Our History

The Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia (APGNS)
A Brief History

by:  David C. Carter, P.Geo. and Patrick J.C. Ryall, P.Geo
Members of the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia (APGNS) will recall that for several years prior to 2001, there had been a series of discussions and meetings regarding the regulation of the practice of geoscience in Nova Scotia. On several occasions there was consideration given to revising The Nova Scotia Engineering Profession Act to enable the registration of Professional Geoscientists along with Professional Engineers under one Act that would encompass both professions.
The process actually goes back to 1990, when there wasa movement across Canada for the registration of professionalgeoscientists in joint associations with engineers. This movement followed the long-established example of the engineering association in Alberta. Meetings within the Nova Scotiageoscience community lead to the formation of an ad-hoc committee of geoscientists (the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia (APGNS)) and discussions with the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia (APENS) in 1992.
As a result of these discussions, the principle of a joint Association was presented and approved at the APENS Annual General Meeting in September of 1994. It was initially proposed that geoscientists could be included and regulated within a revised engineering profession act, however, after much work, an Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, sponsored by the Honorable Jay Abbass, MLA, was submitted and passed first reading in the Legislature in 1996. The revised act was withdrawn later that year because of unresolved issues between APENS and the Nova Scotia Association of Architects (NSAA).     APGNS is established and mandated by the Geoscience Profession Act to register Professional Geoscientists and to regulate professional geoscience practice in Nova Scotia. APGNS accepts and registers members as Professional Geoscientists, Members-in-Training, grants Licence-to-Practice as well as Certificate of Authorization. Registration as a member in APGNS is under terms which are similar to those for Professional Geoscientists and Professional Engineers in other Canadian jurisdictions, both joint engineering and geoscience associations as well as geoscience-only associations (i.e. Ontario and Quebec). APGNS applicants must meet the specific educational requirements, developed by Canadian Geoscience Standards Board (CGSB) of the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists (CCPG) and adopted by APGNS.
Applicants must document a minimum of four (4) years relevant, progressive work experience, and must successfully complete the National Professional Practice Examination (NPPE).  Members are also required to maintain and annually demonstrate continuing professional competence as well as to re-affirm acceptance of the APGNS Code of Ethics.  By this time, events on the national stage mandated immediate action to establish professional geoscience legislation in Nova Scotia, to register professional geoscientists, and create a regulatory body, the association of professional geoscientists. The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) implemented National Instrument 43-101, which required that any geological reports for public release be prepared by a “Qualified Person” or “QP”.  A QP is defined by NI 43-101 as a Professional Engineer or Professional Geoscientist who is a member in good standing of a professional association, which is established by statute and has disciplinary powers. As a result, APGNS developed and submitted the Geoscience Profession Act, again sponsored by the Honorable James DeWolfe, MLA. The new act was modeled on the work and the proposed revisions to the engineering and geoscience professions act as well as professional legislation in other provincial professions acts. The Geoscience Profession Act received royal assent on May 30, 2002.   Once again there was an intensive effort by representatives of APENS and APGNS and this resulted in An Act Respecting the Engineering and Geoscience Professions which was sponsored by the Honorable James DeWolfe, MLA. That proposed act went to first reading in April of 2001. Work was continued at the Committee level to draft the regulations and by-laws for a joint Association. But once again the Act was withdrawn because of unresolved issues between APENS and NSAA.  While working with APENS toward the regulation of professional geoscience practice under joint legislation, APGNS was granted observer status and ultimately was admitted as a Constituent Association (CA) of the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists (CCPG) and the Canadian Geoscience Standards Board (CGSB). This participation provided significant insight into the form and function of professional regulation in Canadian and international jurisdictions.  By late 1999, APENS was again working on a revision of the Engineering Profession Act.
This revision would address a number of issues, one of which, in response to actions in other jurisdictions, was to include Professional Geoscientists. Legislation to register and regulate Professional Geoscientists was already in place in joint Associations in six provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Newfoundland), as well as in the Northwest Territories. Work was also underway that would lead to legislation and geoscience-only associations in Ontario and Quebec.  By this time the Nova Scotia Department of Environment (NSDOE) was moving to require a professional designation for individuals undertaking environmental assessment, remediation and compliance work in the province. In response, the APGNS, was registered under the Nova Scotia Societies Act and was set up to provide recognition for suitably qualified geoscientists. The NSDOE agreed to accept an APGNS registered Professional Geoscientist (P.Geo.) as an environmental site professional under the guidelines for management of contaminated sites in Nova Scotia and also to identify APGNS as a transitional society leading to a legislated professional association.