the extensive opposition to this
I have been pleased with APEGGA’s continuing trend
towards improving the profession through initiatives such
as Continuing Professional Development, Professional Practice
Management Plans for permit holders and other similar initiatives.
I am of the opinion that if Council and the membership takes
the time to consider the basic question, "Do we need
a new designation for unsupervised practice?" that they
will resoundingly be of the opinion that the answer is a
Mark C. Hughes, P. Eng.