May and June are always busy months on the APEGGA calendar,
and this year was no exception. Two of the events that
take place in May are the CCPE (Canadian Council of Professional
Engineers) Annual General Meeting and the CCPG (Canadian
Council of Professional Geoscientists) Annual General Meeting.
In addition to the Annual General Meeting and the associated
stewardship of the activities of our national bodies, the
events provide an opportunity for the presidents of the 12
national engineering and 10 geoscience associations to meet
and exchange perspectives on issues of current interest.
A topic that almost every association is concerned with,
from one perspective or another, is the future of our professions.
All of our associations are granted the privilege of self-governance
by our provincial or territorial government, and all are
subject to guiding principles similar to these:
1. Protect and promote the public interest by regulating
the practice of the professions.
2. Establish reasonable and effective requirements for registration,
such that only competent practitioners are licensed.
3. Recognize the right of competent practitioners to become
licensed and practice their professions.
4. Establish and maintain standards of competency and conduct,
including fair and equitable discipline processes, and continuing
5. Enforce exclusive scope of practice and right to title
There is inherent in the concept of self-governance an understanding
that the public interest is better protected if the practice
of selected professions is governed by the professions themselves
and only licensed individuals take responsibility for the
practice of these professions. The public, and the professions,
are all better served when all practitioners are licensed
and subject to the same codes and standards.
With the continuing evolution of our professions, individual
associations are finding that it is increasingly difficult
to license the broad spectrum of practitioners of the professions
and fulfill the expectations of their governments. Thus,
there is concern about the future of the professions.
In some jurisdictions this is showing up as a decreasing
fraction of the graduating classes following through and
obtaining professional licensure. In some, it is increasing
numbers of unlicensed individuals being hired by companies
to work alongside licensed professionals. In some it is
increasing pressure by unlicensed practitioners – technologists
and others – to become identified as qualified persons
in demand-side legislation.
In most of these cases, the individuals are practicing “under
supervision,” which means a licensed practitioner somewhere
is taking responsibility for the work, so there is no violation
of the governing legislation.
The Evolution of Licensure
In all jurisdictions it is clear that the approach to licensure
must evolve to meet the changing needs of competent practitioners
and the public that relies on the associations to protect
their interest through effective regulation of those practitioners.
The common concern is that, to the extent that individuals
engage in the practice of the professions without being licensed
to do so, the effectiveness of the model of self-governing
professions is undermined.
As you know, APEGGA Council has been trying to deal with
this challenge by creating a new category of membership
that would enable licensure of individuals with non-standard
academic backgrounds for practice within a restricted scope.
The new category would, in concept, be parallel to the
existing Registered Professional Technologist categories
and would allow competent practitioners an alternate route
to licensure. The qualifications for the new category would
be determined and assessed by the Board of Examiners.
There has been significant concern expressed about this
concept, and APEGGA Council has committed to revisit the
proposal over the next several months. As a first step,
Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng.,
President-Elect Larry Staples, P.Eng., and I met with the
full Board of Examiners in late June. We were there to
explain the concept, and to understand the concerns of
the Board of Examiners from two perspectives – as
members of the Association, and as the group that would
implement the proposed category.
The discussion was very useful, and I thank the board for
the clear feedback. As one result of the meeting, we have
committed to work with a subgroup of the board to examine
what terms and conditions would be appropriate for the
new category, and to discuss how it might be implemented.
Another working group of Council will be reviewing and clarifying
the case for change, including consideration of alternate
models, pros and cons, costs and benefits.
In the fall Council expects to review all information gathered
to date and conduct a formal risk assessment of the proposal
prior to bringing a revised proposal back to the general
membership and key stakeholders for comment. Further revisions
may be made after this consultation phase, if needed.
The matter would go to a mail ballot for formal approval
only after Council believes that a general consensus has
been reached, possibly in the spring of 2005.
There have been many concerns expressed about the original
proposal – in The PEGG, through forums and directly
by e-mail. At this point, further discussion of the original
proposal provides little value, given that the proposal
is under review.
That being said, I welcome constructive comment at any time,
and would be pleased to hear from you on any matter of concern.
You can now e-mail to me at email@example.com, and I look
forward to hearing from you.