Canadian Consulting Engineer

Mediator appointed to ease professional tensions in Alberta

Engineers and technologists in Alberta are waiting to hear what is the outcome of negotiations between their respec...

August 21, 2006   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Engineers and technologists in Alberta are waiting to hear what is the outcome of negotiations between their respective associations. The two groups have been at odds over professional titles and whether the technologists should have their own Act.
The Alberta government appointed a mediator earlier this year, Mr. David Jones, Q.C., to oversee the negotatiations between the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA) and the Alberta technologists association, known by the acronym ASET. The parties are due to hold a meeting before the end of August, following which it is anticipated some kind of news will be released. The associations have agreed that any communication to the press must be a joint release.
In 2005, ASET upset the engineering association when it got government approval for a change of name to the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta. APEGGA objected to the use of both “Engineering” and “Professional” in the title, felt that it was inappropriate and would mislead the public. For the time being, the technologists association is continuing to use the acronym “ASET” although the website also has “Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta” prominently at the top.
Earlier this year, ASET went a step further and applied to have a new act to govern its members. Such an act would represent “applied science, information and engineering technologists.” ASET applied to the provincial Government’s Standing Policy Committee on Education and Employment for an act that would allow to regulate technologists and give them the right to practice independently.
Not just APEGGA, but nine other professional groups objected to ASET’s proposal. They formed the “Pro 10” group, which includes the Alberta Association of Architects and the Alberta Land Surveyors Association. Professional engineering associations have traditionally been the organizations privileged by law to maintain standards by governing the issuing of licences and qualifications. In that way, these licensing professional organizations undertake to ensure that the health and safety of the public are protected.
Now negotiations are under way under the watchful eye of an appointed mediator. APEGGA has a proposal on the table that represents a middle ground. It calls the proposal “one Act, two Associations.” Under this proposal, ASET would be brought under the same Act as the engineers, i.e. the Engineering, Geology and Geophysics Professions Act. Presently ASET is governed by the Societies Act.
Under this proposal ASET would be able to regulate those technologists who only practise under supervision. If a technologist were to be allowed to practise without supervision, both APEGGA and ASET would jointly provide regulation.
APEGGA says this proposal would be in the best interest of the public, the professionals and the technologists. Changing the rules to have technologists governed under the same legislation as the engineers, they say, would provide more consistent regulatory practices, would recognize the reality of the market today, and would enable the organizations to cooperate in order to handle “hyper-growth” in the province’s economy.

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