2020 APEGA Annual Report
When our first general meeting was held on July 10, 1920, the association had 106 registered members in four engineering branches—69 in civil, 20 in mining, 10 in electrical, and seven in mechanical. Today, APEGA’s 70,593 members include professional engineers, professional geoscientists, and members-in-training practising in dozens of different disciplines.
A CENTURY WELL BUILT Much has changed for APEGA over the past century, yet our purpose today is the same as it was in 1920:
To build a safe and resilient Alberta . Our founders would no doubt approve.
Back in their time, towns and cities across our fledgling province were rapidly expanding. So, too, were industrial developments. Major infrastructure projects—everything from water and electrical plants to dams, irrigation canals, oil and gas developments, bridges, pipelines, roads, and railways—were in full swing. A group of forward-thinking engineers were concerned that lax regulation of their profession was endangering the public. They proposed to the Government of Alberta that engineers—whose ranks in those days included geoscientists— regulate themselves to safeguard public welfare. The province agreed. On April 10, 1920, our governing legislation was proclaimed. One hundred years later, we continue to proudly fulfil the mandate given to us by the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act . We have grown to become the largest organization of self- regulated professionals in Western Canada. Along with our members and permit-holding companies, we have a collective commitment to public safety and well-being. Though many of our centennial events and activities were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we celebrated A Century Well Built in other ways: • we shared defining engineering and geoscience milestones from Alberta’s history and looked to the future on our commemorative website, www.discoverapega.ca
• we created a series of videos that reflected on a century of engineering and geoscience accomplishments and envisioned what our next 100 years might hold • our members captured the spirit of engineering and geoscience in Alberta through a centennial photo contest that received almost 200 entries • we celebrated with our community partners, including the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, which lit the Calgary Tower and the High Level Bridge in APEGA blue and green From building prosperity through scientific research and technological advancement, to enhancing environmental protection, to launching Alberta to the forefront of medical innovation— APEGA professionals have shaped who we are as a province and as a society. Today, they play a critical role in creating a sustainable and diversified economy by devising pioneering solutions across every industry. For more than 100 years, the people and government of Alberta have trusted APEGA, and our members, to act in their interests through the regulation of the professions. This is our privilege and responsibility. We were honoured when our contributions were recognized in the Alberta legislature on July 16. Because APEGA’s history is Alberta’s history.
Our future is Alberta’s future.
Professional Sustainability Member Benefits myAPEGA Voice of Our Stakeholders Outreach Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Career Services Volunteers Summit Awards Board Letters Financial Statements 34 34 35 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 52 34 OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
Key APEGA Milestones from 1920–2020 COVID-19: Adapting to Change Message from the President Message from the Registrar & CEO APEGA Council
8 10 12 14
16 REGULATORY HIGHLIGHTS
Modernization of the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act Extension to the General Regulation Council Election Becoming Licensed Competency-Based Assessment Fair Registration Practices Act Application Processing Times Our Membership
16 17 18 20 20 21 22 24 26 28 28 29 30 33
Investigations Enforcement Appeal Board Joint Boards Examinations Professional Practice Regulatory Affairs
KEY APEGA MILESTONES FROM 1920–2020
It becomes mandatory that all professional engineers in Alberta become members of APEA, with annual dues of $2
APEA requires all companies performing engineering, geology, or geophysics work to have a Permit to Practice
Membership reache s
The Engineering and Related Professions Act is passed, allowing for separate registration and designation of engineers , geologists , and geophysicists
The Engineering Profession Act is passed and the Association of Professional Engineers of Alberta (APEA) is created
APEA begins using the P.Eng. abbreviation for professional engineers
APEGGA’s new professional geoscientist (P.Geo.) designation is proclaimed in the Alberta legislature. It combines the professional geologist and professional geophysicist designations
Membership reache s
of regulatory service
APEGGA becomes APEGA , reflecting
the combined designation of professional geoscientists
APEGGA launches its first website
APEA becomes APEGGA , the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta
Membership reache s
COVID-19: ADAPTING TO CHANGE We navigated a new normal in 2020 with the arrival of COVID-19,
yet our essential work as a regulator remained on course. Our responsibility to regulate the professions and safeguard the public welfare did not pause.
