Council Endorses Fall Consultation Recommendations After Record Stakeholder Participation – Proposed Changes Submitted to Government

A highly engaged APEGA Council endorsed 20 proposed recommendations for improvements to our legislation, during three hours of discussions on January 25 that were both detailed and wide-ranging. And Councillors weren’t the only ones engaged. The recommendations earned unprecedented participation from stakeholders, especially those in the geoscience community.

With the fourth round of the consultation now closed, on February 1 Council submitted proposed changes to the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act (EGP Act) to the Government of Alberta (GOA), reaching a major milestone in the legislative review. The submission on regulation changes is slated for the end of June.

Council’s endorsements take into account stakeholder feedback collected in the fourth round, the fall 2016 consultation. Council sought clarification from staff members working on the review and in one instance approved an amended proposed recommendation. In some cases, Council approved moving proposed recommendations forward with mixed feedback included as part of the discussion with the government.

Although many recommendations in the fall consultation involve the practices of both APEGA professions, some are particularly important to geoscience. That meant that much of Council’s discussion centred on comments from the geoscience community, an audience APEGA targeted. One recommendation proposes an updating of the actual definition of the practice of geoscience to make it better reflect current technology and practice areas.

Representing a group of subject-matter experts, several geoscientists – who are also volunteers with the champions collaborative – assisted APEGA in shaping proposed recommendations for the definition of geoscience, descriptions of geoscience work products, and geoscience exemption changes. The champions collaborative is made up of APEGA professionals who volunteer to share information about the review and to generate participation and feedback.

The geoscience champions also reached out to their networks to build interest, leading to multiple in-house consultations with major Permit Holders and their staff, and two sessions – one in Calgary, one in Edmonton – held specifically for geoscience Members.

In the survey portion of the consultation, more than 50 per cent of respondents identified themselves as registered APEGA geoscientists, which suggests that more than 11 per cent of APEGA’s Professional Geoscientist membership participated.

More than 2,000 people provided input, making it the largest round of consultations since APEGA started collecting feedback in May 2015. Survey respondents numbered 1,148, the most in any legislative review surveys posted so far. The survey ran from early October to early December 2016.

Eighty-seven per cent of respondents were Professional Members, five per cent were Permit Holders, two per cent were members of the public, and seven per cent identified as other. Members and Permit Holders participated in the consultation through 17 face-to-face sessions, four in-house consultations, eight webinars, the survey, and email submissions. Most survey respondents reviewed background material on this site, the official legislative review website, before answering questions. About 20 per cent attended consultation sessions.

A summary of the proposed recommendations and consultation responses can be found in We’re Listening: Fall 2016 Consultation Summary.

Canada’s other engineering and geoscience self-regulating organizations provided feedback. So did other Alberta professional associations, the Consulting Engineers of Alberta, and the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG).

A point of concern with professional liability insurance (PLI) was the varying size of Permit Holders. An umbrella requirement for PLI may not recognize the different realities sole practitioners face in their practices, in comparison to larger Permit Holders.

Council revised a proposed recommendation regarding PLI. The original proposed recommendation was replaced by an amended one that would give Council the authority to create policy, at a later date, on requirements for Permit Holders and Members to carry PLI.

Comments from the geoscience community – including those in a letter from CSPG – led Council to discuss whether the practices of Professional Engineering and Professional Geoscience should be treated the same when it comes to the authentication of professional documents. Many comments from the geoscience community emphasized that some areas of their practices affect the public less directly than engineering practices do.

Council extensively discussed updating authentication practices to make the responsibilities and requirements for Responsible Members easier to understand. Authentication of professional documents is one area that needs more legislative clarity, Council heard.

All the recommendations are considered proposed because the Government of Alberta (GOA), as owner of the legislation, will write the EGP Act and General Regulation. APEGA has been consulting with GOA on a weekly basis since September 15, 2016.

Fall 2016 Topics

Topics of all the fall proposed recommendations – those mentioned above and others – are:

  • Updating Authentication Practices
  • Permit to Practice
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Creative Sanctions
  • Updating Tools for Statutory Entities
  • Allowing Custodian of Practice
  • Refining the Continuing Professional Development Program
  • Provisional Licensee Membership
  • Changes to the Definition of the Practice of Geoscience
  • Changes to the Description of Geoscience Work Products
  • Changes to Geoscience Exemptions
  • Investigator Authority
  • Authority of Practice Reviewers
  • Enforcement Review Committee
  • Mediated Settlements
  • Consent Orders
  • Obligation to Comply and Cooperate
  • Restricted Practitioners Membership
  • University Students Membership

Next Sessions Approach

One more round of consultation – the fifth – remains in the review, with the possibility of GOA proclaiming a new Act in 2018.

APEGA appreciates everyone’s participation in the 2016 fall session, which brought a close our consultations on most of the issues covered in the EGP Act. Planning is underway now for the final legislative review consultation with Members and Permit Holders, this coming spring. Proposed recommendations in this round will primarily involve the General Regulation.

Since consultation began in the spring of 2015, more than 6,000 Members and Permit Holders have provided valuable feedback on proposed recommendations.

Originally published February 2, 2017