The following news items were gathered from the last APEGGA Council meeting, held Sept. 16 in Edmonton. The next meeting is Nov. 25 at APEGGA’s Calgary Conference Centre.

Government Favours Self Regulators

Reclamation certificates mark the official completion of a company’s responsibility for an upstream oil-and-gas site. But right now there’s a backlog of certificate applications at Alberta Environment, resulting in extensions of surface leases and extra industry costs.

As well, problems in the quality of reclamation and remediation work have undermined the public’s confidence in industry and government.

What’s the solution? Turn responsibility over to members of APEGGA and five other professional regulatory associations, Alberta Minister of Environment Lorne Taylor has decided.

In accepting a proposal from the six self-regulators, the minister has endorsed the concept of members signing off and not requiring additional specialist certification, APEGGA Council learned.

However, to handle the demand until the agrologist and biologist associations establish technologist categories of licensure, the various players will develop an interim certification board. The six self-regulators are also developing a joint practice standard, which will define members’ professional responsibilities and practices in upstream remediation and reclamation.

The participating organizations – representing more than 6,000 licensed environmental professionals – are APEGGA, the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, the Association of the Chemical Profession of Alberta, the College of Alberta Professional Foresters, and the College of Alberta Professional Forest Technologists.

Electronic Voting Investigated as Way To Improve Participation

Council and staff are taking a hard look at the virtual universe as a way to get more APEGGA members involved in self-governance.

Right now, only about 16 per cent of eligible members take part in the mail-in Council elections held each year. A much smaller percentage of members attend the Annual General Meeting, which alternates between Edmonton and Calgary each April.

The idea is to increase member participation in votes and polls through the use of computers and software. And the challenge, Council heard, is to do so without eliminating the essential qualities of the old-fashioned way – an audit trail and voter privacy, for example.

If APEGGA uses both the Internet and regular post for elections, the combined system must include a reliable way of validating a member’s right to vote, Deputy Registrar Al Schuld, P.Eng., told Council. It must protect the secrecy of a voter’s choices, and it must provide equal access to voting to all members.

Council discussed the electronic linking of off-site venues to the Annual General Meeting. Systems also exist to allow electronic voting at large meetings.

The Acts, Regulations and Bylaws Committee is looking at how electronic voting and other electronic participation can be accommodated within APEGGA’s governing legislation.

Awareness Emphasized In Dealing With Insurance Issues

APEGGA will focus on awareness and helping members maintain and better the quality of their practices, as a way to improve their risk ratings with insurance companies. Council approved a long list of implementation items that came out of the work of the Insurance Review Task Force, which has held a dozen or more meetings since it was struck a year ago because of insurance troubles facing members.

The problem is that professional liability insurers became leery of engineering firms after significant losses in their industry. For APEGGA members, that’s in some cases meant less selection, higher premiums, greater limitations and more exclusions. Some members have ended up buying policies they don’t want because of the way insurance is bundled.

The task force and Council decided against competing with private insurers by creating a self-insurance system for errors and omissions insurance. So far, the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers has not supported self-insurance, either.

See related stories, Practice Quality Identified As a Key to Better Insurance (page 1 of The PEGG) and A Peer Review Primer for Consulting Engineers (page 24 of The PEGG)

Members Take Part In Selection Of New Logo

Next month, members will have the chance to tell APEGGA which of four logos they think would best represent their Association. APEGGA consulted six focus groups of members on the rebranding of the Association, over the summer, and learned that a logo Council approved in February has only limited support.

Members will rank logos and tag lines in an online and print poll. One of the logo alternatives will be the existing pyramid.

Two of the main underpinnings of the rebranding initiative are the development of a clear APEGGA image and the improvement of communications. Focus groups generally favoured both, Council heard.

Manager of Communications Philip Mulder, APR, and consultants held three focus groups in Edmonton and three in Calgary. In total, members donated about 100 hours of their time to take part in the process.