We followed government and public health recommendations and closed our Calgary and Edmonton offices on March 19. Our core business operations quickly pivoted. Within a day, staff members were working remotely, connecting with stakeholders—and each other—through phone, email, and our existing digital platforms. APEGA Council met virtually throughout the year to provide governance oversight and direction. Our statutory boards and committees also moved online—like our Board of Examiners, which continued reviewing and approving Canadian and international licensing applications. Staff and volunteers conducted other key regulatory activities digitally, including investigative interviews, discipline hearings, practice reviews, practice standard consultations, and Permit to Practice seminars. We also had great success offering web-based events and activities for professional development and outreach. In compliance with public health measures, we cancelled our annual APEGA Professional Development Conference and Summit Awards Gala in April. For the first time in our history, we were unable to gather for our annual general meeting, also in April. We were still able to confirm our Council election results following authentication by our third-party election vendor and approval by APEGA’s Ballot Counting Committee. COVID-19 tested our systems like never before. But it also provided us with an unmatched opportunity to revisit why and how we do what we do. A willingness to adapt—by staff, volunteers, and all our stakeholders—ensured that our various regulatory, operational, and governance functions were not negatively affected by the unexpected shift.
Supporting Our Membership
Through the Pandemic APEGA’s Crisis Management Team, executive leadership, and Council worked together to find feasible ways to support our membership while still being able to function the way we need to. Several initiatives were undertaken to address challenges facing our membership and ensure continuity of APEGA services: • we enabled registrants facing financial hardships to apply for a reduction in their dues, and permit-holding companies to defer 75 per cent of their dues • we lowered our continuing professional development requirement for all registrants to 30 hours for the year • we put a hold on all cancellations of licences and permits from April 2020 to March 2021 • we offered extensions to members-in- training who were under- or unemployed and unable to gain the four years of experience necessary to receive their professional licence • we waived our job board and mentoring fees until March 2021
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT JOHN VAN DER PUT , P.Eng., FEC, FGC (Hon.) APEGA President
As APEGA’s president during its centennial year, I will remember 2020 as a year when we were tested, both as a regulatory body and as engineering and geoscience professionals. We were confronted with a global health emergency, a strained economy, and increasing scrutiny of professional self-governance in Alberta. But I’ll also remember 2020 as the year APEGA, and our members, rose to the occasion. We reflected on our history with pride and demonstrated—as we have for 100 years—that we are agile, resilient, and responsive in the face of adversity. APEGA Council provided diligent governance oversight, developing and executing solutions that enabled APEGA to react quickly to changing situations. Undeterred by the pandemic, APEGA’s leaders and staff kept operations going without missing a beat or losing sight of our goals. Most importantly, we kept the promise made by our founders a century ago: to safeguard the public welfare of Albertans by proactively regulating the practices of engineering and geoscience. With this mandate to guide us, we are working to become an even stronger regulator. Topping our priorities is the renewal of our governing legislation, the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act . Self-regulated professional associations across Canada face increased pressure from provincial governments to show we can protect the public by ensuring our members are practising competently, ethically, and professionally. The changes APEGA has proposed to the Act will give us better tools to hold registrants accountable if they fail to meet these obligations.
APEGA’s licensed members are also integral to our efforts to become a stronger regulator. The best way we, as professionals, can support self-governance is by living our Code of Ethics every day: practising competently, with principle, and with the public interest always at heart. By doing so, we show Albertans we’re worthy of the confidence they’ve placed in the P.Eng. and P.Geo. designations. As leaders in self-regulation, APEGA and our members are always pushing ourselves to raise the bar higher. Alberta’s history over the past century is a testament to this. Engineering and geoscience innovation, determination, and drive helped our province flourish and made it a better place for everyone. This perseverance, imagination, and ingenuity will also help us define and solve the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow. There will be many obstacles to overcome—some we expect, and some we can’t even imagine. In this, our centennial year, it was my honour to serve as APEGA president and to stand on the shoulders of the 100 men and women who held this position before me. Our journey so far has brought us to a pivotal moment in time. As our next 100 years of service begins, we’ll be stronger because of it.
Our first virtual President’s Town Hall in September was a new way for APEGA’s president to connect with members during the pandemic and to share updates on APEGA activities. More than 200 professionals joined the online discussion, including participants from Abu Dhabi and Texas.
