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B.C. too vague about experience requirements for licensing, judge decides

A British Columbia court has determined that the professional association that licenses engineers in the province i...


A British Columbia court has determined that the professional association that licenses engineers in the province is not being clear enough about what experience it requires from applicants. As a result, the association felt it necessary to suspend issuing licences.
The court case involved a person who applied for licensing four times between 2001 and 2006 but was refused on the grounds he had insufficient Canadian experience. He had a civil engineering degree and worked in the former Soviet Union for 20 years before coming to Canada.
The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. has now drafted a new bylaw to replace its existing Bylaw 11(e)(2) to make the experience requirements specific. This new bylaw is before the membership for ratification.
The judge in the case agreed that the association had the right to assess the qualifications of those applying to be licensed as professional engineers and geoscientists, and he recognized that the province’s Engineers and Geoscientists Act permits the association to set the standards for granting licences. However, according to APEGBC, “what are deemed to be at fault are the lack of definition in what experience is necessary and the lack of articulation of these experience requirements in a bylaw.”
The bylaw being replaced was written in 1952 and said, that registration as a full member “may be granted to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada when Council is satisfied that the applicant is of good character and repute,” and that he or she “has four years’ experience, training and development in engineering or geoscience satisfactory to the council.” Apparently, according to the judge, this wording delegated too much discretion to the association.
APEGBC says the delay in granting licences affects about 90 engineers and 12 geoscientists every month, and they view the delay “with serious concern, particularly in consideration of the current shortage of professionals.” To ease matters they are issuing a temporary Limited Licence to applicants who would otherwise be eligible.
Professional Engineers of Ontario reported in the latest issue of Engineering Dimensions that the B.C. ruling could have ramifications for its licensing process, which is currently under review.