The Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists A Reality After Years of Effort

By Gordon D. Williams, PhD, P.Geol.,
Chair, Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists.

For several years, professional associations that license (register) geoscientists in Canada have recognized that a national organization was needed to fulfil a threefold purpose: 1) help coordinate standards and other activities affecting professional geoscientists in Canada; 2) act as a forum through which common issues could be addressed; and 3) represent Canadian geoscientists nationally and internationally.

Until about ten years ago – when the need was less pressing – only two jurisdictions, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, had legislation in place to license geoscientists. British Columbia, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan have since been added to the list of provinces that require licensure, and Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick currently are at various stages of implementing their own requirements. At present, all the professional associations that license geoscientists also license engineers under single combined engineering and geoscience acts of their provincial or territorial legislatures.

National coordination in the engineering professions has been provided by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE) since the 1930s. To address the need for a parallel national organization in the geosciences, the CCPE formed the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists Implementation Task Force in January 1996, to establish a new independent national geoscience organization within two years. The Task Force has now accomplished its objectives and has been discharged, effective Dec. 31, 1997.

The Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists/Conseil canadien des geoscientifiques professionnels (CCPG) was established in March 1997, as a federally chartered not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. It becomes fully operational on Jan. 1, 1998. The CCPG is a completely autonomous body whose members are those provincial and territorial associations that license or certify geoscientists under right-to-practice or right-to-title legislation, or are working towards licensure or certification.

Status of Licensure In Canada
More than 5,000 geoscientists are now licensed as Professional Geoscientists (P.Geo.), Professional Geologists (P.Geol.) or Professional Geophysicists (P.Geoph.) under combined engineering and geoscience right-to-practice legislation in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan. Over the next few years, approximately 10,000 geoscientists will be licensed in Canada as the remaining jurisdictions enact similar legislation. The status in the remaining provinces and territories is as follows:

In Nova Scotia, a bill to establish the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Nova Scotia was introduced in the legislature in 1996, but was subsequently withdrawn because of difficulties between engineers and architects in defining certain areas of overlapping professional practice. Geoscientists have now formed the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia to work with the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia to ensure that combined engineering and geoscience legislation is enacted as soon as possible.

In Manitoba, a new act to create a combined Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba is the result of several years of intense effort on the part of geoscientists and engineers in that province. The act was scheduled for introduction at the fall, 1997, sitting of the legislature but, because that sitting was cancelled, it will probably appear on the spring, 1998, agenda.

In Ontario, the Association of Geoscientists of Ontario has been working with Professional Engineers Ontario to revise that province's current engineering act to incorporate geoscientists. A draft of the new act could be in the legislature by early 1998.

In New Brunswick, a joint task force of the Association of Professional Geologists of New Brunswick and the Association of Professional Engineers of New Brunswick (APENB) recommended joint licensure under a combined act. The task force report was accepted by both organizations and a new engineering and geoscience act is currently being developed. The new act is scheduled to be presented for approval at APENB’s next annual meeting in February 1998.

Geoscientists in Quebec have been seeking professional licensure or certification for almost 30 years, but the body responsible for licensing engineers in Quebec - the Ordre des ingenieurs du Quebec - has not been sympathetic towards combined licensure. The geoscientists' organization, the Association of Professional Geologists and Geophysicists of Quebec (APGGQ), has therefore approached the provincial government directly to provide right-to-title certification. The Office des Professions du QuŽbec recommended several years ago that a new Order be created for geoscientists and given exclusive right to use specified titles under existing legislation. Unfortunately, the legislation as it relates to geoscientists has yet to be proclaimed by the government despite continuing efforts on the part of the APGGQ to encourage them to proceed.

The number of geoscientists practising in Yukon and Prince Edward Island is very small. As licensure of geoscientists spreads to more of the other provinces, the engineering associations in these jurisdictions may well recommend including geoscientists in their acts.

Organization of CCPG
The CCPG is an umbrella organization that exists to serve its constituent geoscience associations, with no power of compulsion over its members or their existing statutory authority. Individual professionals will not be members of CCPG nor will CCPG license or certify individual professionals. Professional geoscientists will belong to their provincial or territorial associations which, in turn, will hold membership in CCPG.

Figure 1 (above) illustrates the current membership of CCPG and, for comparison, CCPE. Most of the constituent association members are common to both CCPG and CCPE or will be when current legislative activity is completed. In the future, geoscientists and engineers will undoubtedly be better served by having a single combined national organization.

The CCPG is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by its Constituent Association members. The initial board, composed of the following individuals representing the charter members of CCPG, held its first meeting on Nov. 10, 1997.

