Professional Governance Act

In November 2018, the BC Government passed the Professional Governance Act, which will consolidate government oversight of the five professional regulators for engineering and geoscience, forestry, agrology, applied biology, and applied science technology under a new Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance.

The new legislation is a result of government’s professional reliance review, which examined the current legislation governing qualified professionals in the natural resource sector, and the role their professional associations play in upholding the public interest.

The legislation will set consistent governance standards across the professions it governs, and will come into force over the next few years as regulations are developed to support its implementation. As each regulation is developed and details are determined, it is expected to involve its own consultation process, which Engineers and Geoscientists BC expects to be actively involved in.

It is expected to take the next three to five years for the Professional Governance Act to be fully implemented.

Once it is fully in place, the new Act will replace the Engineers and Geoscientists Act, the current legislation governing the practice of engineering and geoscience in BC.

current status

December 4, 2018

The Professional Governance Act was brought into law by the BC Legislative Assembly on November 27, 2018. Regulations will now begin to be developed to support its implementation.

Regulations are currently being developed on the following three areas:

  1. Regulation of firms: what is required to support professions governed under the Act to regulate firms? What general and profession-specific considerations should this framework take into account?
  2. Competency declarations and conflict of interest declarations: When and how should declarations be required and what should be considered to ensure this process is efficient and effective?
  3. Practice rights of professions: What is required to support professions governed under the Act to operate with both ‘reserved titles’ and ‘reserved practices’? What considerations should guide the process of defining reserved practices for the professions?

Government has released an intentions paper on these three topics and is inviting comments until January 31, 2019.

Engineers and Geoscientists BC will be responding and will be involved in direct consultation with government in order to ensure, to the best of our ability, that these changes to the regulatory model are carefully considered and effectively implemented.

Members are also welcome to submit their own views directly to government. To help keep the association informed, members providing submissions to government are welcome to forward a copy of that feedback to [email protected].

View the Intentions Paper and Comment Form

Background

What's in the Legislation?

The Professional Governance Act provides a framework, to be administered by a new Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance, for consistent governance standards across the five regulators for engineering and geoscience, forestry, agrology, applied biology, and applied science technology.

These standards include:

  • increasing public representation and instituting a merit‐based nomination process for council;
  • setting common ethical principles;
  • requiring competency and conflict of interest declarations from qualified professionals;
  • strengthening professionals’ duty to report unethical conduct of other professionals;
  • providing whistle blower protections to those who report; and
  • enabling professional regulators to regulate firms.

These changes, many of which are consistent with the regulation of engineering and geoscience professions in other jurisdictions across Canada, would be introduced over time in order to modernize the regulatory standards in BC.

And, while there are a number of unanswered questions about the implementation of the legislation, the framework introduced is considerably better than the one originally proposed by government in June, reflecting some key recommendations made by Engineers and Geoscientists BC during consultations.

While we appreciate these concessions, and see benefits in proper resourcing of government oversight and the addition of new regulatory tools to protect the public interest, it is too early to determine the efficacy of this new legislation.

The Office will have broad and sweeping powers and a number of the changes to regulatory oversight are significant. The key to successfully improving the framework and protecting the public interest will be careful, well considered implementation of the office and these changes. We are calling on government to be cautious and to work with the impacted regulators to ensure that the risks associated with sweeping change are identified and mitigated.

When Will This Take Effect?

The Professional Governance Act was was brought into law by the BC Legislative Assembly on November 27, 2018. Regulations will now begin to be developed to support its implementation.

We have been advised that this would be a long-term process, with regulations on various provisions of the Act coming into force as they are developed. Each regulation, as it is developed and details are determined, is expected to involve its own consultation process, which Engineers and Geoscientists BC expects to be actively involved in. It is expected to take the next three to five years for the Act to be fully implemented.

What Action is Engineers and Geoscientists BC Taking?

Since the release of the Professional Reliance Review Recommendation Report, we have been engaging with government and other stakeholders to articulate our concerns that any changes to regulatory oversight should enhance, rather than weaken protection of the public interest.

To date, the association has devoted significant effort and resources to working with government to ensure that these changes benefit the overall public good and support key regulatory priorities identified by Engineers and Geoscientists BC to that end.

Those efforts have resulted in some changes by government, which we feel will avoid a number of risks and unintended consequences. As regulations are developed, we will continue to work with government to the best of our ability to ensure changes to the regulatory model are carefully considered and effectively implemented.

Where can I find more information?

The full text of the legislation is available on the BC government's website. Additional background on the Professional Reliance Review and Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s engagement with government on this issue is also available on our website.

frequently asked questions

Do you have questions about the new legislation, and what it could mean for you? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to common questions about this issue.

Questions about the Professional Governance Act and the Professional Reliance Review can also be addressed to [email protected].