By Trevor Maine, P.Eng
APEGGA Director of Communications
One of the common questions posed to APEGGA Council members, volunteers and staff is "What do I get for my $155 fee?" or a variation "What does APEGGA do for me?"
Fundamentally - The Licence
Clearly, APEGGA exists for the purpose of regulating the professions of engineering, geology and geophysics. Therefore, the prime value that APEGGA members receive for their fee is the licence to practice one of the professions in Alberta and the prestige associated with professional membership. Practicing the profession means being able to take professional responsibility for engineering, geological and geophysical work.
Non-licensed individuals may contribute to such work but if they are not registered as a professional with APEGGA they cannot take responsibility for the work or call themselves a professional engineer, geologist or geophysicist. Legislative provisions include a right to title, so it is illegal for someone to represent himself or herself as an engineer, geologist or geophysicist if not registered.
If you know of a situation where someone is violating this right to title provision, or of engineering, geological or geophysical work being done by individuals who are not licensed or working under the direct supervision of someone who is licensed, we would like to hear from you. APEGGA's compliance group will pursue violations of the legislation. Members have expressed concerns that APEGGA is not aggressive enough in enforcing the legislation. This activity is being reviewed to determine if it should be enhanced.
Supporting Professional Practice
APEGGA provides assistance to members through the development and publication of practice standards and guidelines in areas like establishing a consulting practice, contract employment and environmental practice. The recently introduced Continuing Professional Development Program provides encouragement and assistance in preparing for the future by maintaining and improving skills. PD seminars and conferences are being offered to supplement programs offered by technical societies and industry.
There are continuing efforts to improve the ability of members to work in other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world. Reciprocity agreements are negotiated on a national and international basis. Government activities are monitored provincially and nationally to identify and influence issues that may effect the practice of members.
Networking opportunities are provided through district and branch activities. New skills and experiences can be obtained through participation as a volunteer in a wide range of Association activities.
APEGGA's discipline process is in place to deal with unskilled or unethical practice by members. Although the number of discipline cases is small relative to total membership, it is in the interest of all members that the process is available and used to maintain the standards of professional practice. Members play a key role in this process by identifying instances of unskilled or unethical practice and filing a complaint to initiate an investigation.
Excellence in professional practice is recognized by the Association through the Summit Awards® program. Members are also nominated for other provincial and national award programs. The value of the contributions of engineers, geologists and geophysicists in Alberta is promoted through public awareness and school outreach programs. A scholarship program recognizes and assists students entering engineering and geoscience programs.
For many years APEGGA has made various services available to members. Whether APEGGA should offer any member services or expand services greatly is the topic of continuing discussions. Members hold opinions that span the full spectrum of possibilities. The majority of opinions support making some member services available as long as they don't compromise the Association's regulatory responsibilities and meet certain criteria. The criteria established by Council for determining which services are appropriate include that it is: available to all members; competitive; essentially revenue neutral to APEGGA; maintaining integrity and professionalism; and enhancing the value of membership.
Member services fall into three general categories. They are: sponsored programs, endorsed programs and programs provided by APEGGA.
Sponsored programs are those that have been created by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE). Companies are hired by the CCPE to market and administer the programs but the assets of the plans are generally under the control of the CCPE. If the company hired to administer the program does not have acceptable performance, or goes out of business, the program is moved to another company for administration. Sponsored programs are:
Group RRSP Plan Manulife Financial (1-800-268-6689)
Group Life Insurance Manulife Financial (1-800-268-0195)
Group Disability, Extended Health Care, Personal Accident, Dental and Business Overhead Insurance
Aetna Life Insurance (1-800-661-3300)
Endorsed programs are programs that APEGGA or the CCPE have reviewed and endorsed. The assets of these plans are not under the CCPE's control but contractual arrangements have been made to monitor performance. Endorsed programs are:
Professional Liability Insurance ENCON Insurance Managers (1-800-267-6684)
Home & Auto Insurance Meloche Monnex (1-800-268-8955)
Small Business Insurance Meloche Monnex (1-800-268-8955)
Auto Leasing or Purchase Plan Royalty Auto Sales & Leasing (1-800-667-2886)
Auto Rental Discount Budget Rent-A-Car (Produce group member card, which is available through APEGGA offices, at participating locations across Canada)
APEGGA also provides programs that relate to the employment of members. A résumé referral service is administered by APEGGA that matches the résumés of members seeking employment to inquiries from potential employers. Limited free space in The PEGG and on the website is also available for members and employers to post employment ads.
Another APEGGA program is the Annual Salary Survey. This survey provides members with information on annual salaries by level of responsibility and industry and includes information on non-salary compensation.
It's not possible to identify every activity that is undertaken on behalf of members in this article. Association staff and more than 500 volunteers continue to work in many areas to ensure that the privilege of self-governance is maintained for engineers, geologists and geophysicists in Alberta, that high standards are maintained for professional practice and that the public, government and industry recognize the contributions of APEGGA professionals.
APEGGA welcomes your comments and suggestions on any topic covered in this article or on any other matter relating to the Association.