In Canada, jurisdictions regulating engineering and geoscience have regulatory oversight over the practice of both individual practitioners as well as companies engaged in this work—with the exception of British Columbia and Quebec. In 2014, APEGBC Council initiated a review of the organizational practice of engineering and geoscience and the concept of corporate regulation. The review was led by an advisory task force of members. At Council’s April 28, 2017, meeting, the task force submitted its recommendations on the matter of corporate regulation.
In this first phase of a potential three-phase of review of corporate practice, the Advisory Task Force on Corporate Practice was asked to guide consultation and consider member and stakeholder feedback in order to advise Council on 1) whether APEGBC should pursue regulatory authority over corporate practice as a means to improve public protection, and 2) which entities, if any, should be subject to APEGBC’s regulatory oversight. The task force’s work was carried over a period of 14 months, and updates and engagement opportunities have been provided throughout.
Over the course of consultation, the task force released a discussion paper for member and stakeholder feedback in order to inform its review process. A summary report of that feedback has been published.
On the basis of consultation and deliberations, the task force reached consensus to support a recommendation that APEGBC pursue regulatory authority over corporate practice. The task force identified three main reasons for this conclusion:
Corporate regulation could
- enhance protection of the public interest and the environment by improving the practice of engineering and geoscience;
- increase government and public confidence in the self-regulatory system administered by APEGBC on behalf of the professions; and
- provide value to organizations and the professionals they employ.
Regarding regulatory coverage, the task force recommended the following types of organizations be included in corporate regulation:
- 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.
The task force recommended that unincorporated sole practitioners not be subject to corporate regulation.
The task force’s report provides its full recommendation, along with its supporting rationale. It also recommends additional review in order to determine whether other types of organizations are already sufficiently covered under other regulatory mechanisms or standards to ensure public interest is protected—including those that design and manufacture custom-design engineered products, structures, software, processes or facilities; those that design, build and manufacture (off-the-shelf) engineered products whose quality and safety are regulated through other existing standards and requirements, and; those carrying out research and development. The task force also recommends further review related to federal government agencies operating in BC. The full recommendations report is available at apeg.bc.ca/corporatepractice.
Council received the task force report and voiced broad support for its recommendations. At its April 28 meeting, Council approved the motions:
- that APEGBC seek regulatory authority over corporate practice;
- that a corporate regulatory model be developed which demonstrates positive impacts to protect the public interest and the environment, and provides benefit to the regulated organizations and professionals they employ; and
- that the corporate regulatory model be scaled according to the size and nature of the organization and be administratively efficient.
Council directed that staff work with the advisory task force to review the task force terms of reference as the first step in proceeding with the review’s second phase, which would include recommending a regulatory model for corporate oversight.
Council expressed support for a deeper exploration of regulatory coverage for corporate practice as identified by the task force, which would include more detailed review of organization types proposed for regulatory oversight and those requiring further investigation. This review would precede the task force recommendation of a regulatory model for corporate practice. Pending Council approval, a third phase would involve developing a plan for implementation. An amendment to the Engineers and Geoscientists Act by government would also be needed to enable corporate regulation.
For more information on this three-stage review of potential regulation of engineering and geoscience firms in BC, visit apeg.bc.ca/corporatepractice.