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,
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
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
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 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
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.