Shortly after the First World War, it became apparent to a group of scientists working in Canadian agriculture that it was essential to have an organization that could bring all agricultural scientists together to discuss common problems, consider new findings and developments, and generally incorporate the work of the various branches of science.
A group of five individuals was appointed to seek a solution, the result being the Canadian Society of Technical Agriculturalists (CSTA). The first convention was held in 1920, and Dr. L.S. Klinck, of the University of British Columbia, was elected president. In 1945, the CSTA's name was changed to the Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC).
The British North America Act gave full power of formation, recognition and control of all professional groups to provincial legislatures. Therefore AIC could not gain legal professional status for its members on a country-wide basis, and each province was required to form its own body for this purpose. In April 1947, the BC Legislature passed the Agrologists Act, creating the British Columbia Institute of Agrologists (BCIA). The Institute’s bylaws went into effect on June 1st of that year. As it is today, the role of the Institute was to protect the public interest by governing the professional conduct of its members. Agrology in the 1947 Act was very narrowly defined, applying almost exclusively to those working in the agri-food industry. In 2003, a new Agrologists Act was introduced that broadened the focus to include the environment and natural resources. The new Act was part of a government policy to place greater reliance on the professions for regulating professional behaviour and the setting and maintenance of professional standards.
On February 5, 2021, the Agrologists Act was repealed and the Professional Governance Act (PGA) was enacted.
The PGA provides a framework for self-regulating professions that incorporates the best practices of professional governance. The PGA governs the five professional regulators, which are comprised of agrologists, applied biologists, applied science technologists and technicians, engineers and geoscientists, and forest professionals. Professional regulators governed by the PGA can alternately be referred to as ‘regulatory bodies’.
The PGA also strengthened government oversight by establishing an Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG) under the Ministry of the Attorney General. The OSPG is responsible for administering the PGA, and ensuring that best practices for professional governance are implemented. The establishment of the OSPG simplifies and standardizes how professions are governed by the PGA.
Currently, BCIA continues to work with the provincial government through the OSPG regarding Reserved Practice (practice rights) for agrology professionals.