The five key elements of the brand strategy are that APEGGA
• Focus on members as first priority
• Focus on building commitment
• Focus on building the perception of value and stature of membership and designations
• Brand members and their designations, not the Association
• And practice some targeted communications to engage member segments.

The branding initiative comes out of a communications audit and a member and stakeholder survey, both conducted in 2002.

Members Receive Gas Price Break Through New Service

A fleet card through Imperial Oil will give APEGGA members a 4.5 per cent discount on fuel purchased from Esso service stations. Council approved the new member service over one other proposal, after staff compared the two offers.

The four largest fuel marketers were invited to make proposals. Imperial rated better than the other responding company because of greater savings, a larger number of outlets and its Speedpass pay-at-the-pump system.

The Association uses 14 criteria in selecting a member service. The arrangement must be essentially revenue neutral, for example, and it must not conflict with either the professional image or the not-for-profit status of APEGGA.

APEGGA Updates Statement on Professionalism

What’s so important about professionalism? Plenty, says an updated version of The Concepts of Professionalism – An APEGGA Statement.

“The privileges granted to Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists – self-regulation, technical and professional independence, and the public’s trust – require APEGGA members to uphold the highest standards of professional behaviour,” says the paper. “It is through our daily, individual actions that we can influence the reputation of the professions as a whole.”

Council approved for publication the latest draft of Concepts of Professionalism, subject to editorial changes. The 10-page statement is the updated version of one originally issued in 1988.

“This version takes a more personal, positive and pragmatic view of professionalism, while updating the professionalism model, language, tone and references,” says a report to Council.

Council Reappoints Recycling Authority Representative

By appointing him to another three-year term, Council reaffirmed its support of Al Schulz, P.Eng., as the APEGGA representative on what is now called the Alberta Recycling Management Authority. The management authority grew out of the successful Tire Recycling Management Association, which enjoyed significant success turning worn-out tires into useful products.

New Lease Signed For Head Office

APEGGA’s head office will remain in the Scotia Place building in Edmonton, after staff made “a very good business decision” in negotiating a new 10-year lease, Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng., told Council.

The Association’s Administration Department reviewed other leasing options, “but none of them were as attractive financially as the renewal offer,” said Mr. Windsor.

New Register Builds On Washington Accord

Council approved participation in a second register designed to make it simpler for engineers to move their work into other jurisdictions. The Engineering Mobility Forum Register joins the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Engineer Register on the APEGGA list.

Both registers have identical approval criteria. The newest one, the EMF Register, is designed to increase the mobility of engineers within the Washington Accord signatory economies, as well as a number of other economies. The APEC Register does the same within the APEC region.

The Washington Accord is an agreement signed in 1989 by the bodies that accredit engineering degree programs in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Ireland, the United Kingdom and South Africa. The accord recognizes what’s called the “substantial equivalency” of the accredited programs.
APEC represents more than 20 economies, working together on improving the Asia-Pacific’s economic growth, trade and investment.

Being on the registers doesn’t guarantee an engineer will be registered by other licensure bodies. But it’s not a bad calling card.

The registers provide assurance that listed engineers have a high level of competence. The engineers must have at least seven years of practical experience since graduation, for example, and must have spent at least two years in charge of significant engineering work.

Demand for the APEC Register among APEGGA members has been light, so APEGBC has been looking after Alberta registrations. B.C. will do the same for the EMF Register, at least for now.

Business Plan Extends Into APEGGA Performance

APEGGA’s work stems from the high-minded roles of its self-governing legislation, and that’s always been reflected in the annual business plan. But in recent years, Council has encouraged staff to improve the value of the plan by tying these important ideals to the day-to-day functions and goals of each department.

The latest incarnation carries that philosophy further, to the actual resources necessary to carry out responsibilities and undertake new initiatives. The 2005 plan also follows goals through strategies and actions to actual measurables.

Council took a look at the current draft of the plan, and heard that it meshes with Council’s own strategic initiatives, with departmental performance measures, and with the budgeting process.

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