MESSAGE FROM THE REGISTRAR & CEO Jay Nagendran , P.Eng., FCAE, ICD.D, FEC, FGC (Hon.) Registrar & Chief Executive Officer
This has truly been a year like no other. We started 2020 with great anticipation for APEGA’s centennial, a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate A Century Well Built. We held our first centennial events in Calgary and Edmonton in February, looking forward to more. A month later, everything changed. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we closed our offices to the public in mid-March and they remained closed all year. Most of our employees spent the rest of 2020 working from home. As with everything we do, safety was at the forefront of all our decisions on how to move ahead during the pandemic. APEGA staff members were nimble, creative, and innovative in response to the disruption to their personal and professional lives. Their tenacity enabled us to meet this sudden challenge head on and adeptly fulfil our duties as Alberta’s engineering and geoscience regulator. Our IT staff ensured the abrupt transition to a remote work environment went smoothly. Office management staff kept our offices clean and safe for those who came in. The Social Committee helped us stay connected and engaged. We pulled together, while respecting the need to keep our distance. This willingness to step up—by all APEGA employees—has reinforced my belief that if an organization looks after its people, they will go above and beyond to support their organization. And despite the stress we all sometimes felt, we made progress on several strategic priorities that will help us better serve our membership and safeguard Albertans. You can read about these achievements throughout the pages of this report. Of course, everything we accomplished this year— and everything we’ve achieved since 1920—could not have happened without the essential support of APEGA volunteers. Volunteers are the foundation that sustains our professions. They are behind almost everything we do, at every level. This year, especially, I am incredibly thankful for their ongoing dedication, enthusiasm, and leadership. Over the past century, APEGA staff, volunteers, and professional members have collaborated with government and community partners, and so many others, to build a legacy of honesty and trust. Our centennial is the perfect opportunity to ask ourselves: how can we become even better? The key to our continued success is to always exceed the
expectations of those we serve. To grow stronger by encouraging a culture of belonging, inclusion, and diversity. To remember and rely on our core values of integrity, accountability, service, and innovation, which guide our behaviour and actions each day. We’ve shown, over 100 years, that self-regulation is a proven model to protect Albertans from unethical and unskilled practice. But self-governance is not our right as professionals. It’s a privilege given to us by Alberta’s 4,428,112 citizens. APEGA remains committed to working with our stakeholders to regulate the practices of engineering and geoscience responsibly and rigorously. We will work hard to uphold the environmental, economic, and social standards that Albertans deserve and demand. Like we always have, we will be there to move Alberta safely forward for the next 100 years and more. APEGA Core Values WE EXHIBIT INTEGRITY WHEN WE: • match actions to words • behave openly and honestly • treat everyone fairly and impartially • do the right thing—even when no one is watching WE EXHIBIT ACCOUNTABILITY WHEN WE: • act reliably
• own our outcomes • help others succeed • use transparent processes WE EXHIBIT SERVICE WHEN WE: • exceed expectations • seek solutions
• keep commitments • listen and empathize
WE EXHIBIT INNOVATION WHEN WE: • identify problems • seize opportunities • champion solutions • learn and share
APEGA COUNCIL Since our founding in 1920, APEGA has been governed by an elected Council entrusted by the Government of Alberta and its citizens to protect the interests and safety of the public. APEGA Council consists of 16 licensed professional members and three public members appointed by the government.
2020 Council Executive President: John Van der Put, P.Eng., FEC, FGC (Hon.) Vice-President: Lisa Doig, P.Eng. FEC, FGC (Hon.) President-Elect: Brian Pearse, P.Eng. Past-President: George Eynon, P.Geo., FGC, FEC (Hon.) 2020 Council Claudia Villeneuve, P.Eng., M.Eng. Jennifer Enns, P.Eng., FEC, FGC (Hon.) Tim Holm, P.Eng. Walter Kozak, P.Eng. David Johnson, P.Geo., PhD Manon Plante, P.Eng., MDS, CD1 Melanie Popp, P.Eng. Jason Vanderzwaag, P.Eng. Margaret Allan, P.Eng., P.Geo., FGC Darren Hardy, P.Eng. RaeAnne Leach, P.Eng., PMP, FEC, FGC (Hon.) Theresa Watson, P.Eng.
These volunteers each bring their own diverse expertise and experiences to Council, providing vision, guidance, and oversight to ensure APEGA fulfils its public-protection mandate. Their responsibilities include: • developing and driving APEGA’s strategic direction • ensuring the responsible use of resources to effectively execute APEGA’s strategic plan • providing oversight of APEGA’s function and activities • making decisions that affect the professions and the membership • providing financial oversight Regulation of the engineering and geoscience professions has continually evolved over the past 100 years to meet the changing needs and expectations of Albertans. As we move into our second century of service, APEGA Council will continue to build on our past achievements to improve and enhance our shared future.
Mary Phillips-Rickey, FCA, FCPA (government-appointed public member) Georgeann Wilkin, RN, LL.B, MBS (government-appointed public member)
On March 19, 2020, when Alberta went into a pandemic lockdown, APEGA Council held its first-ever virtual meeting. Councillors from Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, and Grande Prairie connected instantly via WebEx, an online video-conferencing application. Compare that to 1920, when the fastest way for APEGA councillors to connect for association meetings in Edmonton and Calgary was to travel via passenger train. Back then, a one-day Council meeting could require a four-day round trip between cities.
