Only individuals registered with Agrologists Manitoba are authorized to work as an Agrologist in Manitoba or use the title “P.Ag.” or “Tech.Ag.” as per section 15 of the Agrologists Act of Manitoba. See Public Registry of Agrology Professionals.
Unauthorised Practice/Registration Compliance
Agrology is one of the older practicing professions in Canada. In addition to the wide range of activities conducted in the food production practice area, Agrology professionals are relied on for a significant amount of environmental work in western Canada. Agronomy, followed by public institutional support (education and government) to the agriculture and natural resource sectors are the largest practice areas in Manitoba.
An extensive suite of professional services with recognizable value is being delivered every day in Canada by about 10,000 registered practitioners (about 650 of whom are registered in Manitoba). Employers, governments, and registered/licensed agrology practitioners in Canada have raised questions about individuals practicing agrology who are required to be regulated professionals but are not registered as Agrologists with their respective provincial regulator. Those individuals are in breach of the provincial law that requires registration if they are doing activities (practices) as defined by that province’s legislation and have not been granted an exemption from registration by Agrologists Manitoba (the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists).
The three Prairie agrology regulators have discussed whether a common approach to registration compliance would be workable. Because compliance is fundamentally a legal concept, we carefully worked through the similarities and differences of legislation in search of a common approach. Despite best efforts and many similarities, there were significant enough differences in legislation and mandates, respective current approaches to registration compliance, and available resources, that a Prairie region approach to registration compliance that works immediately did not emerge. However, Agrologists Manitoba will continue to look for ways of working with other provincial regulators and in the meantime, we will continue to share information and experiences that will pay off in the future.
In Manitoba, the Council’s decision to authorize use of money from the reserve fund is a signal that more will be done here. Council is interested in an approach to unauthorized practice/registration compliance that balances public risk, adherence to the law, and response to information or complaints from licensed members or from the public about individuals who may be practicing agrology and who are not registered. Council has been clear that it is not interested in aggressive “crack down” tactics and the significant resources required to continuously track down potential violators. The approach combines continuous communication of registration requirements to employers and the general public, encouraging word of mouth education (by registered members), and targeted, specific approaches at the college and university level.
Agrologists Manitoba has already begun adding to those efforts by deploying the reserve allocation referred to at the AGM. We recently hired an individual whose contract work includes fleshing out information about individuals who may be practicing but not registered, and extending information acquired from other sources. The main aim is to create verified, factual information for follow-up.
In the agrology space in Manitoba, there are unlikely to be many intentional “pretenders” –those who hold themselves out as being qualified Agrologists and know they need to be registered, and who willfully ignore the legal requirement when it applies to them. Our experience is that a lack of information is the most common root cause of non-registration. Persistent feedback from the Jurisprudence and Ethics seminar (an Agrologist-in-Training requirement), is that information about the Agrology profession is minimal or non-existent in college and university. This is unlike many other professions where information about the regulatory system, including the licensure or registration requirement, and the value of the profession to the public, is incorporated into the formal education stream. (We are working on that and making progress toward purposeful, collaborative relationships with the post-secondary education institutions.) Since most of those unregistered individuals are university or college educated and meet the registration requirements, registration should not be an issue.
When we do identify someone, who may be in breach of “The Agrologists Act”, we make contact with the person or employer, determine what the situation is, and point to registration requirements if the circumstances warrant. We have found that some individuals are unaware of the difference between the license/registration requirement, and a voluntary certification that may assist in marketing products and services. It is also worth noting that individuals (not companies) are accountable under “The Agrologists Act” of Manitoba.
Council recently created opportunities to become informed about the process of identifying a potential offense, evaluating information, and deploying legal tools available under “The Agrologists Act”. If a person is practicing agrology as defined in “The Agrologists Act”, voluntary compliance is expected. However, Council is in position to use legal tools when voluntary compliance (always preferable for all parties) is refused.
Council will continue to oversee action related to unauthorized practice/registration compliance and will keep members informed about this important area of regulation in the public interest.