Dan Motyka Responds

President Dan Motyka, P.Eng., shares his thoughts on some issues facing APEGGA and the professions.

Q. As you take over the APEGGA presidency, are there any particular areas that you see appropriate to be singled out for attention by Council or the Association?

A. One objective I would like to help APEGGA accomplish over the next year is to improve its relationship with the geoscientists, and the other constituents of the engineering team — which includes the technologists and technicians.

Furthermore, from my visitations to the Branches on Dennis Lindberg’s behalf in the last couple of months, I better appreciate the difficulty associated with APEGGA’s members understanding what APEGGA does. I believe that a majority of our members consider Council and APEGGA to be an irrelevant dinosaur, worried about regulation of the profession, the registration/disciplinary process, and unless you are a traditional engineer that you have no relevance whatsoever. That is a very serious issue.

What we would like to do is get back to the basics, to understand what APEGGA’s role is with respect to protection of the public, which is very clearly its primary role. We want to ensure that our members fully understand the value of self-governance and the merits associated with it. This will ensure that our members communicate effectively to the public the value of engineering and geoscience and thereby become more relevant to the larger portion of our engineering and geoscientific membership.

Q. As a Councillor, you spent considerable time helping to develop and implement a new governance model adopted by APEGGA approximately two years ago. Could you comment on how you feel it is working and the particular strength or benefits of the new approach?

A. I’m absolutely delighted with the acceptance of the recommendation that came from the Roles and Responsibilities Task Force. On that task force we had a very dedicated, diverse group who clearly outlined the roles and responsibilities of members of Council, which have been well accepted by Council members. In the last year, Council members and staff have been working very diligently to recognize their areas of responsibility and ensure that the interfacings between them were meaningful and that they did not meddle in areas where they didn’t rightfully belong. I believe the effectiveness of the organization has improved immeasurably because of this new governance model implementation. I’m very happy with it.

Q. Another area in which APEGGA is undertaking new initiatives in recent years is the discipline process. You have had some opportunity to see the new approach working first hand as past chair of the Discipline Committee. Could you comment on how this new approach, which divides the process between an Investigative Committee and a Discipline Committee, is working?

A. The most significant impact of the new disciplinary process is that it is much more demanding of time and much more open to members of the public (should they be interested in it) compared to our previous process. I’ve always been impressed with the thoroughness and the sincerity of our committee members with regard to our disciplinary process. They have always been very careful to ensure that a high level of professionalism was involved in the investigations that were undertaken. However, this new process, being totally open and accessible to the public, has added an additional level of thoroughness to the investigative deliberations which now require three members instead of one. It has put a significant additional workload on our volunteers. It has a budgetary impact which has caused our cost of regulation or discipline process to increase somewhat. However, it does allow us to point out to our concerned publics and government that we have an excellent disciplinary process. Very fortunately we have a high degree of professionalism, such that the number of cases considering the size of APEGGA’s membership are quite minimal compared to other professional groups. We should be very proud of the way in which our members conduct themselves professionally within their area of competence and in accordance with the Code of Ethics.

Q. The Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Program now is a reality with members being asked to submit information on their CPD activities with their membership renewals. What is your reading on membership acceptance of CPD and do you anticipate any further adjustments or modifications to the program?

A. I am a strong believer that anything that is undertaken by engineers, you do it, and then you fix it. I believe that our current Continuing Professional Development program is an excellent initiative which fulfils our responsibilities to demonstrate to the public that we are continuing to maintain our competence in our area of expertise. However, there is no doubt in my mind that five years from now, it is going to be even better. There is certainly a small portion of our population, who through ignorance ( I make a distinction between ignorance and stupidity) are opposed to the program. However, I have yet to meet any individuals who were opposed to the program who, when enlightened, didn’t respond by saying: "Gee, this is not too bad after all." It is, in fact, a very responsible program.

Q. Recently the Association, adopted some additional measures in the area of member services, adding to the endorsed insurance program an automobile purchase and leasing support service as well as a résumé referral service. Are there any other areas of potential member services being considered?

A. Traditionally, APEGGA’s primary and sole role was to ensure that the registration and disciplinary processes, in the interest of protecting the public, were upheld. However, our demographics with regard to the engineering disciplines have changed materially over the last few decades. We have not. It is very important that Council recognize the needs of our current membership. We certainly must continue to provide assurance to the public that safety is a primary concern, however, it is also important that APEGGA become more relevant to its membership. Member services are one area that is being pursued to provide that relevance. A few programs have been initiated. We will seek advice from the membership and Council to determine whether there are other additional meaningful services that can be incorporated which would create value for the members.

Q. Council not long ago approved a guideline on contract employment. Could this document prove valuable to APEGGA members?

A. A large percentage of our membership initiated their careers with the expectation that they would be either consultants all their lives or that they would be employed by a single firm all their lives. The reality today is that long-term employment is a rarity. Recognizing that, to a large degree, there will be a number of employment opportunities, generally on a short term, a guideline such as this will relieve a lot of tension amongst our members as to how to get from here to there. I think this is a very valuable document.

Q. The Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists is up and running. APEGGA has been very supportive of national umbrella organizations for associations registering professional geoscientists. Is it correct to assume that APEGGA remains firmly committed to the CCPG?

A. Absolutely!

Q. APEGGA currently is participating in a pilot program to administer some technical exams in the professional practice area on behalf of some of its counterpart associations across Canada. How do you view this initiative and do you envision other ways in which the various provincial associations could cooperate in similar ways?

A. We in Canada have an excellent relationship amongst the various associations and we are striving to get mobility between the provinces to be a non-issue. If we mutually can define the role of a professional among the various provincial jurisdictions, so much the better, and thereby common exams have to be beneficial. To the degree they can be sourced in a meaningful fashion from the same source or administered by the same group, that’s going to be cost-effective and therefore should be encouraged. But certainly the relevance of the examination process should be reviewed periodically.