From the ALS News Vault: Personal Opinions on Three Subjects – Still Relevant Today?

I have wondered throughout the year whether it is appropriate for me to express my own opinions or whether I am restricted to the opinions of Council. In thinking this through, it came to me that I am unable to have a great deal of input at Council, as it is the president's job to ensure that all members of Council have a fair chance to express their opinion.
So, I have decided to express my personal opinions (and not necessarily those of Council) on three subjects which I feel are important to the membership.
My first comment is in regard to president's travel. It will have cost approximately $19,000 for Fay and me to travel to the various meetings across the country (Editor’s Note: president’s expenses in 2022-2023 are now budgeted at $35,500). I can honestly say that I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge which can be of benefit to the Association. But next year, I will be put out to pasture to chair the Discipline Committee.
When I was in Victoria for the BCLS convention, I attended a portion of the Canadian Council of Land Surveyors (CCLS) (Editor’s Note: CCLS was the forerunner of today’s Professional Surveyors Canada (PSC). The land survey professional regulatory organizations were the members of CCLS while individual land surveyors are the members of the advocacy-focused PSC.) meeting which followed the British Columbia meeting. It was clear we have another group travelling at the expense of individual associations (through the CCLS levy). Surely, there must be some way to ensure that each association gets its money’s worth from its president’s travel and that CCLS is active in dealing with issues of national interest – and not duplicate either group’s efforts.
How can this be done? At one end of the scale, it is my opinion that, at the very least, each CCLS director should also be a member of Council of that provincial association (which is the case in about three provinces now) and that the director should serve a three-year term (which is already in the CCLS bylaws, but not always followed).
At the other end of the scale, it is my opinion that the provincial presidents meet for at least four hours at each provincial convention to come up with national issues which we could spend our money on through CCLS. Presently, CCLS receives funds from each association (based on the number of active members) and they design their work to fit that budget-regardless of what important matters of national interest arise. Imagine what a significant impact surveyors could make on title insurance, for example, if all the money that each association has been spending on that subject had been collectively given to CCLS.
CCLS would then act like any other working committee of an association. In other words, they would meet in the most cost-effective manner and take action based on the decisions of, and empowered by, the provincial presidents.
I have asked the provincial presidents and the CCLS president, when they travel to Alberta for our annual meeting, to be prepared to discuss this matter.
My second comment is in regard to practice review. Systematic Practice Review is close to completing the first round review of all practitioners. As such, Council asked the Practice Review Board to assess its findings for Round One and make recommendations for Round Two. Council has now received the Board's Round One report. It was generally felt that the report was very factual, detailed and concise. In addition, there were a number of surprising findings - 34% of all plans reviewed had some boundary-related deficiency. There were several others. (Editor’s Note: The Systematic Practice Review program is the forerunner of today’s Continuing Competency Review program. Under Bill 23 – The Professional Governance Act – the term ‘continuing competency’ is essentially used to refer to mandatory continuing education. As such, ‘systematic practice review’ may be making a comeback.)
Council has not yet received the Board's recommendations for Round Two. It is hoped that they will be available for the upcoming Council meeting and the regional meetings. When you get the Round One and Round Two reports, I strongly encourage you to review them carefully. The Systematic Practice Review program is fundamental to the Association's objective of "protecting the public's interest." Once you have read the report, you will likely have several questions- like I did - about the findings of Round One and the proposals for Round Two. Ask them! The SPR Panel Discussion is your opportunity to ask your questions and get the answers about Systematic Practice Review. Council will be listening to the comments made at the Panel Discussion before endorsing the start of Round Two.
My third comment is in regard to the proposed Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program. At last year's Annual General Meeting, the membership approved appointing "... a subcommittee of the Professional Development Committee to prepare a regulation for presentation and adoption at the 1998 Annual General Meeting." Since that time, the CPD subcommittee has been working hard to provide the details of a program that was approved in principle by the membership. They have subsequently developed a draft amendment to the Land Surveyors Act, a draft regulation, and a seven-page CPD guideline and instruction booklet. (Editor’s Note: Under Bill 23 – The Professional Governance Act – each professional regulatory organization must have a ‘continuing competency’ program – or mandatory continuing education program – in place. However, a ‘practice review’ program is not mandatory.)
It seems that, while the concept of mandatory continuing education is a good one, the difficulty can be in the details. I am sure that this subject is one that will provoke a great deal of debate at the annual general meeting. Once again, I encourage you to read the documentation carefully and make sure that you agree with the categories, the points and ratios, and the penalties. If you do not, you must make your views heard at the meeting. You must feel comfortable with this program as it has the potential to affect your membership in the Association.
The 1998 Annual General Meeting of the Association is going to be a lively one. I look forward to seeing you there!
Stan Longson, ALS
Reprinted from the March 1998 Issue of ALS News