January, 2001

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Membership Dues
Nudged Upward in
2001 APEGGA Budget

The first increase in membership dues in two years will help APEGGA keep the books balanced in 2001, Council decided in approving the budget Nov. 23. The 2001 budget grows to about $6.46 million, compared with last year's $6.13 million.

A $20-per-member increase will cover cost increases and allow for several new initiatives. Membership dues in 2001 increase to $185 for individual professionals from the current $165.
APEGGA will put extra emphasis on advocacy, communication with members, compliance, and public awareness of science and technology. A capital budget of $250,000 will cover computer equipment upgrades, office renovations, furniture and equipment, and audiovisual equipment. APEGGA's staff grows by two positions in 2001 -- Administration department increases by one person because workload has grown, and Communications by one person because of the extra communications push.

More Permit Teeth, Less Cost

Council passed a series of motions to make permits more affordable and relevant. Council heard recommendations that arose from lengthy examination at the committee and sub-committee levels. The motions supplement major changes made over the last several years -- and hint at more to come.

When the process began, the permit system was viewed as "a toothless old tiger that collected money and did very little else," said Mark Lasby, P.Eng., of the Regulation of Corporate Practice Task Force. Some councillors and members have even questioned whether the permits were necessary at all, since employees who are members already have to meet APEGGA standards and adhere to its Code of Ethics.

But Council heard several compelling reasons to retain the permit system. For one, sometimes firms themselves are owned or managed by non-members. A permit reiterates the standards demanded of professional engineers and geoscientists. Also, under law an incorporated company is treated as separate from its owners and staff, so it needs to be recognized as professional, too.

Requirements added over the past few years, such as mandatory continuing professional development and proactive practice reviews, haven't solved all the permit system's problems. But they did add some teeth, Mr. Lasby said.

For small, one-person firms, the burden of paying membership dues and paying permit fees falls on the same shoulders. Yet for larger companies, the permit fees have historically been the same amount.

The larger companies have a different concern. They have in-house professional practice management plans that often go beyond what APEGGA requires under its PPMP, so they've been reluctant to send all their professionals to the seminars, once every five years.
Council responded by requiring at least one member working for a company to attend the seminars, providing:

* That the permit holder's Professional Practice Management Plan covers all of the topics addressed by the APEGGA Permit to Practice seminar, and includes provisions of appropriate training;

* That the exemption application is submitted in writing on the form prescribed by APEGGA; and

* That the application is accompanied by a written affidavit signed by a responsible member for the Permit to Practice, stating that the training program covers all the seminar topics and includes provisions for appropriate training.

Council also decided to reduce annual fees by 50 per cent if a permit holder employs only one professional member and its gross revenues don't exceed $250,000. Application to become a permit holder becomes less costly for all companies, because dues for the first year are now included in the application fee.

At the same time, Council bumped up the annual fee for permit holders to 150 per cent of the dues paid by a professional member from 125 per cent.

How Much Oil Was That?

The Alberta Securities Commission fears overly optimistic reporting of oil and gas reserves could mislead the commission and the public. The way to make sure professional evaluations come up to an acceptable standard of accuracy, says the ASC, is to create guidelines for petroleum evaluation engineers.

If APEGGA doesn't respond with regulating criteria, the ASC will be forced to look after itself -- and leave the professional association out of the loop, Council heard.
Responding to the ASC's concerns, however, could just be the beginning for APEGGA, several councillors cautioned. Others said it's inevitable that, as professions become more specialized, APEGGA's various regulatory roles need to respond appropriately.
Council took the first step by endorsing the concept of enhanced regulation of petroleum evaluations. Staff must now develop the necessary administrative details, together with the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers and the Alberta Securities Commission.

More Insurance Possible for Members

If a new national program succeeds, APEGGA members will be insured beyond the normal scope of their work. Council decided to make the new supplementary professional liability insurance mandatory for members -- but only if the majority of associations and members across Canada do the same to keep the cost acceptable. The program will ensure that the public is protected in the event that a member's normal liability insurance doesn't apply.
If all associations fully participate, the cost for the insurance would be $5.90 per member, council heard. If fewer than 10,000 members voluntarily participate across Canada, the cost would be far less palatable, at $40 per member. Coverage is $100,000 per claim or $250,000 per project, plus legal fees.

The insurance covers situations beyond those in primary insurance -- liability after retirement, liability in over-the-fence advice or work beyond regular employment, and liability after an employer closes its doors. Also covered are legal fees incurred by a member in defending against a false claim made against him or her.

For the first year, the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers would pay the premium. After that, costs would be billed to the associations, and APEGGA would recover its costs -- estimated at $180,000 a year -- through membership fees.

Naming Names Made Official

Should members' names be published after they've gone before the discipline committee? It's a delicate issue that, until the last Council meeting, hadn't been finally decided.
Now, the direction from Council is clear: the editor of The PEGG will be instructed to publish the results of discipline hearings and stipulated orders, with names, but only after the expiry of the appeal period or the completion of an appeal.

"I believe there was clear desire of previous Councils to have all discipline cases (including stipulated orders) published with names," said First Vice-President Dale Miller, P.Eng., in his report to council. "I also believe it was Council's desire to have the regulations modified to include this."

CPD Delinquents Risk Suspension

Continuing professional development is not to be taken lightly, Council emphasized at its last meeting. In fact those members who don't file their annual CPD reports or fail to meet minimum requirements risk being suspended from APEGGA, Council decided.
The members will be "subject to an administrative process similar to that which is currently used to address non-payment of fees," the Council motion reads, "anticipating that if CPD program deficiencies are not remedied, the delinquent member will be suspended."

Should the Prez be Paid?

It's a lot of work and the pay's rotten. APEGGA's president, holder of the highest elected position, is paid for expenses only -- even though the position demands about 50 per cent of a normal work year. It's enough that some presidents have suffered financially for the good of their profession and association, Council heard.

But before considering a motion to institute an honorarium, APEGGA will find out what members think, the Honorarium Task Force suggested. Council gave a sub-committee the go-ahead to seek stakeholder input before the item returns to the agenda.
See related information on Page 10 of this month's PEGG.

Education Foundation Role Clarified

APEGGA's Education Foundation has received some re-emphasis of its roles and responsibilities, and some encouragement to take its work in certain directions. Council passed a series of recommendations concerning the arms-length organization.

APEGGA retains full authority over the scholarships it finances. The number of transfer scholarships will remain at the current level and the education scholarship will continue. APEGGA encourages the foundation to create additional scholarships and enhance the value of existing APEGGA scholarships, but not to duplicate.

The association is prepared to delegate to the foundation the selection of APEGGA scholarship recipients, once the foundation is ready and able to do so.
Scholarships funded by APEGGA will continue being named after APEGGA. Council requests that the name also appear in any future scholarships or awards the foundation creates, wherever possible.

Council requests that the foundation submit an annual report and that the foundation's board of directors meet with the APEGGA Executive Committee at least once a year to ensure continuous dialogue between the two bodies.

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