REGULATORY HIGHLIGHTS As a national leader in regulation since 1920, APEGA’s systems are robust, proactive, and responsive. We are committed to continuous performance and process improvements across all our regulatory functions, ensuring the protection of the public and the compliance of our registrants.
Modernization of the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act
Extension to the General Regulation
APEGA registrants voted electronically to amend Section 79.1 of the General Regulation to extend its expiry date to September 30, 2026. The General Regulation outlines criteria for registration, ethics, and professional development. The extension enables the continued regulation of the engineering and geoscience professions in Alberta while we work with the provincial government to proclaim a modernized EGP Act . This was the first time we had held an electronic vote other than our annual Council elections. More than 9,700 licensed professionals voted, which is nearly 17 per cent of eligible voters. They were strongly in favour of the extension, with almost 97 per cent voting in support.
We continue to work with the Government of Alberta to modernize the Engineering and Geoscience Professions (EGP) Act , which is currently more than 40 years old. The EGP Act is the joint governing legislation for APEGA and the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET). We began a multi-year consultation and review of the legislation in 2014. In 2019, APEGA and ASET agreed on more than 160 recommendations, which we sent as a joint submission to the government. The updated Act will support continued public safety in Alberta through improved transparency and accountability. It will provide meaningful consequences for those who fail to meet our professional, technical, and ethical standards. We hope to see the revised legislation tabled and voted on in 2021.
APEGA’s annual election is the foundation of a strong and sustainable self-regulatory system. Election candidates are licensed professionals who volunteer their time to give back to the professions. Through the election process, their peers determine who will serve on APEGA Council and provide regulatory oversight of the professions. We’ve had healthy participation by election candidates in recent years:
Technology is helping us increase voter engagement and improve the voting experience. • Voters can get to know candidates through our election web page and on social media, where they can read candidate profiles and watch short candidate videos. • Our streamlined electronic voting system, introduced in 2019, has made it easier for licensed professionals to securely cast their votes online. * Due to the public health emergency, APEGA Council was unable to convene publicly to read the election results at the 2020 annual general meeting in Edmonton on April 24, 2020. It invoked Bylaw 11 on April 2, which allowed Council to declare the results of the 2020 annual election as valid based on certified confirmation from Simply Voting, our third-party voting provider, and the 2020 APEGA Council Election Ballot Counting Committee report, which has been made public in the interest of transparency and trust.
3 FOR PRESIDENT 16 FOR COUNCIL 19 CANDIDATES
13 CANDIDATES 15 CANDIDATES
3 FOR PRESIDENT
VOTER PARTICIPATION BY YEAR
10 FOR COUNCIL
3 FOR PRESIDENT
12 FOR COUNCIL
APEGA licensed professionals elected our first Council through mail-in letter ballot in 1920. FREDERICK PETERS , a civil engineer from Calgary and a long-time advocate of professional self-regulation, was elected the association’s first president. Helping him lead Council was LEONARD DRUMMOND , a mining engineer from Edmonton and the association’s first vice-president.
APEGA elections were conducted electronically for the first time in 2008. In 2020, all valid votes were cast online.
Registration with APEGA is a pivotal milestone for applicants. It’s also central to APEGA’s role to serve the public interest and keep Albertans safe. BECOMING LICENSED
Our Registration Department and Board of Examiners work together to establish
transparent and objective admission standards, policies, and processes. The review process is detailed and thorough to ensure applicants have the education, experience, English-language competency, and ethical and professional knowledge required for professional practice. We treat our potential registrants with respect by processing their applications honestly, fairly, and as timely as possible. Each application is unique and reviewed individually to ensure we fully understand all aspects and details. Many of our applicants are from outside Canada. We are committed to eliminating barriers for these internationally trained applicants. We review applications in a balanced manner based on applicants’ qualifications, not their countries of origin. Since 2012, we have been the only engineering and geoscience regulator in Canada to have a full-time international qualifications officer providing outreach and support for foreign professionals seeking licensure.
VOLUME OF CANADIAN VS. INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS
Fair Registration Practices Act
Our competency-based assessment (CBA) tool was introduced in 2018 to allow engineering applicants to assess and explain their work experience. This approach is an objective and consistent way of evaluating professional competency, especially for applicants who gained their work experience outside of Canada. We have made changes to the CBA processes and policies to increase the tool’s efficiency and effectiveness. • We originally used two examiners to review low-risk applications. After gaining experience with CBA, we confidently reduced this to one reviewer. • After implementation, the number of refused applications increased due to deficiencies in the applications. We changed the process to allow deferrals and provide applicants with information on how to address the deficiencies. This permits applicants to remain inside the application process while they resolve experience deficiencies, saving them time and money.
