APEGGA and Others Address
The Future of Our Professions


APEGGA President

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 education programs.

5. Enforce exclusive scope of practice and right to title provisions.

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.

Concerns Raised
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, and I look forward to hearing from you.

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