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 regulation of individual professionals. This initiative is now nearing the end of its second phase.
In the fall of 2015, a task force
was appointed by Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s Council to lead an evaluation of corporate regulation and engineering and geoscience practice by corporate entities. Over the course of 14 months, the evaluation included the review and assessment of corporate practice and regulatory models, and strategic consultation with members and stakeholders.
The Advisory Task Force on Corporate Practice presented its recommendations to Council in May 2017. The task force recommended 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.
Developing the Model
Over the last six months, the task force has conducted a detailed review of stakeholder input from the consultation done in 2016 and 2017. From this, the task force has developed a set of principles to guide the creation of a regulatory model for the oversight of corporate entities. The model should require organizations to
- maintain effective professional practice standards in accordance with the Engineers and Geoscientists Act, Code of Ethics, and professional practice guidelines;
- ensure that all professional engineering and geoscience work is performed under the direction of a professional engineer or geoscientist;
- ensure appropriate use of professional engineers/geoscientists’ seals within the organization;
- provide appropriate professional development opportunities for engineering and geoscience employees;
- comply with anti-corruption measures; and,
- adhere to ethical business practices.
These principles form the basis for a corporate regulatory structure supported by three pillars:
- ethics in business practices;
- quality management (in organizational engineering/geoscience practice); and
- professional competency (continuing professional development).
The task force is currently working to define the types of organizations that would be subject to regulatory coverage. It supports the concept that all organizations practising professional engineering or geoscience should be subject to regulation, but a limited system of exemption may be recommended for cases where regulation would be redundant, such as when another regulatory authority already provides oversight.
The task force is considering a number of key questions as part of its Phase 2 work.
- What types of information and documentation should be provided by regulated organizations during the initial registration process?
- Should an audit process be included in the model to promote compliance and understanding of the regulatory requirements?
- How can the association’s Organizational Quality Management Program best be integrated into a corporate regulation model?
- How could the regulatory program help support ethical business practices in BC (procurement contracts, conflict of interest, etc.)?
- Would a regulated organization be required to meet a minimum standard in order to practise professional engineering or geoscience?
The task force is in the process of drafting its Phase 2 report for Council, and it will be recommending a regulatory model for corporate practice for Council’s consideration in June.
A third phase of the initiative would involve developing a business plan for the implementation of the model. Government would also need to amend the Engineers and Geoscientists Act
in order to permit corporate regulation.
A more detailed article regarding the Phase 2 work of the Advisory Task Force on Corporate Practice will appear in the March/April 2018 issue of Innovation
and will be posted on the Corporate Practice Initiative webpage
once it becomes available.
Comments regarding corporate practice and the work the task force can be emailed to [email protected]