We made substantial progress in 2020 on a multi-year project to renew our registration tools and processes. Clear improvements have brought us closer to meeting targets set by the Fair Registration Practices Act introduced by the Government of Alberta in June 2019. • The Act requires regulators to provide applicants with an interim decision on their application status within six months of submission. • The decision can include advice on extra training or additional experience required. APEGA strives to continuously enhance and expedite our registration process without compromising public safety. Our existing registration practices meet industry best practices, including being aligned with the province’s foreign-qualification recognition framework. Further enhancements in 2020 are improving our application processing times. • Licensed APEGA staff members (professional engineers and professional geoscientists) support the Board of Examiners (BOE) by conducting academic and experience reviews for low-risk files. • Some low-risk applications can be approved quickly without additional review. • The BOE is deferring applications that are highly deficient in academic qualifications (those lacking a half-year or more of engineering or geoscience education). • A recruitment campaign increased the number of volunteer academic and experience
examiners on the BOE to 120 from 70. • We hired additional staff to support the application process.
Application Processing Times A new data-tracking tool, launched in 2020, allows us to analyze our application processing performance metrics more quickly and accurately. By monitoring detailed application processing statistics in real time, we’ll know sooner if our process changes are working. This enables us to make more proactive adjustments to our practices and procedures to meet government guidelines.
APPLICATION PROCESSING TIMES BY LOCATION OF EDUCATION
Includes 1,885 applications submitted in 2020 and decided on in 2020. Results reflect improvements to APEGA’s application review system, which have resulted in faster and more efficient processing. 2020
Includes 3,795 applications decided on in 2020, regardless of when they were submitted for review. Historic Performance
CANADIAN (EXCLUDING MEMBERS-IN-TRAINING)
Median number of days to review
Percentage greater than 180 days
Median number of days to review
Percentage greater than 180 days
Notes: This is the first year using our new tracking tool, and there is the possibility of discontinuity with time data presented in prior years.
To avoid skewing the results, the tables do not include member-in-training applications, which are typically processed very quickly.
With persistent economic challenges in Alberta, compounded by COVID-19, our overall membership decreased by more than 950 professional engineers and professional geoscientists. 950
The number of active permit-holding companies performing engineering or geoscience work in Alberta remained stable at 4,581 . Last year, there were 4,584 permit-holding companies registered with APEGA. 4,590 The five-year average is
Professional member (engineering)* Professional member (geoscience)**
* Contains professional members, professional licensees, and licensees for engineering designations. ** Contains professional members, professional licensees, and licensees for geoscience designations and dual engineering and geoscience designations. *** Contains life members, provisional licensees, exam candidates, students, university students, and honorary members.
2,108 new registrants licensed by APEGA in 2020
1,403 were educated in Canada
705 were internationally educated
TOP FIVE COUNTRIES OF INTERNATIONALLY TRAINED APPLICANTS IN 2020
UNI TED STATES
INVESTIGATIONS APEGA safeguards the public from unskilled practice and unprofessional conduct by thoroughly investigating all written complaints against registrants and permit-holding companies. Each complaint is carefully examined by experienced staff in our Investigations Department, with direction from professional volunteers on our Investigative Committee. If sufficient evidence is found, allegations are referred to our Discipline Committee for a formal hearing.
HOW CASES ARE CLOSED
Discipline Hearing – The Investigative Committee has referred the matter to the Discipline Committee for a formal hearing. Mediated – The Investigative Committee has approved the mediated agreement between the parties. RDO (Recommended Discipline Order) – The member has admitted to unskilled practice, unprofessional conduct, or both, and has agreed to specific sanctions. Terminated – The Investigative Committee has determined the complaint was either frivolous or vexatious or there was
insufficient evidence of unskilled practice, unprofessional conduct, or both. Withdrawn – The complainant has either withdrawn or abandoned the complaint.
