Registration of Geoscientists

Professionals, including engineers, architects and doctors, are registered to practice in Canada under provincial or territorial legislation. Four jurisdictions in Canada currently also register almost 5000 geoscientists, either as Professional Geoscientists (P.Geo.), Professional Geologists (P.Geol.) or Professional Geophysicists (P.Geoph.) under combined engineering and geoscience acts of their Legislatures. These are:

Alberta: began in 1966, approximately 3800 members in the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA).

British Columbia: began in 1990, approximately 850 members in the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC).

Newfoundland: began in 1988, approximately 150 members in the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland (APEGN).

Northwest Territories: began in 1981, 5060 members in the Northwest Territories Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists (NAPEGG).

In other jurisdictions the situation is as follows:

Manitoba: A report by the Manitoba Law Reform Commission on professional registration in the province stalled introduction of a revised engineering and geoscientific act into the Legislature for over a year. The current schedule calls for final approval by geoscientists of the proposed act by May 15, 1996, approval by the Association of Professional Engineers (APEM) in June, 1996, and submission to the Minister of Labour in September, 1996.

New Brunswick: Changes to the engineering act to include registration of geoscientists will probably go to the Legislature sometime during 1996. The intervening time is being used for mutual education of engineers and geoscientists and fine-tuning the new act by the joint engineer-geoscientist liaison committee.

Nova Scotia: A new engineering and geoscience act has been developed by a joint committee of geoscientists and engineers, and could be submitted to the Provincial Legislature as early as the spring sitting in 1996.

Ontario: Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) and the Committee for Professional Registration of Geoscientists in Ontario (CPRGO) have been discussing the need and best mechanism for geoscientists to become registered for several years. Significant progress has been made in the past two years but it is still uncertain whether the approximately 3000 geoscientists in the province will be included under a revised engineering act or whether an association of geoscientists will be formed to seek right-to-title legislation as in interim solution to the need for recognition of geoscientists.

Prince Edward Island and Yukon: The few geoscientists practicing in these jurisdictions have not expressed strong interest in registration. Those who require it will undoubtedly apply for registration in an adjoining province.

Quebec: Legislation granting right-to-title authority to the Association of Professional Geologists and Geophysicists of Quebec (APGGQ) has been passed by the Assembly but not yet been approved by the Cabinet or proclaimed in the Provincial Gazette.

Saskatchewan: A revised engineering and geoscience act is expected to be introduced in the Legislature at its next sitting in 1996.

Academic Qualifications for Registration

The four associations which currently register geoscientists each have their own syllabus setting out their academic requirements for registration. Although the requirements are similar, there has been no standardization and professionals moving from one association to another may face delays and the possibility of examinations before they can become registered in the new jurisdiction. National syllabi, accepted by all associations, will make transferring registration between jurisdictions less difficult.

A National Geology Syllabus has been developed by the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Professional Registration Committee (PRC) after three years' work, and will be widely publicized throughout the country. At the present time, organizations which register or certify geoscientists are not obligated to use the Syllabus, but may choose to use all or parts of it as they wish.

The first draft of a proposed National Geophysics Syllabus has been completed. Further development will be undertaken by a Geophysics Subcommittee with members from the Council of Chairs of Canadian Earth Science Departments (CCCESD), the Canadian Geophysical Union (CGU), the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG),APEGGA and APEGBC.

The role of geoscientists in environmental practice and tl1e possibility of developing a national environmental geoscience/ geotechnical syllabus (or syllabi) have been discussed by the Professional Registration Committee but no conclusions have been reached.

National Coordination

The possibility of establishing a national organization to coordinate the professional practice of geoscience in Canada was first proposed in 1984 by John Maher, President of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, in a letter to the Chairman of CCESD, the president of the Geological Association of Canada (GAC) and the Chairman of the Canadian Geoscience Council (CGC). Particular reference was made in the Maher proposal to the need for a national geology syllabus and accreditation of Canadian geology programs to facilitate professional registration of geologists nationally and mobility among jurisdictions.

