Newfoundland and Labrador gets its own HR association

HR professionals no longer dependent on other provinces to pursue CHRP

Canada’s youngest province is now home to the country’s newest HR association.

The Association of Human Resources Professionals of Newfoundland and Labrador (HRPNL) was formed in February and officially welcomed into the Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) fold in May.

“We were looking for some way to advocate for and promote growth and development of the HR professional in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Joe Bouzanne, president of the new association, and an HR instructor at the Grand Falls-Windsor campus of the College of the North Atlantic.

The process began almost two years ago when a group of about 15 or 20 people started talking about creating a new association, he said. The group considered becoming a chapter of another association, in the same way Prince Edward Island professionals run a chapter of the Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia (HRANS).

“We felt we wanted to go our own way,” he said. As a chapter of HRANS, dues would have been going into Nova Scotia but there would have been fewer administration costs. “That was great, but we felt we didn’t want to go that route,” he said. “We felt that we wanted to be our person, our own entity. We wanted to make the decisions for this province.”

Being independent gives the province its own voice at the CCHRA table, he said. Making it easier for Newfoundland HR professionals to obtain the Certified Human Resources Professional designation (CHRP) was one of the most important motivations, said Bouzanne.

The executive is also exploring new partnerships with post-secondary institutions to offer a new certificate program in human resources management, he said. Some people have been in the profession for up to 20 years but don’t have an academic credential. “We want to partner to allow members to take eight to 10 courses all in HR, so they receive a certificate in HR.”

The association was officially inaugurated in February and now has 46 members. Most of those are in the St. John’s area, but the association is looking at setting up four chapters around the province, with the hopes of getting at least 100 members in the next two years. A website is also in development to keep members up to date and provide more professional development opportunities.

Membership dues have been set at $100 per year per member. CHRP holders will pay $125 per year because of the additional administration costs like those associated with recertification for the CHRP.

Sheldon Winsor, director of human resources with the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union, was one of the HR professionals involved in early discussions about an association.

The International Personnel Management Association is very active in St. John’s and does good work, but it has more of a public-sector focus, which some private-sector members felt isn’t always relevant for the work they do, he said.

More importantly, a growing number of people are interested in obtaining the CHRP, he said. Winsor himself joined HRANS for that purpose.

“I had always been interested in the CHRP but there was no way here on the island to get it,” he said. “This puts us on a level playing field with all of other professionals across the country.”

Elizabeth Whitten is an HR manager with Fortis Properties in St. John’s. She’s one of the association’s founding directors, with oversight of the certification process in the province.

She too says the CHRP was the most important impetus for starting the association.

“A number of people spoke to me about the CHRP and knew they couldn’t do that unless they were a member of CCHRA,” she said.

Whitten also joined HRANS because she wanted to get her CHRP. In May she wrote the CHRP knowledge exam by herself in St. John’s. Just one other Newfoundlander wrote the exam in Corner Brook.

With the association both making it easier for CHRP candidates to meet the necessary requirements while also promoting the designation across the province, that should change, she said. “I think we will start to see significantly higher numbers (of CHRPs) coming out of Newfoundland with this association in place.”

Professional development opportunities should also improve considerably now that the association is on its feet, she said. Already the association has hosted a number of seminars and lunch-and-learns. The president of Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council gave a talk about implications of recent legislative and labour relations changes in the province. And someone from a local public relations firm who had conducted labour market research spoke about what the Newfoundland workforce will look like in 2010.

Latest stories