Life Membership, Non-Practising, and Honorary Membership Bylaws
For many years, Engineers and Geoscientists BC has awarded life memberships under the association’s Bylaw 10 (c.1). The bylaw entitles members to apply for life membership if they are 70 years of age, have been practising for 35 years or more, and have been a member in good standing for 20 years or more.
In February 2017, the association was the subject of a legal challenge that this bylaw is discriminatory based on age, due to the age requirement (70 years) in order to qualify. The requirement for 35 years of membership may also constitute indirect age discrimination. Under the BC Human Rights Code, membership associations such as Engineers and Geoscientists BC are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of age.
Council decided to cease exercising its discretion to offer Life Membership effective June 16, 2017. Council also directed a review of the bylaw that governs this process, as well as bylaws that govern related areas, such as honorary membership and the use of the Non-Practising title.
Frequently Asked Questions
Council is proposing amendments to four bylaws that govern Life Membership, honorary membership, and the use of the Non-Practising title. The changes aim to:
- provide more accurate information to the public;
- provide members with flexibility to manage their license during career transitions;
- modernize the governance structure of the professions;
- enhance the way we deliver on our regulatory responsibilities by clarifying the professional obligations of those without practice rights.
Council used several “solutions principles” to define their approach to developing and considering amendments to these bylaws: the duty to protect the public interest; compliance with the Engineers and Geoscientists Act, bylaws, and other legislation; fiscal responsibility; inclusivity, consistency, and fairness of application; and consideration of feedback from stakeholder consultation.
Council is proposing amendments to:
1. Bylaw 10 (c): Non-practising Member
These amendments will better meet public expectations by clearly indicating if a member does not have practice rights, and clarify the professional obligations of non-practising members.
2. Bylaw 10 (c.1): Life Membership or Licensure
These amendments will remove language that contravenes the BC Human Rights Code, clearly indicate if a member does not have practice rights, and clarify the professional obligations of non-practising and retired members.
3. Bylaw 10 (c.2): Honorary Life Membership or Licensure and Bylaw 10 (d): Honorary Membership
These amendments will repeal Bylaws 10 (c.2) and 10 (d), introduce revocation of Honorary Membership by Council where warranted, and add vesting (grandfathering) for members who currently hold this status.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s bylaws guide the association and its members in performing their duties. From time to time, bylaws are amended or introduced to enact policy or procedure enhancements, and to enable the association to perform its regulatory duties more effectively.
Once Council proposes a bylaw for amendment, the process of member and stakeholder consultation begins, and is guided by Council’s Policy on Bylaw Consultation. Council reviews the feedback collected (sometimes making additional changes based on this feedback) and confirms a final version of the bylaw for member ratification. All association bylaws require at least 2/3 (66.67%) support by voting members in order to pass.
If bylaw amendments are ratified by members, the bylaw requires the approval of government prior to becoming law. The Minister of Advanced Education, who is the Minister responsible for the Engineers and Geoscientists Act, has the ability to disallow bylaws if they are not in the public interest.
Council approved a consultation plan for these bylaws in September 2017, in alignment with its Consultation Policy, which outlines the process for member and stakeholder engagement on proposed bylaw changes. Consultation ran from December 2017 to March 2018, and sought feedback from members, including key membership groups impacted by these amendments, and member committees.
Engagement included focus groups with members who would have previously qualified for life membership, a webcast on the changes, a member survey, discussion with the Standing Awards Committee, and phone and email feedback.
The bylaw amendments will be presented to members for ratification in the fall, in conjunction with the Council election. Amendments to Engineers and Geoscientists BC's bylaws require at least two-thirds (66.67%) support by voting members in order to pass.