The planning profession is changing
Why is the Planning for the Future project important for the planning profession?
The recognition of planning as a profession by the public and by decision makers means that planners must uphold the highest standards and that those who carry a professional designation have a clearly specified set of skills, knowledge, and experience based on national standards. This is a move in the direction of self-regulation of the planning profession, so that it gains similar status as law, architecture, or engineering.
National standards will also allow planners to work in all provinces and to represent Canadian planning values abroad.
How will Planning for the Future affect me as a full member (RPP and MCIP)?
The initiative affects mainly students and those who apply for membership in or after 2011, since it is focused largely on planning education and the membership process. Full members should note, however:
- A national Code of Ethics will replace the existing Code of Practice.
- The membership process will now include a mentorship component, in addition to sponsorship by RPPs of new members. Mentors will have greater involvement in helping candidates for membership through the process.
- The requirements for Continuous Professional Learning will change.
Will I be required to serve as a mentor?
No, this role is completely voluntary for members. However, members will be encouraged to volunteer and provide guidance to new Candidates for at least one year. Service as a mentor will be eligible towards requirements for Continuous Professional Learning.
What is the role of a mentor?
Mentors meet regularly with Candidate members to discuss professional matters, such as the scope of planning practice, ethical standards, and professional accountability. Mentorship lasts for a minimum of a year, and may last longer. When the formal mentorship period ends, the mentor will complete an evaluation form with a record of the meetings held and an assessment of the Candidate's readiness to write the professional examination.
What are the new Continuous Professional Learning (CPL) requirements?
Formally regulated CPL is one of the Planning for the Future national proposals, but it will be implemented on a province-by-province basis.
How and why is the designation "Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners" changing?
The intent is to establish that the FCIP designation (and its French equivalent) is a special honour, rather than a membership class, so that regular MCIPs are not seen as a lower class of planner. Fellows will continue to be Members of the Institute with the MCIP designation and, in addition have the honourific designation.
What is the purpose of the voting process to be held by CIP?
To accommodate changes arising from the PFF project, CIP's by-laws will require amendments. For example, provisional members would be changed to candidate members; the FCIP membership class would be changed from a corporate class to an honourific designation; wording references re: the Code of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct would change; references to the Log Book would be changed to Record of Practical Work Experience; and the Membership Committee will now be called the National Membership Standards Committee.
It should be noted that other PFF initiatives will be dealt with as policy issues by CIP's governing Council. For example, the Code of Ethics is adopted by the Council as are criteria from the Membership Committee. The decision to enter into a shared services agreement with Affiliates to establish the Professional Standards is also a Council decision. For information purposes, the Ethics and Membership Criteria are attached to the by-laws but are not amended through by-law changes or subject to a vote of the members.
Affiliates will also need to amend their by-laws and in some cases may require votes on approval of requirements for Continuous Professional Learning. Affiliates will also make policy decisions regarding criteria and ethics including endorsement of the Accreditation Policy to be administered by the Professional Standards Board.
Will membership fees increase as a result of PFF?
The project has been conducted to date with existing funding from CIP and Affiliates. There will be some changes to costs to enhance quality and service. There will also be savings through productivity, making resources available to pursue other important initiatives for the profession.
Many members are concerned this initiative means higher fees for existing members. This is not the case. The new certification process is based on a "user pay", so costs are borne by those who use the services. In addition, CIP and its Affiliates are mindful that the process must be affordable for applicants.
What are the implications of a "No" vote on PFF?
There is a danger to the profession if the membership does not vote in support of the changes arising from the PFF initiative and the new professional standards are not implemented. The profession is at a crossroads. Either planners stake their claim as planning professionals or they risk being subsumed by other like-minded professions who will claim planning as being part of their professional domain.
Does a "yes" vote lock in the new standards indefinitely?
The way the new system is proposed, at least every five years (more often, if circumstances warrant) the National Membership Standards Committee will be reviewing and revising the standards as planning and professional practice change with an evolving world. There will therefore be opportunities to change and improve the standards as needed in future.
How will the changes affect me as a student member?
The changes are intended to ensure that your planning education meets national standards, to enable you to work anywhere in Canada. They will also create a uniform membership process for planners across the country – a process that is intended to offer you even more learning opportunities than the process currently in place.
