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Toward clarity and unity in engineering and technology practice rights

2019.03.28

In a recent press release, Technology Professionals Canada responded to Engineers Canada’s Principles for development of a regulatory regime for granting engineering technologists independent practice rights.

One of Engineers Canada’s key roles is to encourage dialogue across the provinces and territories, synthesizing and seeking consensus on key issues affecting engineering in Canada. We’ve done this successfully on a variety of topics, including engineering educational standards, demand side legislation, and professional practice in software engineering.

Currently, some provincial and territorial governments are considering practice rights for technologists. In support of this work, Engineers Canada has worked with engineering regulators to develop a set of principles to help inform this work.

These principles represent a national consensus on a guiding framework by which practice rights could be granted to technologists. They are not specific to any one act, but rather provide clarity on how to regulate in the public interest and represent the collective view of Canada’s engineering regulators on how such a regulatory regime should be established.

The four principles state:

  1. All work that falls within the definition of the practice of engineering should be regulated by a single government-designated regulator whose mandate includes regulating the practice of engineering in the public interest.
  2. Individuals who have acquired the necessary competencies by virtue of their academic training and professional experience, who can be held accountable for their work and who have met all of the licensing requirements set by the provincial/territorial regulators can be authorized to practice engineering either within a full or limited scope of practice.
  3. In cases of overlapping practice of engineering with members of other regulated professions (e.g. foresters, agrologists, architects) the respective regulators must work together to ensure the public welfare is protected.
  4. Defined scopes of practice (for the purpose of limited licences) within the broad range of engineering activities must be prepared by engineering regulators and must be understandable and enforceable.

The four principles work together to form a framework for considering independent practice rights for technologists. But foundational is the first principle: all work that falls into the definition of engineering must be regulated by a single, government-designated body.

With the current rate of technological change, the border between engineering and technology is growing more difficult to define. We are concerned that separating the regulation of these closely-related fields, where professionals work together on a daily basis, will be confusing and inefficient for practitioners, governments, and the public. Canadians must have confidence in a logical, consistent, and accountable regime for ensuring the protection of their safety and interests.

Our goal is to help every engineering regulator in Canada deliver on their primary duty: protection of the public. Adherence to this mandate has created a safe and effective system for Canadians, and established Canada as a world leader in the regulation of engineering. We welcome the opportunity to continue to support the engineering regulators and their governments in developing new and improved frameworks that will continue to deliver this high quality of regulation.