DAVE TODD, P.ENG.
APEGGA’s Compliance Department, with the support of
the Enforcement Review Committee, spends a considerable amount
of time and energy enforcing the permit to practice. This
is one of the department’s major activities in working
towards achieving Council’s goal of 100 per cent compliance
with the licensing requirements of the EGGP Act.
The Compliance staff is supported in these endeavors by
the Enforcement Review Committee, along with legal advice
and investigators on an as required basis. Part 1 of the
Engineering, Geological & Geophysical Professions Act
provides the legislative authority for the ERC to carry out
All corporations, partnerships or other entities engaged
in the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics in
Alberta require a permit to practice. The Compliance Department
regularly contacts companies in a variety of industries,
such as traditional consulting firms, manufacturing companies,
oil and gas exploration companies and those in the environmental
and advanced technology industries. One of the main requirements
for a permit holder is to have a responsible professional
member or members licensed with APEGGA to assume accountability
for the practice of engineering, geology and geophysics.
The Compliance Department staff responds to many comments
and questions pertaining to the permit. Although the permit
has been a requirement for many years there still remains
a certain misunderstanding over its meaningfulness and reason
for existence. For this reason there is a continuing need
The regular PEGG compliance column reports examples of enforcement
cases and their resolution, many of which involve the permit
to practice. For a change of pace, we thought it would be
of interest for readers to see examples of the comments,
questions and responses that come up during our discussions
with companies contacted about permits.
Why is a permit required?
The simple answer is that a permit is required by law. The
EGGP Act is a statute of the Province of Alberta, by which
APEGGA has been delegated the authority to regulate the professions
of engineering, geology and geophysics. Part 1 sections 2(1);
5(1) & 7(1) specify the regulatory requirement for a
What is its purpose?
Albeit that it is the law, the permit provides a very valuable
means to prevent non-qualified persons from practicing the
three professions. It is primarily an instrument of quality
control for the purpose of influencing the quality of professional
practice within a corporation.
The permit holder is a corporate member and subject to the
same standards of skill and ethics as an individual professional
member of APEGGA. The responsible member requirement stated
in regulation 48(1) (c) is for the purpose of ensuring this
accountability within a corporation. New regulations 48(1)(d) & 48.1
were recently approved by the Alberta Government for the
purpose of strengthening the importance and value of the
permit by requiring permit holders to follow a professional
management plan and attendance by responsible members at
permit to practice seminars once every five years.
My company already employs APEGGA members. Why do I need
The permit to practice application requires a declaration
by the chief operating officer or authorized designate. This
individual is not required to be an APEGGA member but is
on the application to ensure that there is a commitment from
senior management that the company is aware of the requirement
to perform and agrees to perform in accordance with the act.
What does a permit do for me?
Benefits to a corporation are that the quality of the product
as well as credibility is enhanced. It provides conformation
that the permit holder meets APEGGA’s high standards
and conforms to a strict code of ethics. The permit is an
entitlement to practice as well as hold out to practice by
allowing the use of engineering, geology or geophysics on
titles, business cards, company brochures and websites etc.
Holding a permit to practice and displaying the permit certificate
signifies due diligence by the permit holder and could reduce
liability in a civil suit. The fact that senior management
provides an undertaking on the permit application has the
effect of providing professional employees the benefit of
protection from non professionals. The permit holder is subject
to the same code of ethics as an individual.
Permits are just a money grab
APEGGA is a financially self-supporting, not-for-profit
regulatory association. Enforcement of the permit to practice
is a regulatory responsibility similar to individual registration
with operational and administrative costs which must be recovered.
APEGGA’s Council recently recognized increased operational
costs associated with permits and approved a 50 per cent
reduction in annual dues for permit holders with one professional
member and gross revenue of less than $250,000 in the preceding
year. APEGGA’s fees are substantially lower than the
fees of associations regulating other professions such as
medical doctors, lawyers, dentists and chartered accountants
I do not think that we practice engineering, geology or
geophysics because we do not design or stamp drawings
The legal definitions of the practices of Engineering, geology
and geophysics are located in the EGGP Act sections 1(q),
1(r) & 1(s). Part 1 of these definitions refers to several
different activities. It is not necessary to be engaged in
all of these activities to be legally practicing engineering,
geology or geophysics.
For example, designing is only one of the activities listed
in definition of the practice of engineering. It is very
possible for a company to be engaged in the practice of engineering
as defined in the EGGP Act without being involved in designing
We do not require a permit to practice because we
hire APEGGA members when we require their services
The primary question in this situation is, who decides when
the services of an APEGGA member are required? One immediate
connotation is the possibility of buying a stamp of convenience.
The permit is an excellent vehicle to control this practice.
The Compliance Department must first define the core activity
and determine if it constitutes the practice of engineering,
geology or geophysics as defined in the EGGP Act. If it is
determined to be one or more of the practices, the company
in question would be required to obtain a permit to practice.
The responsible member would then be involved with determining
when the services of other APEGGA members are required.
Do we need a permit just because we employ APEGGA members?
The Compliance Department assumes that if APEGGA members
are employed that the activities of the company constitute
the practice. This is not always the case. It is often discovered
as the result of contact with a firm employing APEGGA members
that the activities are unrelated to the practice as defined
in the EGGP Act and a permit is not required.
How can a company practice engineering, geology or geophysics?
A company cannot practice on its own. Although a corporation
is a legal person, it has no life of its own and must conduct
its activities through individuals properly authorized
to conduct the affairs of the corporation.
The Compliance Department deals entirely with non-members.
Approximately 90 per cent of the activity is proactive. First
priority is given to complaints from members and the public.
Currently less than 10 per cent of violations are received
from these sources. We would like APEGGA members to be our
eyes and ears and the source of all non-member violations.
Some type of evidence such as business cards, letters, reports,
websites etc. is required to initiate contact. Because we
are dealing with non-members, the source of the violation
report is not revealed except in the remote instance of legal
action. Most cases are resolved before reaching this stage.
Please contact APEGGA’s Compliance Department whenever
you become aware of companies or individuals practicing or
holding themselves out to practice while not being registered.
If you suspect a non-member or non-permitted company of
operating in contravention of the EGGP Act, contact
Toll-free 1-800-661-7020, Ext. 2325