Professional Reliance Review

The Professional Reliance Review was initiated by government in October 2017 with the goal of examining the current legislation governing qualified professionals in the natural resource sector, and the role their professional associations play in upholding the public interest. Engineers and Geoscientists BC was one of the five professional regulators named in the review’s Terms of Reference, along with the regulators of agrology, applied science technology, applied biology, and professional forestry.

The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change released its final report on the review of professional reliance in the natural resource sector on June 28, 2018. The report recommendations included some significant changes for the governance of regulators like Engineers and Geoscientists BC.

In October, government introduced the Professional Governance Act The legislation was passed on November 27, and will bring government oversight of all five regulators under a new Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance and set consistent governance standards across the professions.

More information on the Professional Governance Act

background

The Professional Reliance Review was a key priority for government; it was included in the NDP’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Green Caucus, as well as in the mandate letter for Hon. George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. 

The review included:

  • An audit of each of the five regulators subject to the review was conducted to assess their enabling legislation and performance. Engineers and Geoscientists BC provided a significant amount of information on how we ensure engineering and geoscience is conducted safely and to high standards. We also made suggestions for improvements to the professional reliance model.
  • Public consultation. More than 4,600 submissions were received, and of these, 1,800 were from professionals.
  • Meetings and engagement sessions with government throughout the summer, including nine full-day consultation sessions with government officials, and many other meetings with other affected regulators and key stakeholders. In these meetings, Engineers and Geoscientists BC focused on ensuring the legacy of effective self-regulation wouldn’t be undermined as a result of this process. 
The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change's final report on the review of professional reliance in the natural resource sector was released on June 28, 2018, and contained 121 recommendations in total, several of which would significantly impact the governance of regulators like Engineers and Geoscientists BC.

While there were positive elements within the report, Engineers and Geoscientists BC expressed concern about the proposed model’s overall effectiveness, and its applicability to the professions of engineering and geoscience.
 

Key Concerns

Our key concerns were:

  • The review, and the resulting report, focused on the natural resource sector. The reforms proposed would apply to all engineers and geoscientists in BC, regardless of their area of practice; however, just 20% of our members work in the natural resource sector.
  • A new oversight office was proposed to oversee the five associations subject to the review, including Engineers and Geoscientists BC, and administer their legislation. The office’s mandate, governance structure, and funding model were not defined, and could represent a duplication of certain existing government oversight functions.
  • The report proposed replacing Council elections with appointments, something that would fundamentally compromise the principle of self-governance.
  • The report also suggested eliminating functions that support the sustainability of the professions of engineering and geoscience such as career and student outreach, awards and recognition and initiatives to promote diversity within the professions.

Proposed Solutions

Council felt strongly that the legacy of effective self-regulation should be protected, and worked diligently throughout the course of the review and following the report’s release to advance recommendations to address these key concerns, which they felt posed the greatest risk.
 
To limit the potential for political interference in the professions, and to address our concern that the office’s sole focus on natural resources did not reflect the diversity of engineering and geoscience practice, Engineers and Geoscientists BC argued forcefully that that new office should not report to Cabinet, and that its mandate be focused on governance, and not interfere with the day to day operations of regulators or professionals.

In addition, Engineers and Geoscientists BC recommended strongly that an advisory committee be established to guide the actions of the office and oversee key implementation activities. This committee should be made up of representatives of affected ministries as well as the five professional regulators. This committee was included in the legislation and government has committed to including the regulators in its membership.

Finally, the Professional Reliance Report, and government’s initial direction, suggested that elections would be eliminated as the method to select Council members, as would the ability to support advocacy initiatives that promote and sustain the professions. As a result of strong push-back by Engineers and Geoscientists BC, government changed direction and agreed to maintain both of these elements which we feel are important tenets of professional self-regulation.
 

Government action on the REcommendations

As the first step in implementing recommendations from the Professional Reliance Review, government tabled the Professional Governance Act on October 22, 2018, which addresses two of the report’s 121 recommendations. These two recommendations are specific to governance and oversight of professional regulators. This legislation was passed on November 27, 2019, and will eventually replace the current Engineers and Geoscientists Act.

The remaining 119 recommendations addressing provincial resourcing and specific statutes—and more likely to have a more direct impact on individual practitioners—will be dealt with separately.

More information on the Professional Governance Act

Questions

To learn more about the professional reliance review, or the Professsional Governance Act, please contact [email protected] or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.