Canadian Consulting Engineer

Not true that inter-provincial barriers stop engineers working in Alberta, says Chalcroft

David Chalcroft, P.Eng., president of the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Al...

September 15, 2006   Canadian Consulting Engineer

David Chalcroft, P.Eng., president of the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta — “APEGGA” — is objecting to an article published in the Calgary Herald on August 29 by the head of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
Heather Douglas, president and chief executive officer of the Calgary Chamber, argued in her article that inter-provincial barriers were still too high and preventing Alberta from recruiting much needed professionals and other skilled employees. She wrote: “Since Confederation, Canadian provinces have strenuously built higher and stronger trade barriers to protect their turf. It is easier for Albertans to sell lumber to Japan for chopsticks than to welcome medical doctors from Ontario, engineers from the Maritimes, and electricians from British Columbia.”
She continued: “The interprovincial trade blockades are towering, hard to penetrate and effective at keeping skilled labour out. We call that medieval.”
In a letter to the editor of the newspaper, Chalcroft responded: “It is completely misleading to claim that professionals in Alberta are not open and welcoming to qualified professionals whether they come from B.C., Saskatchewan, Alaska, Montana, China or India.” He pointed out that APEGGA and other professional associations across Canada have to ensure public safety, but “qualified professionals who demonstrate their competence are welcome to provide their services in Alberta.” He said the record speaks for itself. In the past several years, APEGGA has registered over 1,000 engineers from elsewhere in Canada, plus some 1,500 engineers from other countries around the world. “Fully 92 per cent of the internationally trained engineers who apply to APEGGA obtain their licensure.”
Both Chalcroft and Edwards referred to the recent agreement to encourage the movement of professionals and other skilled workers between British Columbia and Alberta. The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement, known as “TILMA,” was signed in April this year and requires the mutual recognition of labour certifications between over 60 groups of professionals and skilled workers in both B.C. and Alberta by 2009.
Chalcroft points out that while his organization supports TILMA, the agreement only recognized the mobility that already existed for engineers and geoscientists. However, the process of applying for certification has been speeded up: “Within days they [engineers and geoscientists licensed in B.C.] can become members of APEGGA and as such licensed to work in Alberta.”
Edwards, who was addressing her remarks directly at candidates for the Alberta Progressive Conservative party leaders, wants the TILMA-type of agreement to be expanded beyond the western provides across the country. Edwards wrote: “Why stop at B.C.? Why not eliminate the interprovincial barriers with every other province and territory… This agreement should serve as the model to sign sister-TILMAs with other provincial governments.”
Edwards painted a dramatic picture of the labour shortages looming in the West: “According to Alberta Human Resources and Employment,” she wrote, “if every Albertan could be pulled out of retirement, every disabled or under-employed citizen could quickly be given the upgrading or skill straining they need, and if the province could actually attract all the skilled immigrants it hopes for from around the world, we would still be 86,000 to 100,000 workers short 10 years from now.”
More details on TILMA are at: www.gov.bc.ca


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