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Engineers Canada urges Alberta to reconsider change to rules around ‘engineer’ title

A group representing Canada’s engineering profession is urging Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to reconsider a proposal that aims to loosen restrictions around who can use the “engineer” title.

Engineers Canada said Friday that it opposes changes to the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act that would allow 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.

In a press release and letter to Smith, Engineers Canada chief executive Gerard McDonald said Bill 7, which would carve out an exception and allow software engineers and those with similar roles permission to use the title, undermines the public trust and compromises safety.

“This exemption and the open-ended nature of the regulations set a dangerous precedent for other jurisdictions in Canada,” said McDonald.

“It risks eroding the established framework of professional regulation and could extend beyond engineering, impacting fields such as medicine and health, among others.”

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McDonald said he supports the growth of Alberta’s technology sector but wants to ensure those designing critical systems impacting health, finance and quality of life are held accountable for their actions and potential unethical behaviour.

He worries the current state of the bill tabled on Tuesday would allow the government to extend the exemption to other titles through regulations.

Smith’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bill came after Canadian tech companies spent the last year arguing for Alberta to loosen restrictions around the engineering title because they thought current rules put them at a disadvantage when recruiting talent.

More than 30 tech companies signed a letter last October, seeking a change that would allow them to more freely use the engineer title in Alberta.

However, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta has fought such a change, even filing lawsuits against tech companies that use variations of the engineer title.

It has argued the term “engineer” comes with a licensed and ethical set of responsibilities and accountabilities akin to other regulated professions, such as health and legal roles.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2023.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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