INVESTIGATIONS ACTIVITY BY YEAR
Note: The median number of days to close a case increased to 612 in 2020 from 369 in 2019. This is due to several factors, including: • increasingly complex and litigious cases that required more time to investigate and resolve • a large number of investigations awaiting judicial review, action by other regulators, or expert opinion • increased quality of investigations
2 RDOs completed
Discipline Department APEGA registrants and permit-holding companies must practise engineering and geoscience skillfully, ethically, and professionally. They are guided by legislated regulations and a Code of Ethics outlined in the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act . When registrants and permit-holding companies fail to meet their obligations, they can be found guilty of unskilled practice or unprofessional conduct. They are held accountable through a recommended discipline order (RDO) or a formal hearing. • An RDO is an agreed-to order between APEGA and the registrant or company being investigated. The RDO summarizes the facts of the case and recommended sanctions, such as letters of reprimand, fines, training, or restrictions on practice. • If an investigated registrant or company does not agree to the findings and disciplinary actions in an RDO, a formal hearing is held. Evidence is presented to an expert panel of professional engineers and professional geoscientists, who determine what discipline, if any, is appropriate.
months for RDO completion
3 hearings scheduled 5 hearings completed 2 hearings adjourned (one member request; one COVID related)
19 active hearings
Compliance Department Only individuals and companies licensed by APEGA can legally practise engineering or geoscience in Alberta. To protect the public, we investigate violations and take action to stop those who illegally: • claim to be professional engineers or professional geoscientists • practise engineering or geoscience We introduced a new assessment system in 2020 to identify compliance cases as low, medium, or high risk. Priority is given to closing high-risk cases.
LOW RISK Little inconvenience or impact to the public
MEDIUM RISK Potential disruption to business
HIGH RISK Likelihood of significant public harm
1 case successful in the courts (none unsuccessful)
550 outstanding cases (backlog)
534 cases closed
84 active cases
8 cases with legal counsel, pending possible court action
COMPLIANCE CASES CLOSURE UP TO NOVEMBER 10, 2020
CASE CLOSURE REASONS
14% 5% 3%
CEASED TO VIOLATE
* 98 per cent of compliance cases were closed without litigation.
Appeal Board The APEGA Appeal Board independently reviews decisions made by the Discipline Committee, the Practice Review Board, the Investigative Committee, and the Board of Examiners. When an appeal is filed, a panel of professionals and a public member appointed by the provincial government determine if the original committee or board used a fair process and made a reasonable decision.
Joint Boards APEGA and the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) protect the public by jointly regulating professional technologists through the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act . Together, we manage: • registration practices • a professional discipline system • continuing professional development • practice reviews of practising professional technologists APEGA-ASET joint boards and committees have equal representation and similar functions to APEGA boards and committees.
Appeals can be made for: • registration refusals • investigative dismissals • discipline decisions
To reduce decision-making risk and improve consistency, APEGA provided adjudication training to Appeal Board, Discipline Committee, Investigative Committee, and Registration Executive Committee volunteers and staff. Forty-five attendees participated in the week-long training.
11 upheld 2 withdrawn 0 modified 2 overturned DECISION OUTCOMES
3 cases in progress
average time to render decision 259 days
2019 APPEALS 17 cases opened 11 cases closed
10 cases opened 9 cases closed 2018 APPEALS
256 days average time to render decision
average time to render decision 158 days
Examinations APEGA significantly expanded delivery of the National Professional Practice Exam (NPPE) in 2020, administering more than 8,200 exams. This is more than double the number of exams held in 2019 and a record number in the exam’s history.
The NPPE confirms applicants’ knowledge of professionalism, law, and ethics. Almost all Canadian engineering and geoscience regulators, including APEGA, require applicants to pass the NPPE before they can become licensed professionals. As a national leader, APEGA develops and oversees the NPPE for 13 partner jurisdictions across Canada. The addition of two new regulators this year resulted in the increase in exams. • Professional Engineers Ontario adopted the NPPE in June. • The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan adopted the NPPE as a pilot project in November.
NPPE exams are created using psychometric best practices. This is the science of designing, planning, and implementing defensible exams that are fair, valid, and reliable. Despite the increase in exams in 2020, we experienced no testing delays due to pandemic health measures. With support from our testing vendor, we successfully moved all exams online using remote proctoring. This allowed candidates to take the NPPE securely at home using a stable Internet connection and a webcam. Before April, less than one per cent of NPPEs were held remotely.
NUMBER OF CANDIDATES REGISTERED TO TAKE THE NPPE BY YEAR
PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE Our Professional Practice Department provides ongoing guidance and support to help APEGA’s licensed professionals and permit-holding companies meet their professional, technical, ethical, and educational obligations. By continually strengthening and enhancing our policies and processes—from practice reviews and practice standards to continuing professional development audits—we ensure public safety and uphold a high standard of engineering and geoscience practice in Alberta.
