The Government of Alberta has introduced legislation that would change the province’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act to enable technology companies and workers to use the title “software engineer” without holding a professional engineering licence from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA).

Tabled in the provincial legislature on November 6, 2023, Bill 7 proposes the following amendments to the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act:

  • Adding an exemption for the title “software engineer” and any related titles specified in the regulation.
  • Affirming the title “professional engineer” or abbreviation “P.Eng.” remains restricted to professional engineers, licensees and permit holders registered with APEGA.
  • Allowing the minister to make regulations prescribing titles related to “software engineer” for similar exemption.

These proposed changes to the Engineering and Geosciences Professions Act will set Alberta apart from other provinces and territories in Canada. In July 2022, Engineers Canada published a letter signed by all 12 provincial and territorial engineering regulators reiterating that all were aligned on the use of the “software engineer” and related titles in Canada. All provinces and territories restrict the use of “software engineer,” “computer engineer,” and related titles that prefix “engineer” with IT-related disciplines and practices to those licensed by the applicable provincial or territorial regulator. To practise engineering in Canada, or to use the title “engineer,” you must hold and maintain a licence from one of Canada 12 engineering regulators.

The Alberta government argues that the proposed changes to the use of the title are necessary in order to support the growth of Alberta’s technology sector, which they say has seen unprecedented growth and that by 2030 will contribute $5 billion annually to the provincial GDP and create 20,000 jobs. Technology companies have been advocating for these changes, arguing that use of the “software engineer” title will enable them to attract and retain skilled talent.

In a statement, APEGA registrar and CEO Jay Nagendran reiterated that “title protection is vital to preserving public safety and maintaining high standards of practice and ethics” and shared that the regulator had participated in multiple meetings with the provincial government, offering potential alternatives to the legislation that was ultimately tabled.

The Government of Alberta has said that despite the proposed changes to the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act laid out in Bill 7, any work that involves the practice of engineering would continue to be fully regulated by APEGA.