The Professional Registration Committee (PRC) of CGC was established as a result of this initiative and, over the years, it has attempted to address many of the needs identified by Maher. The PRC assisted provincial geoscientist committees in working toward professional registration, held information sessions at professional meetings, published articles and developed national geoscience syllabi to enhance transferability of registration among Canadian provinces and territories. As the professional association with the longest history of registering geoscientists (and the largest number of geoscientist members) APEGGA has actively supported the work of PRC.

By 1994, the PRC had recognized the need for a new national umbrella organization to serve Canadian professional geoscientists and the growing number of professional associations that registered them.

The Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists

In May, 1995, on the initiative of APEGGA, the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE), voted to support the formation of a Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists (CCPG) to act as the umbrella organization for those associations that register or certify geoscientists. The purposes of the CCPG would be to facilitate transferability of professional membership by encouraging common registration standards; to promote mobility of geoscientists and reciprocity of practice among registering associations; to provide for national geoscience syllabi; to evaluate academic programs; and to represent professional geoscientists at the national and international level. A task force was established by the CCPE to examine and advise on areas of potential common interest and activity between CCPE and CCPG and to develop procedures, mechanisms and a business plan for implementing activities in these common areas. Nine of the thirteen members of the task force were geoscientists, including five from the PRC (Michel Bouchard, Hugh Miller, Bill Pearson, Phil Reeves and Gordon Williams). The task force concluded its deliberations in November, 1995, and its recommendations were accepted by the CCPE at its Annual Meeting that same month.

Those recommendations were to establish a new group, the CCPG Implementation Task Force (CCPG-ITF) which, within a two-year time frame, will formally establish the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists under federal charter, with the cooperation and assistance of the CCPE. The CCPE Board of Directors committed funds to the CCPG-ITF for two years in the amount of the annual fees paid to CCPE by its constituent provincial and territorial associations on behalf of their geoscientist members. At the end of the two year life of the CCPG-ITF, this funding will be permanently allocated to CCPG. The CCPG-ITF will begin operations in 1996.

The CCPG-ITF will have one representative appointed by each provincial or territorial association which registers geoscientists. In the absence of such a body, a representative will be appointed by the association best representing the professional interests, from a licensing perspective, of geoscientists in that particular jurisdiction. The CCPE will have a liaison member on the Task Force and other national geoscience associations, such as CGC, may be granted observer status at the discretion of the CCPG-ITF.

Under the terms of reference of the CCPG-ITF, the CCPG will be guided by the following principles:

Inclusiveness: CCPG will be set up in a manner that can involve all professional geoscientists through provincial and territorial associations or organizations.

Needs of Constituent Associations: CCPG must be relevant to, and address the needs of, its constituent provincial and territorial associations or organizations.

Needs of Individual Members: CCPG must be relevant to, and address the needs of, individual members of each of its constituent associations or organizations.

Strong Relationships with Provincial and Territorial Associations: For CCPG to function effectively, strong linkages must be developed and maintained with provincial and territorial associations or organizations.

Strong Relationships with CCPE: The CCPG must determine areas of common interest and maintain strong linkages with the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers.

Financial Viability: CCPG must become an independent organization under federal charter and it must be financially viable from contributions of its constituent member associations.

The specific functions of the CCPGITF will be to:

Establish the CCPG by preparing letters patent and by-laws and establishing an appropriate initial governing structure.

Begin developing national standards for registration and mobility of geoscientists; initiate human resources activities such as professional development, professional affairs, member services, determination of supply and demand; and begin establishing national and international government relations and linkages with employers. The initial priority will be to address matters of national standards for registration, interprovincial transferability of registration and mobility of practice.

Work closely with constituent associations that register geoscientists, or are working toward geoscience registration, and the CCPE to establish the CCPG and to develop and communicate its role in the... geoscience community.

Assist, where appropriate, organizations in other provinces and territories which are in the process of registering geoscientists.

Investigate funding options, seek and receive additional funds, and develop a business plan for CCPG.



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