Practice Reviews Professional practice reviews are detailed and proactive assessments examining how APEGA permit-holding companies practise engineering and geoscience. APEGA works collaboratively with companies of all sizes and across different industries to better equip them with the tools they need to meet legislated regulatory requirements and to improve their practices. Reviews are usually completed on site, though several were conducted remotely in 2020 due to the pandemic. We completed 10 more reviews this year than we did in 2019. On-site practice reviews have engaged approximately 18,000 licensed professionals since we started this new process in 2018. Beyond practice reviews, an increasing number of permit-holding companies are reaching out to us for advice on how to improve their practices and meet their regulatory obligations. In 2020, we responded to more than 1,000 email inquiries.
Practice reviews look at a permit-holding company’s:
Professional Practice Management Plan
processes for authenticating professional work products, outsourcing, and quality control management of professional and technical resources management of professional documents
45 carried over from 2019 67 approved for review 37 closed
It was a good opportunity for our team to hear your thoughts and they felt the discussions were very constructive…we will begin implementing the upgrades to our PPMP.”
(Our team) felt the discussions were very constructive…we will begin implementing the upgrades to our Professional Practice Management Plan.”
— APEGA permit-holding company
— APEGA permit-holding company
Practice Standards We publish new and updated practice standards and guidelines to help APEGA registrants, permit-holding companies, and the public clearly understand the roles and responsibilities of engineering and geoscience professionals. • Our Authenticating Professional Work Products practice standard, published in July 2019, became enforceable in 2020. This practice standard clarifies how professionals can properly authenticate professional work products, including new sections on outsourcing and digital signatures. Since September 2019, a total of 10,871 registrants have completed our online authentication training, including 9,167 in 2020. • We gathered extensive feedback from registrants on our draft practice standard Relying on the Work of Others and Outsourcing . It outlines requirements for registrants and permit-holding companies when outsourcing and relying on professional services provided by others. A subject matter expert panel will review the feedback before the draft is submitted to APEGA Council for final approval.
Continuing Professional Development Program The continued competency of APEGA professionals is fundamental to self-regulation and our mission to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Our mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program ensures that licensed engineering and geoscience professionals maintain and expand their knowledge and skills throughout their careers. The program requires licensed professionals to record and report their professional development hours to demonstrate their commitment to ongoing learning. In 2020, we contacted almost 14,000 licensed professionals who did not meet the program’s requirements. However, with the disruption of regular professional development activities in 2020 due to the pandemic, all APEGA registrants were granted special consideration for one reporting period: • the annual requirement for CPD hours was lowered to 30 hours and only one category (from 80 hours and three categories) • CPD audits and licence cancellations for CPD violations were temporarily suspended
APEGA introduced Canada’s first mandatory Continuing Professional Development Program for professional engineers and geoscientists in 1997.
REGULATORY AFFAIRS Regulatory Affairs, a department within the Regulatory Division, addresses strategic and emerging regulatory challenges.
Its responsibilities include:
• coordinating initiatives spanning multiple departments within the Regulatory Division, such as developing and implementing an internal audit function • managing and supporting APEGA’s relationship with the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta joint boards and committees We worked closely with Alberta Municipal Affairs, the province’s Safety Codes Council, and the Architects Association of Alberta in 2020 to clarify legislative boundaries and interactions between the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act , the Safety Codes Act, and the Architects Act . We also worked together to complete the proposed new National Building Code – Alberta Edition schedules.
• governing and implementing APEGA’s appeals process
• developing and managing the modernization of the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act • managing government relations, APEGA position development, primary government contact, and coordination. This includes building relationships with external stakeholders, such as municipal and provincial governments
• coordinating and supporting Policy and Standards Task Force staff
• supporting APEGA Council regulatory policy and cross-regulatory development
• managing and coordinating emerging regulatory issues and responses within the Regulatory Division and other APEGA divisions, and with external stakeholders
APEGA’s role as a regulator has evolved across the decades to include programs and services that enhance our relationship with members, permit-holding companies, and the community. OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
Professional Sustainability APEGA’s Membership Services Division received a new name in 2020. Now the Professional Sustainability Division, it was expanded to include our Communications Department. The new division works closely with our Regulatory Division to increase awareness and understanding among members and permit- holding companies of their legislative and professional obligations. It also seeks to: • create meaningful connections with members and prospective members through relevant communications, outreach programs, career services, recognition, and volunteer opportunities that strengthen APEGA’s brand while strengthening and sustaining the professions • promote and enhance the value of APEGA’s brand, protect our reputation, and align our efforts to support APEGA’s strategic plan • offer products and services that provide added value to an APEGA membership • enhance relationships with our constituent associations across Canada
Member Benefits APEGA partners with companies and
organizations to offer our members discounts on personal, financial, insurance, and travel services. In 2020, several of our benefit providers offered relief measures on home and auto insurance and credits on cell-phone plans for APEGA members facing financial hardships. Approximately 15,000 members used one or more of our benefits programs.
