November 2001

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The Art of Gentle Persuasion

Director, Compliance

My October column addressed what happens when a compliance violation is identified. The Compliance Department, in most cases, is able to carry out its mandate by obtaining voluntary compliance through gentle persuasion.

Compliance is usually obtained once the individual or corporation is apprised of the requirements of the EGGP Act. Occasionally, blatant and intentional violations require more aggressive enforcement activity. These cases usually end up in the legal forum.

Two news articles published in previous issues of the PEGG are examples of voluntary compliance obtained through persuasion. In the December/January PEGG, I will publish cases which ended up in the legal forum, resulting in prosecutions.

The following story, in The PEGG, May 2001, ran under the headline: Engineers, Microsoft Agree on Use of MCSE Designation. This is a condensed version.

Microsoft Corp. will advise Canadian holders of its MCSE certification not to call themselves engineers or use the full title Microsoft Certified System Engineers, news releases announced earlier this month. The engineering profession and Microsoft have reached an agreement on the use of the designation, after compliance efforts were initiated more than a year ago by APEGGA's Compliance Department.

Meetings were held last year with the appropriate Alberta institutions -- those that offer the training in computer science that qualifies graduates to write the Microsoft exam, which then leads to the MCSE designation. Attendees were told that the full title of the designation is a violation of provincial legislation, which reserves the use of the terms "engineer" and "engineering" to persons licensed by APEGGA.

That got the attention of Microsoft, and discussions at the national level led to a delegation of provincial association and CCPE representatives meeting with Microsoft in October. This resulted in the solution announced by Microsoft and CCPE.

Microsoft's decision should prevent Canadian holders of the MCSE certification from inadvertently breaking provincial and territorial laws, which protect the public by restricting the use of the titles and the practice of engineering in Canada to licensed professional engineers. It should also ensure that the engineering profession's licensing bodies will not be required to take enforcement action against MCSE holders.

Representatives of CCPE and several provincial associations met with Microsoft in Seattle late last year to explain the legal issues surrounding the use of the title "engineer" in Canada, and to ask the corporation to stop referring to holders of the MCSE credential as engineers.
Microsoft is currently researching alternatives for the MCSE credential worldwide, which could result in a new name for the credential later this year.

Earlier, in The PEGG, January 2001, under the headline APEGGA, Sun Microsystems Reach 'Engineer' Agreement, more good news on the compliance front was reported:

An agreement has been reached between APEGGA and Sun Microsystems Canada Inc. over the use of the word "engineer" in the company's job titles.

APEGGA initiated action against an employee of Sun Microsystems Canada Inc., after learning that the individual -- who is not registered with APEGGA -- was misrepresenting himself by using the word "engineer" in his title.

Following two years of discussion in which resolution by legal action appeared inevitable, APEGGA and Sun Microsystems Canada Inc. have recently agreed upon a resolution as put forth by Sun Microsystems.

Sun Microsystems has undertaken to no longer use the word "engineer" in any job titles used in Alberta, unless the individual to whom the title pertains is a recognized professional engineer as designated by P.Eng., in compliance with the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act.

There is a growing concern within APEGGA and with other provincial regulatory bodies over the proliferation of titles such as "systems engineer" by those who are unlicensed and using the term "engineer" loosely, thereby misleading the public. In accordance with the EGGP Act, an Alberta statute, no one may use the words engineer, geologist or geophysicist in combination with any other name, title, description, letter, symbol or abbreviation that represents expressly or by implication that he/she is a professional engineer, geologist or geophysicist, unless licensed by APEGGA.

Under the direction of APEGGA's Director of Compliance and the Enforcement Review Committee, APEGGA's compliance program intends to give members of the general public confidence that when they retain a person or company using these titles, they are receiving the services of a responsible licensed professional.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How is the investigation of the conduct of non-members and members conducted by APEGGA?

A: The Compliance Department, through enforcement activities, is concerned with the investigation of the conduct of non-members. Matters concerning the conduct of members, are the mandate of the Practice Review Board, the Investigative Committee or the Discipline Committee.

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