The introduction of the Professional Governance Act (PGA) in February 2021 was a significant change for Engineers and Geoscientists BC and its registrants. In addition to a new regulatory framework and oversight body (the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance), the PGA also introduced a restriction on certain advocacy activities for the regulators under its authority.
The intent of these restrictions is to ensure that regulatory bodies focus on activities that support their regulatory mandate, and avoid activities focused on the interests of registrants, as stated in Section 22(3) of the PGA: “A regulatory body may only act in an advocacy role in accordance with this Act and in accordance with rules, conditions or limits prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (Cabinet).”
In line with this direction, the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance provided a framework to guide regulatory bodies in evaluating their programs and activities. The framework also provided for certain exceptions by acknowledging that some activities support organizational sustainability—such as those that provide net revenue or support activities that encourage volunteerism.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC Council and staff undertook a detailed and strategic review of more than 20 programs and activities against this framework; we also considered a registrant motion that had come forward at the 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) proposing that Council consider establishing a separate advocacy body.
Program Updates and Changes
The review determined that Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s core operations and most other programs can continue, while some require modest changes to come into compliance with the PGA.
Three programs were identified to be outside of our mandate under the PGA. Two online directories that allowed registrants to advertise their services or availability for employment have been closed, and the Benevolent Fund Society, which provided financial grants to registrants in need, will be dissolved.
The Benevolent Fund Society has been an important program at Engineers and Geoscientists BC over the past several decades, helping many registrants facing hardships to overcome short-term cash flow difficulties. While several options were considered, including establishing a new and fully independent charitable entity, the Society’s Directors determined it would not be feasible to operate independently from Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
The Society has ceased accepting donations as of October 3, 2021, and will cease the disbursement of grants effective April 1, 2022.
Motion to Establish a Separate Advocacy Body
With the review of non-regulatory programs completed, Council considered the question of establishing a separate advocacy body. Council considered the need to maintain its organizational capacity during this period of significant transition to new legislation, the need to maintain our strong culture of volunteerism, and the significant challenges of planning for an organizational restructure that may tax the organization beyond its capacity.
With these considerations in mind, and given the relatively small impact to the programs currently in place, Council determined that further considering and potentially establishing a separate advocacy body at this time was not in the organization’s interests.
Council directed that staff report back to Council (no earlier than fall 2022) with an assessment of whether the question of a separate advocacy body should be revisited.
A detailed report outlining the review of advocacy programs at Engineers and Geoscientists BC, and the 2019 AGM motion, is now available. A summary of the advocacy review and associated changes will also be presented at the virtual 2021 AGM on October 30. Registration for the AGM is open until October 25, 2021 at 5:00 PM.
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