Terri-Jane Yuzda


Alberta and APEGGA: An Issues Roundup

APEGGA President

We await the decision from our minister, the Honourable Clint Dunford, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, on our Inclusivity Model and the future of APEGGA and ASET, and we also plan our celebrations for our 40,000th member. While this goes on, I have found time to reflect on what the future might hold for APEGGA, as well as some other issues facing us here in the Province of Alberta.
We are at a crossroads of our professions, one that presents us both a challenge and an opportunity to move forward with vision and leadership. Our professions are changing and so too must APEGGA change if we are to remain relevant to our members and be better able to serve the public.

Opening our doors to those who do not qualify for full professional licensure, but who could practice independently with some restrictions similar to the R.P.T. concept, would be a major step in building the engineering and geoscience teams. Most of these people are already working in industry side by side with licensed professionals. Recognizing their skills through appropriate levels of licensure and membership in APEGGA is the next logical step to recognizing the reality of today, and tomorrow.

Insurance Issues

Insurance is a very hot topic and we continue to watch with interest how the provincial government is handling this difficult and complex subject. APEGGA members are facing the same types of issues with professional liability insurance, and APEGGA has struck a task force to study and make recommendations to Council, much as the Alberta Government has done.

There are no easy answers, but we are examining self-insurance as a way of providing a better and more affordable product to our members in order to continue to protect the public well-being.

Excellence in Education
While not directly related to our professions, learning and education have long been recognized as key to our long-term success, especially in math and science. This week past I had the pleasure of participating in APEGGA's Excellence in Education Awards event in Calgary, in which we honoured both students with scholarships and teachers with awards of excellence.

I also read with great interest the long-anticipated report of the Alberta Learning Commission, which had the benefit of APEGGA Council member Jack Hole, P.Eng., as a member. Jack and his fellow Learning Commission members have done an outstanding job.

Electrical Deregulation
Electricity deregulation is a subject near and dear to my heart, having served on the Minister's Advisory Council on Electrical Deregulation for the past two and a half years, along with several other APEGGA members. While it is still a work in progress, two very positive steps are about to happen.

The first is that utility companies directly serving residential and small commercial customers will be regulated by the AEUB, effective Jan. 1, 2004. Up until now they have been regulated by the city that owns the business.

The second is that the policy for new transmission, which is still a completely regulated industry, is about to be clarified. We are in need of new transmission facilities in Alberta, and we need to strengthen our connections into other jurisdictions to increase security and reliability of the entire system.

Election Season
Election time is soon upon us, and I was reminded of that this week at the APEGGA Life Members' Dinner in Calgary. Among those recipients in attendance and relating stories of their long and varied careers was retired Senator Nick Taylor, P.Geol.

A federal election this spring, followed by municipal elections next fall and a provincial election presumably in March 2005, and our own Council election in April, will make for a very busy time for those of you involved in democratic governance. I know that many of our members are directly involved, not so much in politics as in governance, so keep up the great work.

The Oilsands Challenge
Last, but certainly not least, I have finally had time to turn my mind to a very tough problem indeed. The economy of Alberta has always been tied to the development of our natural resources, and thousands of our members have helped make the dreams of the people of Alberta come true.

Plans to double the output of the oilsands over the next 10 years will require the efforts of many engineers and geoscientists in Alberta, and many, many others. However, the costs to develop these resources and the industry's ability to manage and deliver these world-scale projects have recently come under question.

Questions asked in company boardrooms about our work will potentially slow development plans and have an impact on the next round of oilsands mega-projects here in Alberta.

I should emphasize that we have received no complaints about any of our members on these issues. Our investigative and discipline process is fundamental to our ability to ensure that public safety and well-being are protected.

APEGGA wants to know if clients have concerns about the quality of work being offered by professionals, or if there are any suggestions that instances of unskilled or unprofessional practice have occurred. These issues seem to be much bigger than any one member, but may affect us all.

I don't know where the answers to this problem lie, but I do know that together, as we always do, we can find solutions. As we have done on electricity, and learning, as we will do on insurance, as we have proposed to Minister Dunford with our Inclusivity Model.

The right answers to tough problems are always there. We simply have to find them. Drop me a note with your concerns, comments and ideas. Together, we can make a difference.

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