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Professional Portability

Working Across Provincial and Territorial Jurisdictions

Planners are required to register in a province or territory where they are living and/or working (i.e. if a person is registered in Ontario as an RPP, they can’t take a contract to work in Alberta and refer to themselves as an RPP, unless they are also registered with the Alberta Professional Planning Institute). There are penalties for using professional planning credentials in a jurisdiction that an individual is not registered in.  Secondary memberships are available across the PTIAs for those who work in more than one jurisdiction. Contact your PTIA for more information.

Since the inception of the profession in Canada, Canadian professional planning members have enjoyed the ability to move and work across the country with their memberships and certifications recognized and respected. This includes Quebec, dependent on proficiency in the French language. The seamless fabric of “portability,” however, is actually woven from strands of complex history behind the scenes.

Originally formed as chapters or “affiliates” of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), the Provincial and Territorial Institutes and Associations (PTIAs) signed “affiliation agreements” with CIP to ensure the right of members to easily transfer from one affiliate to another – more easily than was often the case in other professions. Under the Canadian Constitution Act 1982, the regulation of “professions” was deemed to be a provincial jurisdiction, and PTIAs were made responsible for the self-regulation of the planning profession.

During the “Planning for the Future” initiative of 2006 to 2012, a legislative task force proposed that all PTIAs adopt the “Registered Professional Planner” (RPP) designation. With the exceptions of Quebec, which uses ‘urbanistes’, Nova Scotia, which uses Licensed Professional Planner (LPP), and Newfoundland and Labrador, which still uses MCIP®, all other provinces have adopted RPP. In those provinces where there is regulation specific to the planning profession, those corresponding PTIAs are legislatively authorized to self-regulate the profession in the public interest. This includes responsibility for granting the right to the RPP protected title, and in most cases a defined process for filing a complaint against a member, as well as a disciplinary process.

Over the last several decades, with the introduction of new international and domestic trade agreements, several changes governing portability have shaped the profession’s processes for membership transfer. However, on July 21, 2017, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement came into force, enshrining the right for provincial certifications to be recognized across Canada.

Through the on-going commitment and work of CIP, the PTIAs, the Standards Committee, and the Professional Standards Board, the implementation of these rights continues to be clarified and codified. As a result, members across Canada are free to transfer their memberships easily, and to move and work in other provinces or territories, and to have their RPP (and equivalent) designations respected and celebrated!

MCIP® is a registered trademark of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP). Only individuals who have met all the professional requirements of their Provincial and Territorial Institute and Association (PTIA), and are members in good standing with their PTIA and CIP, are permitted to use MCIP in their professional title.

*A previous version of this article was published in Plan Canada, Winter 2018. Special thanks to Brian Brophey, former Registrar & Director, Member Relations, Ontario Professional Planning Institute, and Charles Lanktree, for their work to develop a national perspective on professional portability.