Provincial engineering technology professional associations unite in quest for legislated practice rights

08, Oct, 2020

EDMONTON, Oct. 8, 2020 –The recent expansion of Technology Professionals Canada (TPC) from a partnership of four Canadian provinces to nine is likely to yield benefits for engineering technology professionals across the province and the Albertans whose safety they serve and protect.

The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) believes this united front from coast to coast will help move the needle on a major priority: influencing formal government recognition within existing legislation of the scope of practice and professional practice rights of engineering technology professionals. With nine provinces now in agreement on a statement of practice rights, there is greater chance of achieving this universally.

Engineering technology is the only profession in Alberta whose scope of practice or role and rights related to the education and experience of engineering technologists is not defined within legislation. This analogue reality in a province known for being progressive may come as a surprise, especially given that all other professions - such as clinical dental technologists and technicians, combined laboratory and X-ray technicians, medical laboratory technologists, radiological technologists, and ultrasound technologists - have their scope of practice defined within legislation.

ASET has long been advocating for changes to the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act (EGPA) that would recognise the role of engineering technologists and the vital work they do to protect public safety, as well as the ability for them, in some circumstances, to work independently from professional engineers - the latter whose scope of practice is clearly defined within legislation. ASET’s TPC partner in BC, ASTTBC, is also actively advocating for scope of practice recognition.

ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh is optimistic that ASET and its Canadian counterparts will eventually get there because another goal for which ASET was a key driver has already seen fruition: the establishment of a single national accreditation body, Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC). Officially launched in 2015, TAC accredits engineering technology and applied science programs at post-secondary educational institutions, having raised the bar on education accreditation.

“TPC came into being initially to establish TAC and succeeded. TPC persuaded all provinces to go with one national standard through TAC,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “National accreditation goes hand in glove with transferability between provinces, and practice rights. TPC’s 55,000 members are a professional force to be reckoned with, and a huge benefit to the public now that we are all on the same page about everything that counts when it comes to public safety.”

ASET member Sebastian Potoniec believes that defining the scope of practice for he and his fellow engineering technology professionals is long overdue. Potoniec, a programmer for industrial processes in oil and gas, says that, in his time in the field, the lines between an engineering technologist like himself and a professional engineer have been quite muddy.

“I work in an office comprised primarily of engineers. However, we all perform the same job function. Many of the responsibilities that come with the professional engineer certification also apply to me,” said Potoniec. “Provincial legislation should recognise the scope of practice of engineering technologists who often work collaboratively on projects with professional engineers.”

ASET has recently been sharing with Albertans amazing stories about its remarkable members who embody intelligence, ingenuity and innovation, even in a time of crisis.

“Giving Albertans an opportunity to get to know these bright and talented professionals - whose work has a significant, positive impact on so many aspects of our daily lives - is a first step towards bolstering recognition of the profession,” added Cavanaugh. “We hope the next steps will include improved recognition by provincial governments of the scope of practice and practice rights of professionals whose service - often in the interest of public safety - we could not live without.”

Nothing works in Alberta without ASET members; they are the behind-the-scenes, hard-working women and men who keep this province safe. ASET members represent a wide range of sectors, including civil engineering and construction, avionics, biomedical, chemical, computers, electrical, environmental, geological, instrumentation, oil and gas, and telecommunications. From the moment Albertans wake up in the morning and turn on a light switch or shower until the end of the day, they rely on the work of these professionals.

Technicians install cable and phone, monitor traffic, work in labs, and serve as process workers in refineries and manufacturing. Technologists design plans with engineers, create commercial buildings and return well sites properly to nature. They ensure fast-acting telephone networks, smart bus connections, proper water pressure at home, perfectly clean water to drink, reliable natural gas service and electrical power, smooth roads on which to drive, and responsible oil and gas exploration/production/processing/and distribution.

About TPC
TPC represents nine provincial engineering technology associations, making up over 93 per cent of registered engineering technology professionals across Canada. Its primary function is to protect the Canadian public by regulating the conduct of engineering technology professionals.

About ASET
ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 16,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries. 

Media Contact:  Michele Penz, Calico Communications for ASET 

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