Canada’s engineering regulators united in opposition to Alberta’s Bill 7
EP&T MagazineElectronics Engineering Software Regulations & Standards Engineering Alberta Bill-7 engineering Professions Act regulators
Group says proposed legislation shows “lack of regard for the ethical commitment and expertise demanded of an engineer”
Engineers Canada and the country’s provincial and territorial engineering regulators sent a letter to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith expressing strong opposition to the government’s decision to change the province’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act. The changes would 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).
“While we support the growth of Alberta’s technology sector, we firmly believe that allowing the use of the term ‘engineer’ by unlicensed individuals undermines the public trust and compromises safety,” said Gerard McDonald, MBA, P.Eng., ICD.D, Chief Executive Officer of Engineers Canada.
The letter emphasizes that the title of ‘engineer’ is a protected term in Canada, meant to ensure that professionals have met rigorous standards that safeguard public interest.
As the development of software and computer technology grows exponentially, it is more important than ever that the public to be assured that those responsible for designing critical technologies, which impact public health, finance, and quality of life, can be held accountable for unskilled practices or unethical behaviour through a professional code of conduct.
“Engineering is not just a title, it’s a responsibility to the public. Across Canada, only those individuals who meet this high standard are allowed to call themselves an engineer,” says McDonald. “This is a national issue, and this decision sets Alberta apart from the standard practices observed in other Canadian provinces and territories.”
Risks eroding the established framework
The open-ended nature of Bill 7 is also concerning. As drafted, it would allow the government to extend the exemption to other titles through regulations.
“This exemption and the open-ended nature of the regulations set a dangerous precedent for other jurisdictions in Canada,” says McDonald. “It risks eroding the established framework of professional regulation and could extend beyond engineering, impacting fields such as medicine and health, among others.”
Engineers Canada urges Premier Smith to reconsider the changes, suggesting that there are alternative ways to support Alberta’s tech sector growth that do not risk public safety or the integrity of the engineering profession.