Strategy Session Tackles Pressing APEGGA Issues
BY GEORGE LEE
Advocacy is intrinsic to the varied work APEGGA already does and can't
be placed elsewhere. New certification categories are not necessary right
now -- there are other ways to address specialization. But professional
practices need to be redefined.
These are among the key findings of APEGGA Council and its executive committee,
after a strategy planning session in Jasper in May. New and mid-term councillors
had the chance to get to know one another, meet staff, learn more about
their association, and jump right into a handful of the major issues before
Three questions awaited workshops of councillors, executive committee
members and staff:
* Can APEGGA appropriately fulfill a dual role of protecting the public
while acting to promote the welfare and status of professional members?
* Should APEGGA institute qualifications that are additional to basic
P.Eng., P.Geol. and P.Geoph.?
* What needs to change in the APEGGA practice definitions to address issues
Advocacy Doesn't Mean Union
The advocacy workshop, led by Past President Sue Evison, P.Eng., found
that the real purpose for APEGGA is public protection and the well-being
of the professions as a whole. Although APEGGA offers a wide range of
member services, its role is generally not the welfare of professionals
APEGGA should not negotiate salaries, for example, or perform other duties
associated with unions. But the advocacy APEGGA is involved in -- such
as lobbying for better legislation to protect the public and striving
to make it easier for APEGGA professionals to work in other jurisdictions
-- does not conflict with its self-regulatory and disciplinary roles.
Neither should APEGGA follow the lead of Ontario, by creating a separate
advocacy organization, Ms Evison's group recommended. Noel Cleland, P.Eng.,
spoke strongly against the experience so far in Ontario, where engineers
are now represented by two groups. The voluntary advocacy body has the
support of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, yet the
two often do overlapping work.
There doesn't appear to be a strong call for a union-style advocacy association
in Alberta. Still, APEGGA needs to make sure members know what the association's
role is and how APEGGA works for them. Coun. Nima Dorjee, P.Eng., spoke
of a "disconnect" with the membership, which needs to be addressed.
Many members don't know what they get for their annual fees, he said.
The workshop group said council may want to form a task force to watch
what happens in advocacy in other jurisdictions and come up with a direction
for APEGGA. Getting the message out must play a major role, but so must
listening: participants said that APEGGA needs to find out what stakeholders
consider "value" in the association, and whether there needs
to be an increased APEGGA effort.
APEGGA may need to conduct a statistically valid survey to answer that
question, participants heard.
So far, new professional titles are not the way to deal with specialization
and certification, a group led by Coun. Bill Roggensack, P.Eng., PhD,
found. The key remains that professionals do their work within the disciplines
they are qualified for, through training, experience and education.
And APEGGA needs to take a proactive, heads-up approach, the strategy
session heard, by anticipating what future demands will be. For example,
water quality and intensive livestock are hot topics right now.
Disciplines within the professions often have overlapping boundaries,
the group reported. Members said a call for specialization is usually
from an outside "driver" -- such as public concern, government
concern and, in a recent situation involving petroleum reserve evaluations,
even the Alberta Securities Commission.
APEGGA needs to react quickly to issues of competency and ethical conduct.
The association should develop and implement improved education of the
public and the professions on qualifications and competency, the value
of the professions, and other areas.
Mr. Roggensack's group also called for more enforcement and discipline,
particularly in recognized problem areas.
The current practice definitions have served the professions and APEGGA
well -- but they're dated, said a group on definition and scope led by
Coun. Ron Triffo, P.Eng. Provincial legislation is clear that APEGGA has
the power to increase registration, saying professionals must register.
"We've got all the teeth in the world," said Mr. Triffo.
Who should be registered? It's simple, the group said. "If you are
eligible to registered -- you are in. If you are not eligible -- not registered."
Although Council policy calls for 100 per cent compliance, in reality
85 to 90 per cent of eligible engineers and only 60 per cent of emerging
technology engineers are registered. The numbers are similar in the geosciences.
Something needs to be done to improve the numbers, the workshop group
The group called for a redefinition of scope of practice, refined practice
definitions, a revised Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions
Act to include the change in definition., and an outline of compliance
As Simple As All This (CUTLINE HEAD)
Coun. Bill Roggensack, P.Eng., PhD, turned to the overhead to help strategy
session participants picture the issues of specialization and certification.