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Court Ruling Confirms Title Protection Over “Engineer”

Posted on January 29, 2024
Court Ruling Confirms Title Protection Over “Engineer”
A December 1, 2023, BC Supreme Court decision affirmed protection over the title “engineer” under the Professional Governance Act (PGA).

The decision supported the civil claim Engineers and Geoscientists BC brought against Saanich politician David Hilderman, who has never been a registrant, for using the term “engineer” on his political promotional materials.

In his decision, Justice Jan Brongers noted the specific sections of the PGA which refer to the title “engineer” and found that registrants of Engineers and Geoscientists BC are “given the exclusive right to use certain reserved titles, namely: (a) “professional engineer;” (b) “professional engineering licensee;” and (c) “engineer in training.”

Justice Brongers noted that section 52(3) of the PGA “...effectively prohibits non-registrants from using reserved titles or other names that express or imply either membership in the regulatory body, or authority to practice the profession regulated by that body.”

Hilderman launched an appeal December 29, 2023, to the BC Court of Appeals.

Non Registrant Referred to Himself as an Engineer

Hilderman was the People’s Party of Canada candidate for the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding in the federal election of September 2021. On his website and in his promotional materials, Hilderman described himself as an “engineer” with a Bachelor of Applied Sciences degree. Hilderman’s possible misuse of title was brought to the attention of Engineers and Geoscientists BC, who then launched an investigation.

On December 7, 2021, Engineers and Geoscientists BC sent a letter to Hilderman stating he was breaching the PGA and demanded he remove the title “engineer” from his online materials and not refer to himself as an “engineer."

Hilderman’s initial reply suggested he might comply, but two weeks later, Hilderman wrote back saying he disagreed. He said he did not represent himself as a professional engineer and “the mere mention of my educational background in the context of a political campaign is not contrary to the PGA.” After further correspondence, Hilderman still refused to comply.

On September 13, 2022, Engineers and Geoscientists BC filed a civil claim against Hilderman in the BC Supreme Court. Engineers and Geoscientists BC asserted Hilderman breached s. 52(3) of the PGA and sought a permanent injunction in relation to Hilderman's use of the title “engineer.”

Usage Was within Prohibition

While Hilderman stated he was not implying he was a “professional engineer,” the judge determined that by saying he was an “engineer” with an applied sciences degree and engineering experience, doing contract engineering work and having worked in the electronics industry, such behaviors “cumulatively come within the prohibition.”

Justice Brongers ultimately found Hilderman breached the misuse of title prohibitions of the PGA and granted judgment in favour of Engineers and Geoscientists BC. The court also issued a permanent injunction against Hilderman prohibiting him from using the title “engineer” or other language in any manner that expresses or implies that he is a registrant of Engineers and Geoscientists BC or authorized to practice engineering.

Engineers and Geoscientists BC processes approximately 200 misuse of title and unauthorized practice files per year. Learn more about unauthorized practice and misuse of title.

Photo: Stock Studio 4477/ Shutterstock