When it launches in 2021, myAPEGA will provide members and permit holders with the virtual tools needed to connect with us well into the future. Features will include:
The way APEGA members and permit-holding companies connect with us has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. Our earliest members reached us through telegraph or mail, or on their rotary-dial telephones. Technological advances—such as fax machines, email, and the Internet—have made connecting with us easier and faster. The evolution continues with the development of myAPEGA, an online portal that will transform how members and permit-holding companies interact with us in a digital world. The portal will merge APEGA’s existing member and company self-service centres into a single site, enabling users to manage all their APEGA information in one place. The interface is adaptable, allowing us to make further enhancements moving forward. This multi-year project started in 2018 and neared completion in 2020. Quality testing with stakeholders continued through the pandemic.
personalized dashboards highlighting important APEGA information, activities, and notifications
an online annual declaration, customized by membership type and practising status, for members to acknowledge their regulatory obligations
a tool to track and report continuing professional development activities
online invoices, dues payments, receipts, and digital member cards
self-serve options for managing personal and company information and to update designations
automated workflow for chief operating officers and Responsible Members of permit-holding companies
online purchasing of certificates
VOICE OF OUR STAKEHOLDERS For the second consecutive year, we surveyed our professional members and the public to better understand their perceptions, opinions, and knowledge of APEGA.
Do engineers and geoscientists value and take pride in their APEGA membership? Do they know their regulatory obligations? We asked these questions to our members and the public. Even with COVID-19 impacting our centennial activities, we succeeded in
increasing awareness of APEGA and our centennial with all of our stakeholders. Insights from our findings will help us set priorities and develop more meaningful and effective programs, services, and communication.
APEGA MEMBER-SPECIFIC TARGETS
64% 70% 72% 86% 89% 90% 79% 88% 80% 49% 55% 58%
Pride in profession
Pride in membership
Pride in profession
Pride in membership
N / A 20% 19% N / A 4% 6% 91% 90% 91% 92% 92% 90% 82% 87% 86% 93% 97% 96% N / A 19% 25% N / A 23% 31%
Know what engineers do
Know what geoscientists do
Recall seeing any APEGA advertisement
Recall seeing an APEGA social media advertisement
Recall seeing an APEGA billboard
Aware APEGA was celebrating a centennial
Believe professional engineers are as trustworthy as doctors or accountants
Believe professional geoscientists are as trustworthy as doctors or accountants
OUTREACH Tapping into students’ natural curiosity and enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is what APEGA’s outreach events and programs are all about. Through immersive activities, we introduce inquisitive young minds to engineering and geoscience professions and encourage them to explore the exciting career possibilities in these fields. Many of the challenges our world faces—today and over the coming decades—will be solved by these future dreamers and creators.
Kindergarten to Grade 12
NSERC Grant We received a $250,000, three-year grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada PromoScience Program to develop and expand our STEM programs across Alberta. The funding will also enable us to respond to dynamic conditions so we can safely deliver our programs and events. We’ll expand the APEGA Science Olympics to larger venues in urban and rural communities across the province, enabling us to reach more students. When it’s safe to do so, we’ll expand our STEMester pilot project—which connects Grade 10 students to professional engineers and geoscientists—from one classroom to four. This will give more students the opportunity to work with professionals and visit field sites, makerspaces, and post-secondary institutions. We’ll grow our Teacher Professional Development Program, helping K–12 educators create curriculum-based engineering and geoscience activities for their classrooms.
Our commitment begins with our K-12 outreach initiatives, which aim to inspire a lifelong love of engineering and geoscience. We engage students in interactive, hands-on experiences that build their communication, teamwork, and critical- thinking skills. Before schools closed in March, APEGA’s Edmonton Science Olympics reached a new milestone in February with 225 teams taking part, an increase of 29 teams from 2019. Our annual Rock & Fossil Clinic, which introduces children to geoscience, was held virtually for the first time. Professional geoscientists and university geoscience students shared their passion for geology with more than 1,000 online attendees. Universities Preparing university students to become successful engineering and geoscience professionals requires more than classroom learning. APEGA hosts networking mixers and professional development events to give undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to meet experienced APEGA professionals and get expert advice on everything from résumé writing to job-interview techniques. We also hold ethics workshops for graduating students to help them understand the regulatory responsibilities and requirements of becoming licensed APEGA members.
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