June 2001

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Geoscientists Reach Inter-Association Agreement



The Dotted Line

(Photo above: Bob Comer, P.Geoph. APEGGA's director on the CCPG board, looks on, after president Dale Miller, P.Eng., (left) and Executive Director and Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng., (right) sign the geoscience mobility agreement.)

Canada's geoscience community has taken an "important first step" towards full professional mobility with the signing of an Inter-Association Agreement last month in St. Andrews, N.B., said APEGGA's director on the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists (CCPG). "This is truly wonderful for the geoscientists of Canada," said Bob Comer, P.Geoph.

The agreement, approved earlier by provincial/territorial associations, gives registered geoscientists from seven jurisdictions the same kind of mobility Canadian licensed professional engineers already enjoy. Three other jurisdictions hope to sign before the end of the year, said Mr. Comer.

APEGGA Executive Director Neil Windsor, P.Eng., said: "This is a parallel agreement to the engineering mobility agreement signed in June 1999. Because many associations license both engineers and geoscientists, it was very much modelled after the engineering agreement, although not identical."

Formal signing of the agreement took place at the Annual General Meeting of the CCPG, held over the last weekend of May. Representatives from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland signed the document. President Dale Miller, P.Eng., and Executive Director and Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng., signed on behalf of APEGGA, while CCPG Board Director Bob Comer, P.Geoph., looked on.

The agreement provides for Nova Scotia and Ontario to sign once final legislative authority is granted. Quebec has a separate association for geoscientists and will require legislative amendments before joining the other provinces, and discussions are under way between the engineering and geoscience professions in the Yukon Territory.

About 7,500 of Canada's geologists and geophysicists, referred to collectively as geoscientists, are licensed with an association. Prince Edward Island does not have a geoscience association. Nunavut geoscientists are licensed by the Northwest Territories association.

The agreement gives licensed geoscientists a uniform procedure for being accepted as professionals and registered with other Canadian jurisdictions. Basically, the professionals will be accepted without any extra requirements if they are in good standing with their home associations, haven't been disciplined in the past, and have no disciplinary action pending. A notwithstanding clause, however, allows a host association to make its own judgment call: it can review the qualifications of any applicant, then reject the application or assign admission requirements.

The agreement was about two years in the making. One of the keys to seeing it happen was a series of meetings to decide the common academic and experience standards the associations would accept to license a geoscientist, said Mr. Comer.

This was no easy task, but one made easier by Dr. Philippe Erdmer, P.Geol., of the University of Alberta, who chaired the meetings. "It was like trying to herd cats. But he did a fine job getting a set of standards everyone could agree on," said Mr. Comer.

Canadian engineers and geoscientists are also beginning the process of improving mobility with various U.S. states. APEGGA, in fact, held a successful mobility forum with Canadian and American representatives to cap off the Annual General Conference in Calgary in April.
Another issue for Canada's associations is incidental mobility. Sometimes, professionals work for periods of only a few days or even hours in another jurisdiction, a matter of particular concern for geoscientists.



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