Professional Reliance Legislation Introduced

Posted on November 1, 2018
On October 22, 2018, the BC Government tabled proposed legislation that will impact how the professions of engineering and geoscience are regulated through the introduction of the Professional Governance Act and Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance. This is in response to recommendations included in the final report of the Professional Reliance Review, released in June 2018 by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

The Professional Governance Act, if approved, will enable government oversight of the five regulators of engineering and geoscience, agrology, applied science technology, applied biology, and forestry, and establish an Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance.

The proposed legislation would provide a framework for consistent governance standards across the five regulators involved in the professional reliance review, including:
  • increasing public representation and instituting a merit‐based nomination process for councils of the five professional regulators;
  • 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.
The legislation would also enable the provision of practice rights for agrologists, biologists, and applied technologists and technicians. While the legislation enables the provisions of these rights, no decision has yet been made on the scope of these rights if they are ultimately granted. Government has indicated that a consultation process on this subject will be launched imminently. Engineers and Geoscientists BC looks forward to learning more about their intent, and working with government and other stakeholders to ensure that we protect and enhance the regulatory framework in BC.

“We support efforts to improve the regulatory framework and are hopeful that the legislation introduced today can achieve that goal,” said Ann English, P.Eng., Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s CEO and Registrar. “Changes to regulatory models are complex and require careful implementation, especially when managing areas of practice overlap. We are committed to working with government to ensure this is accomplished to the benefit of the public we both serve.”

While the introduction of this legislation represents an important milestone in the professional reliance review, there is much more work to follow; making sure that this new office is implemented effectively with appropriate resourcing and governance will be critical.

We are carefully reviewing the proposed legislation to better understand the nature of the changes to be implemented. We will be sharing more detail shortly, once we have completed that review. 

In October 2017, the provincial government initiated a review of the professional reliance model in the natural resource sector. Its goal was to examine the legislation governing qualified professionals, and the role their professional associations play in upholding the public interest. Engineers and Geoscientists BC was one of five regulators subject to the review, along with the professional associations for agrology, applied science technology, applied biology, and professional forestry.

More Information

The BC Government news release is available on the Province’s website: “Qualified professional legislation to restore public trust in natural-resource decision making.” 

The final report of the Professional Reliance Review can be found on the Province’s website. 

Visit our Professional Reliance webpage for more information, updates, and answers to frequently asked questions.

First published on October 22, 2018

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