Corporate Practice in BC
In Canada, the practice of engineering and geoscience by companies is regulated in every province except for BC and Quebec. Engineers and Geoscientists BC is taking the proactive step of examining whether practice by corporate entities should be regulated in BC as a means of upholding and protecting the public interest, in addition to its current regulation of individual professionals.
In the fall of 2015, Council established an Advisory Task Force on Corporate Practice to guide the process of evaluation and member and stakeholder consultation. This task force comprises members of Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia, and industry representatives including government, manufacturing, construction, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – BC (ACEC-BC), and others.
Over the course of 14 months, the task force conducted an evaluation that included the review and assessment of regulatory models and engineering and geoscience practice by corporate entities, supported by strategic consultation with members and stakeholders.
In April 2017, the task force delivered its Phase 1 final report to Council, recommending that the association seek the authority to regulate practice by corporate entities, and that the following types of organizations be regulated:
- consulting firms providing professional engineering or geoscience services (including incorporated sole practitioners);
- engineering and geoscience testing and assessment companies;
- private sector organizations that carry out the “practice of professional engineering or geoscience” for internal or external purposes; and
- public sector organizations that carry out the “practice of professional engineering or geoscience” for internal or external purposes.
Council accepted the task force’s recommendations and directed it to proceed with Phase 2 of the initiative, with the objective of recommending a model for corporate regulation.
Phase 2 Recommendations Report
The task force concluded its Phase 2 work in June 2018, which was to develop a regulatory model for the oversight of corporate entities. At Council's June 2018 meeting, the task force presented its Phase 2 final report, outlining a proposed approach for the regulation of corporate practice addressing seven key components: 1) regulatory coverage, 2) regulatory model, 3) documentation, 4) compliance and enforcement, 5) cost-recovery, 6) legislation, and the Organizational Quality Management Program. The proposed model is to be based on three main pillars: ethics, quality management, and professional development, and would include all organizations in the private and public sectors that provide products and/or services in BC requiring the practice of professional engineering and professional geoscience.
Council received the task force's report and directed that it undertake consultation with members to further examine the appropriate level of regulatory oversight for sole practitioners, and that it proceed with the third phase of its work to develop a business plan for a corporate practice program. The task force’s Phase 2 report is available below.
Since its inception in 1920, Engineers and Geoscientists BC has been responsible for maintaining standards of entry and practice for individual professionals. The Engineers and Geoscientists Act contains provisions for the association to issue certificates of authorization—licences issued to allow individuals and businesses to provide professional engineering or geoscience services. However, nothing in the Act prevents companies from operating without such certificates.
BC and Quebec are the only jurisdictions in Canada where engineering and geoscience organizations remain unregulated. Other Canadian jurisdictions regulate organizational practice through certificates of authorization or similar permits to practice. Some jurisdictions regulate all companies that provide engineering and geoscience products and services, whereas others are restricted to certain sectors—for example, consulting.
Early Council discussions about the regulation of corporate practice in BC began with the Closkey Commission, which reviewed the Station Square Mall collapse in Burnaby. Since then, the issue has re-emerged periodically and whenever major incidents involving engineering or geoscience in BC have occurred. The matter is also raised on an ongoing basis by members and organizations that look to Engineers and Geoscientists BC to ensure that practitioners and companies within various sectors meet the same quality assurance standards.
See Consultation Summary Report
The association’s primary mandate of public protection remains central to its consideration of this issue. Also key is ensuring members’ and industry’s perspectives are heard. To date, member and stakeholder consultation has included two stages:
- Stage 1 (June to August 2016) focuses on early input from members and stakeholders to understand the issues and help guide the development and assessment of different regulatory models to explore during the review.
- Stage 2 (September to November 2016) focuses on more detailed input from members and stakeholders on their preferences for non-regulatory and regulatory options for corporate oversight.
Consultations: opportunities were made available to members and stakeholders over a 9 month period. A list of our consultation activities and what we heard through this process is detailed in the Consultation Summary Report.
|The Task Force’s discussion paper explores the issue of corporate practice, and outlines options for the potential regulation of engineering and geoscience organizations in BC as a means to enhance public protection.
|This recorded webinar provides a condensed presentation on the issues surrounding corporate regulation and the potential regulatory options under evaluation, followed by Q&A from participants.
Corporate Practice Webinar Video
|This report summarizes consultation activities and member and stakeholder feedback received over 9 months of consultation on corporate practice.
Consultation Summary Report
|This report provides the task force's formal recommendations to Council based on the first phase of the association's exploration of corporate practice.
Phase 1 Recommendations Report
|This report provides the task force's Phase 2 recommendations to Council.
Phase 2 Recommendations Report
|Questions, comments and requests for information can be directed to [email protected].