The APEGA Legislative review was an initiative that began in 2015 and was prompted by the Government of Alberta (GOA) in 2014. The objective of the review was to update the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act (EGP Act) and General Regulation to reflect today’s industry practice and ensure that the practice continues to protect the public’s interest. Since the Legislation was last updated in 1981, APEGA took the opportunity to make changes to the EGP Act and Regulations so that it better represents how an Engineer and Geoscientist practices her/his profession today.

APEGA completed four rounds of consultations with its Members: one in Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016 and Fall 2016. A summary of each consultation was provided in a “We’re Listening” report and posted to the Legislative Review website at https://apegalegislativereview.ca/. The reports summarized the input received from survey results, in-person and webinar consultations and email submissions.

All proposed changes and amendments have been presented to the APEGA Council and several recommendations have already been endorsed. On February 1, 2017, APEGA delivered the proposed changes to the EGP Act to the Government of Alberta (GOA). Similarly, the proposed changes to the General Regulation are scheduled to be submitted to the GOA by June 30, 2017. A fifth and final consultation is scheduled to occur in May 2017.

This article is meant to serve as a call to action for the CSEG members, who are also members of APEGA, to get informed and provide their input. The feedback from Geoscientists in our community is important to this review, because it will help reduce the possibility of erroneous recommendations from being endorsed by the APEGA Council and approved by the GOA. Email submissions should be directed to Legislative-Review@apega.ca.

Spring 2015 Consultation

In early 2015, the Champions Collaborative was formed to help APEGA with its outreach. It was a group of volunteers made up of Branch Representatives, Permit Holders, Statutory Boards, Professional Members, Members-in-Training and key Members of APEGA’s leadership team. Their purpose was to partake in the APEGA outreach process. They informed and educated their colleagues on the legislative review and received feedback regarding key issues that were considered in the new legislation. The list of members can be found on the Legislative Review website and included three CSEG members: Mr. Ken Mitchell (P. Geoph.), Dr. Rachel Newrick (P. Geoph. and P. Geol.) and Dr. Neda Boroumand.

The Spring 2015 Consultations focused on proposed changes to six topics in the EGP Act. They included changes to the following definitions and designations:

  1. 1. Members in Training (M.I.T.s),
  2. Licensees,
  3. Professional Licensees (P.L.s),
  4. Students,
  5. Authority to delegate,
  6. Building Code exemptions.

The proposed changes, topics discussed and survey results can be found in the Spring 2015 Consultation “We’re Listening” report.

The APEGA Council endorsed all proposed changes from the Spring 2015 Consultations and made changes to three of the six proposed recommendations. Those changes can be found in Section 1.2 of the Fall 2016 Consultation Summary “We’re Listening” report.

Fall 2015 Consultation

The Fall 2015 Consultations continued with proposed recommendations to the EGP Act. The topics focused on improving regulatory efficiencies and the public interest. They covered the following areas:

  1. Authority to Inform the Public of Decisions of Statutory Boards and Committees
  2. Capacity to Practice
  3. Changes Regarding Orders, Fines, and Costs
  4. Formalizing the Mobility of Discipline Decisions
  5. Modernizing the Investigative Process
  6. Authority of the Registrar

Participants were asked to partake in a survey that asked for their level of agreement with 30 proposed changes. The survey results were summarized in the Fall 2016 Consultation Summary “We’re Listening” report.

The APEGA council reviewed the proposed recommendations from the Fall Consultation. They 1) revised proposed changes to the Investigative Process on complaints made against current and former Members and 2) identified three areas where Permit Holders and Members had a difference of opinion on several recommendations. The Council approved moving those recommendations forward in their discussion with the GOA, but with the mixed feedback to be taken under advisement. Those changes and responses by Council can be found in Section 1.2 of the Winter 2016 Consultation Summary “We’re Listening” report.

Winter 2016 Consultation

The Winter 2016 Consultations covered proposed changes to the EGP Act with a focus on improving professional practice. Those recommended changes were made to the following topics:

  1. 1. Authority of the Practice Review Committee (PRC)
  2. Practice Standards, Guidelines, and Bulletins
  3. Authority of Practice Reviewers to Make Recommendations
  4. Authority of Practice Review Panels to Make Orders

APEGA used a number of methods to collect data from its members. APEGA held a Champions collaborative meeting, in-person consultations with Members and Permit Holders, webinars and in-house Permit Holder consultations, issued a survey and received email submissions.

The input, survey results, verbatim comments and recommendations can be found in the Winter 2016 Consultation Summary “We’re Listening” report.

A summary of the endorsed and recommended changes from the Spring 2015 to Winter 2016 consultations can be found here: https://apegalegislativereview.ca/index.php/recommendations/endorsed-recommendations.html.

