First published in the North of 60 Mining & Exploration Review 2024
The Regulation of Professional Engineering and Geoscience in the Northwest Territories is Changing
What You Need to Know
The Northwest Territories and Nunavut Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (NAPEG) is heralding changes coming to the regulation of the professional practice of engineering and geoscience in the Northwest Territories. Here’s what you need to know.
What does NAPEG do?
In the public interest, NAPEG regulates and supports the professional practice of engineering and geoscience in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. NAPEG has been the administrator of the Acts that legislate the regulations for these professions in the territories since 1979.
On October 3rd, 2023, after many years of collaborative work between NAPEG and the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly passed Bill 93. This thrusted the new Practice of Engineering, Geoscience and Applied Science Technology Act into action. It included many of NAPEG’s recommendations.
Why did the Act need updating?
Bill 93 repealed and replaced the former Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act with a new and modernized Act that will match industry standards in the territory to other Canadian jurisdictions. The new Act gives NAPEG authority and duties that have become common in other professional associations in Canada.
These changes will allow NAPEG to better protect public safety by ensuring these professions are held to the highest standard of professionalism, while improving much-needed labour mobility to the territory.
What has changed and when will it be implemented?
The new Act will require significant work by NAPEG drafting bylaws and new policies — work that has already begun and will continue to roll out in a staged approach over the next two to three years. The incoming changes will concentrate on . . .
Improving Labour Mobility to the NWT
Many of the changes in the new Act are geared towards making it easier for professionals to apply for NAPEG membership to work in the North. Once implemented, it will reduce barriers faced by internationally-trained professionals or those coming to the Northwest Territories from other Canadian provinces or territories. This includes:
- Allow NAPEG to accept academic qualification reviews from other Canadian engineering and geoscience regulators for Registrants-In-Training.
- Give NAPEG the ability to implement Limited Licenses to those with foreign credentials or existing Limited Licenses with another Canadian engineering or geoscience regulator to improve labour mobility.
- Extend full NAPEG membership to engineers and geoscientists who are only in the North part-time.
Strengthening Professional Development Requirements
NAPEG has been unable to mandate regular professional development for professional engineers and geoscientists until the introduction of the new Act. Once implemented, NAPEG will ensure that licensed professionals are keeping their skill sets up-to-date in the interest of public safety.
- Legislated professional development requirements for licensed professionals, ensuring skillsets are kept up-to-date.
- Enhanced enforcement powers for professionals who don’t keep up with their professional development.
Modernizing Disciplinary Processes
The Act will give NAPEG comparable authority to other Canadian jurisdictions when it comes to disciplinary actions and the management of complaints. The new standards will help NAPEG provide greater transparency and accountability to the public.
- Give NAPEG explicit authorization to publish disciplinary findings publicly to keep the public informed and safe.
- Allow NAPEG discipline hearings to issue custom disciplines for members guilty of misconduct (instead of immediate suspension), and to dismiss frivolous complaints.
- Add oversight to NAPEG’s Discipline Committee by adding lay members, requiring publication of decisions, and updating rules for appeals to the courts.
Giving Applied Science Technologists a Regulatory Home in NWT
Applied Science Technologists and Technicians do design, construction, and testing under the supervision of an engineer. Prior to the new Act, these occupations were not regulated in the Northwest Territories, but they were in nine provinces and Yukon.
The occupations were deemed to be too small in the Northwest Territories to self-govern, so they will be regulated as part of NAPEG when these provisions come into force. NAPEG looks forward to warmly welcoming the incoming applied science technologists and technician licensees in the next year or two. In the meantime, technicians and technologists registered in other provinces and territories may continue to use their current, unregulated titles in the NWT and Nunavut.
What comes next?
Stay informed as NAPEG rolls out these changes with the Government of the Northwest Territories over the next two years by following us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, subscribing to our quarterly newsletter The NAPEG Circuit (CLICK HERE), or by keeping tabs on our website.