How will planning education change as a result of PFF?
The purpose of PFF in planning education is to ensure greater consistency among planning programs, to support the goal of making planning degrees and planning credentials more portable among Canadian provinces and territories. This is the first time that Canada will have an agreed-upon set of Competency Standards that will be reflected in planning curricula. An accreditation program will be utilized to promote the competency standards and quality education for future planners.
The table below indicates the differences in planning education between what is currently in place, and what is proposed.
When will the changes to planning education take effect?
Members will vote on the by-laws in the next six to eight months. With a favourable vote, it will take some time to revise and update planning curricula, and the changes will be introduced gradually over the coming years.
How will the new membership process work?
If you are currently pursuing a planning degree at a recognized school in Canada, you will apply to the Professional Standards Board for Candidate status after you graduate. Once you receive that status, you will need to complete four steps to Full membership (note that some of these steps run concurrently): (1) Meet a one-year mentorship requirement; (2) Meet a professional planning experience requirement for a minimum number of years and have a sponsor verify the experience; (3) Satisfactorily complete a course on ethics and professionalism; (4) Pass a written professional examination.
When will the changes to the membership process take effect?
Implementation will start in 2011. If you are just beginning your studies in planning in September 2010, the changes in the membership process will be in place by the time you graduate.
Will the membership process be more expensive as a result of the changes?
The processing fees you pay to enter and complete the membership process will be restructured, but they will not necessarily be higher. You will pay fees to the Professional Standards Board for each element of the membership process: your application to be a candidate for membership, the Professionalism and Ethics Course, and the Professional Examination.
Provisional Members' Questions
I recently became a Provisional Member. Do the new requirements apply to me?
You may finish the membership process under the same assumptions that were in place when you started. The only situation in which this would not be the case is one in which there is some delay in your meeting the membership requirements, and you have not completed the process within a set period, such as four years. This period will be determined once the timing of PFF is established. However, even in this case you would not lose your status as a Candidate member.
Will I have to pay fees under the new structure instead of the current fees?
Once the new system is in place, applicants who apply for Candidate Status to the Professional Standards Board will have to pay fees for courses and exams to the Professional Standards Board. These fees will be established on a cost-recovery basis.
When is the ethics course likely to be introduced?
The intent is to have the ethics and professionalism course ready for implementation during the first year of start-up of the Professional Standards Board.
How long will the option of an oral examination be available?
The oral examination option will be available until the written version of the examination is ready. Candidate members who start the new membership process are required to take the written exam and an alternate examination format will be provided for people with disabilities.
Why is the oral examination being phased out?
Upholding standards means ensuring both consistency and transparency in the membership process. Oral examinations are very difficult to monitor for consistency and transparency. However, many members value the personal interaction that takes place during the oral examination; this element will be replaced by mentorship as the Candidate prepares for the written examination.
When is the mentorship component likely to be phased in?
The mentorship program will be up and running when the Professional Standards Board is launched. All Candidate members who enter via the new membership process will use the mentor system. Those who are in the old system will be encouraged to participate in the mentorship program, as it offers so many advantages in successfully becoming a Full member.
Questions from prospective members without a Canadian planning degree
I do not have a planning degree, but I am working as a planner in Canada. Can I apply for membership?
If you have five years of planning experience in Canada, you can submit an application to the new Professional Standards Board, accompanied by a portfolio of your work that will be evaluated according to a process called Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). There will also be a self-assessment questionnaire about your education and experience. The Board will review these documents and recommend any additional education or experience that you will need.
Once you are accepted as a Candidate, you will follow the process of membership: (1) Meet a mentorship requirement; (2) Log relevant professional planning experience under the guidance of a sponsor for a minimum period of time as specified by the Professional Standards Board; (3) satisfactorily complete a course on ethics and professionalism; (4) Pass a written professional examination.
I am a member of a planning association outside Canada that has a reciprocity agreement with the CIP. How do I apply for membership in CIP?
Once you have completed a year of planning work in Canada, you can apply to the Professional Standards Board to become a CIP member. You will need to pass the written examination before being accepted as a Full member. You have the option of taking the ethics course first, to help you prepare for the examination.