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The Alberta government has backed the province’s tech sector with a new proposal to allow software engineers to call themselves engineers, even if they are not trained and licensed as engineers.

The province’s tabled legislation, Bill 7, provides that individuals or firms who use the title “engineer” in combination with terms like “software” or similar phrases will not be taken to have represented that they are entitled to engage in the practice of engineering.

“This is obviously a huge win for the wider innovation community in Alberta,” said Jessica Sinclair, director of government affairs in Alberta for the Canadian Council of Innovators, a national business association. “It signals to us that there's an appetite to take Alberta to the next level in terms of being a jurisdiction where startup companies can really scale up their operations." 

Three days after the proposed legislation was tabled, a provincial court ruled in favour of Jobber, an Edmonton-based software company, in a lawsuit brought by Alberta’s engineering regulator, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). The regulator had sued Jobber after the company refused to stop posting job ads for software engineers and other software development engineering roles while not being an engineering services firm.

Alberta tech companies, like Jobber, had said they would struggle to compete for tech talent if the court ruled that they could only use the term “software engineer” to refer to individuals licensed as engineers, Canadian Affairs reported in July. People with a range of educational backgrounds and credentials, including software developers and software technicians, perform work in the software field.

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Hadassah Alencar is a bilingual journalist based near Montreal. She recently completed the journalism program at Concordia University, where she worked as a teaching assistant and became editor-in-chief...