Fall 2016 Consultation

The Fall 2016 Consultations covered 20 topics and they included the following:

  1. Updating Authentication Practices
  2. Improving the Practice – Permit to Practice
  3. Improving the Practice – Primary Professional Liability Insurance
  4. Introducing Creative Sanctions
  5. Updating Tools for APEGA’s Statutory Entities
  6. Allowing for a Custodian of Practice
  7. Refining the Continuing Professional Development Program
  8. Membership Category – Provisional Licensee
  9. Geoscience: Changes to the Definition of the Practice of Geoscience
  10. Geoscience: Changes to the Description of Geoscience Work
  11. Geoscience: Changes to Exemptions
  12. Authority of Practice Reviewers Conducting Practice Reviews
  13. Consent Orders
  14. Enforcement Review Committee
  15. Investigator Authority
  16. Mediated Settlements
  17. Membership Category – Restricted Practitioners
  18. Establishing Time Frames for Notices and Discipline Matters
  19. Obligation to Comply and Cooperate
  20. Membership Category – University Students

The Fall 2016 Consultation “We’re Listening” report has been posted to the website and includes the survey results, verbatim comments from those surveys and proposed recommendations for changes to the legislation. APEGA Council endorsed the 20 proposed recommendations for improvement to the legislation and as of February 1, 2017, submitted the proposed changes to the EGP Act to the GOA.

Some issues

The issue with the feedback analysis was that it lumped "strongly agree" and "somewhat agree" together to give a false sense of endorsement, thereby presenting a biased positive response. Some of the proposed measures seemed to have lukewarm acceptance and this seemed to be characterized as enthusiastic support. Alternatively, the feedback analysis did not seem to combine “somewhat disagree” and “strongly disagreed” for the opposing response, thereby presenting a diluted and biased negative response. More over, the “We’re Listening” analysis seemed a little slanted and dismissive of any dissenting comments. We recommend reading through the verbatim comments within the “We’re Listening” reports.

Although APEGA cited that the geoscience engagement was very high, we found that many colleagues were not engaged in the process and that when they were, much of the geoscience feedback was not supportive of the recommended changes. We are concerned that many geoscientists do not appear to appreciate that the proposed changes could give APEGA exceptionally expanded powers and add bureaucratic burden to the practice of geoscience with dubious benefit to public interest. So, while this article is meant to provide a short summary of the Legislative Review and its activities and proposed changes, it is also meant to serve as a “call” to CSEG and APEGA members to submit their feedback so that the changes made are in the public interest and reflect the practice of geoscience.

Get informed and provide final input – May 2017

If you have an opinion regarding any of the endorsed changes to the EGP Act and General Regulation in regards to 1) definitions and designations, 2) regulatory efficiencies and the public interest, 3) on improving professional practice and 4) the remaining topics covered in the Fall consultations, then please share these with your geoscience colleagues and send your feedback to APEGA. Otherwise, your opinion will be, shall we say, “developed for you”.

First, get informed by visiting the website to review the survey responses and comments, read the recommended changes and review the endorsements made by Council. There is one final round of consultations scheduled for May 2017, so you will have the opportunity to provide your input at that time or you can submit your feedback using the email Legislative-Review@apega.ca at any time.

After that, APEGA hopes to be placed on the Legislative Assembly Agenda in Spring 2018 and have proclamation in the Fall of 2018. Then, they expect to have new bylaws to present to the membership in Spring of 2019 that will include a transition clause that will give members a timeline to adjust to and implement the changes (usually a three-year period).

End

About the Author(s)

Neda Boroumand is a geophysics graduate whose research focused on geomechanical modeling, numerical simulations and data integration for hydraulic fracturing processes in unconventional reservoirs. Her background is in acquisition, processing and interpretation of passive seismic data. She runs a company that analyses geophysical, geological and engineering data and turns it into useful knowledge to help improve business results.

Rachel Newrick, P.Geoph., P.Geol., Past President of the CSEG, works as an independent geophysical consultant, focusing predominantly on international exploration, and geophysics instructor, teaching introductory and advanced seismic interpretation classes. She enjoys working and volunteering within the geoscience community and takes every opportunity to discuss opportunities and challenges with colleagues.

Kenneth I. Mitchell, P. Geoph. / P. Geo. is a geophysicist with broad geotechnical expertise and business acumen within the energy sector acquired by working and living throughout Canada, in the mainland US and in the Far East. He currently provides consulting services to clients through his company K A Projects Ltd. with headquarters in Calgary, AB. He holds professional designations with APEGA, NAPEG and APEGBC.

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