Michel Bouchard, PhD
APGGQ (Quebec)
Timothy Canam, P.Geol.N
APEGG (Northwest Territories)
Bob Leech, M.Eng.Sc.
AGO (Ontario)
Hugh Miller, PhD, P.Geo.
APEGN (Newfoundland)
Philip Reeves, P.Geo., P.Eng.
APEGS (Saskatchewan)
Linda Thorstad, P.Geo.
APEGBC (British Columbia)
Reg Wilson
APGNB (New Brunswick)
Gordon Williams, PhD, P.Geol.
APEGGA (Alberta)

CCPG Objectives
The purpose of CCPG is to assist its member associations by providing a national focus for their activities and concerns. The principal objectives of the CCPG, as listed in its letters patent, are to:

safeguard and promote the present and future interests of the geoscience professions in Canada;
establish and maintain liaison among the provincial and territorial associations and corporations of professional geoscientists in Canada and assist them in

a) coordinating, correlating and standardizing their activities, particularly in the areas of registration of geoscientists, mobility of registered practitioners and interprovincial practice;

b) promoting and maintaining high standards in the geoscience professions;

c) developing effective human resources policies and promoting the professional, social and economic welfare of members of the geoscience professions;

d) promoting a knowledge and appreciation of geoscience and the geoscience professions, and enhancing the usefulness of the professions to the public;

e) promoting the advancement of geoscience and related education;

f) generally carrying out their various objectives and functions;

act on behalf of, and to present the views of, its constituent associations and organizations in matters that are national or international in scope, including international registration or certification of geoscientists and reciprocal practice;

act in respect of other matters of Canada-wide or international nature concerning the geoscience professions, either alone or together with other bodies.

Geoscientists, perhaps to a greater extent than other professionals, often practice outside the jurisdiction in which they are licensed. Increasingly, their practice in Canada spans more than one province or territory, and many individuals work internationally. A priority of CCPG is to facilitate the mobility of professional geoscientists within Canada by encouraging its member associations to make transferring registration from one jurisdiction to another as easy as possible. A further objective is to develop arrangements whereby geoscientists can practice outside their home province or territory for specified short periods without having to become licensed in each of the other jurisdictions where they might work.

The development of reciprocal relationships with licensing or certifying organizations elsewhere in North America and beyond is an explicit objective of the CCPG. In this regard, contact has been made with the American Institute of Professional Geologists and the National Association of State Boards of Geology in the U.S., the European Federation of Geologists, and the Geological Society in Great Britain. Contacts with the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Consejo Profesional de Ciencias Geologicas of Argentina are being developed.

Canadian Geoscience Standards Board
Compatible academic and experience requirements for licensure are prerequisites to easy mobility of professionals, within Canada and elsewhere. To assist its member associations in developing and maintaining such standards, the CCPG has established the Canadian Geoscience Standards Board (CGSB). Composed of representatives of each member association of CCPG, and chaired by Philippe Erdmer, PhD, P.Geol., of the University of Alberta, the CGSB has held two meetings and was scheduled to meet once again before the end of 1997. Its mandate is to:

provide guidance to the constituent associations of CCPG on matters relating to professional qualifications and practice.

publish and periodically update national guidelines and examination syllabi in the geosciences for use by the constituent associations.

develop methods of assessing the extent to which Canadian geoscience degree programs meet or exceed educational standards acceptable for licensure as a geoscientist in Canada and to publish a list of geoscience programs which it considers meet or exceed those standards.

conduct research into foreign geoscience programs to determine the extent to which such programs may satisfy all or some of the academic requirements for licensure in the constituent associations.

ascertain the equivalency of accreditation programs in other countries, recommend mutual recognition agreements with foreign organizations and monitor the activities of those organizations with which mutual recognition agreements have been signed.

The first priority of the CGSB is to ensure that academic and other standards adopted by the member associations of CCPG are sufficiently compatible so that the transfer of membership between jurisdictions by individual geoscientists is not impeded.

Contact Information
The CCPG exists to address Canada’s rapidly growing need for national and international coordination in the geoscience professions. It is committed to inclusivity and to working with its member organizations, the CCPE, universities and learned societies to enhance the professional qualifications and stature of individual geoscientists and the geoscience professions. More information may be obtained by contacting the Council at the following address:

Canadian Council of
Professional Geoscientists
Suite 1600
734 Seventh Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T2P 3P8
Telephone: (403) 232-8511
Facsimile: (403) 269-2787
Internet:http:// (Available Jan. 1, 1998)