PRESIDENT’S SPECIAL REPORT TO MEMBERS
October 29, 2018
PROFESSIONAL GOVERNANCE ACT
(S.B.C. Bill 49)
On Monday October 22, 2018 the Government of British Columbia introduced the Professional Governance Act (“Act”) as its response to recommendations number 1 & number 2 found in the previously released Professional Reliance Review Final Report (“Report”). BCIA staff and Council can now speak freely respecting this matter as the restrictions of previous, mandatory non-disclosure agreements have been lifted by the introduction of the new legislation.
The Report was authored by Mr. Mark Haddock who was engaged by the Government to study and recommend changes to the professional reliance model. The professional reliance model has been applied by the Government of British Columbia since 2003, and was in need of assessment. The Report contains 121 specific recommendations (plus numerous additional suggestions) and is one of the most extensive reviews of the use, authority and operations of self-regulated professions and their functions within the professional reliance model within Canada.
A major concern of the 5 affected Regulators (Engineers & Geoscientists, Foresters, Applied Technicians, Biologists and Agrologists) and many other stakeholders within British Columbia’s natural resource sector is that the Act does not in any way address the Reports’ recommendations number 3 to number 121. Positive reform of the professional reliance model within the natural resources sector, reform in support of the public interest, can only occur if all of the recommendations are considered and implemented appropriately. That said, there are numerous specific provisions within the Act which could have a positive impact on the practice of agrology within the province.
Perhaps most significant is the granting of “Right to Practice” (more accurately referred to as “practice rights”) to the agrology, biology and applied technician professions within British Columbia. As briefly outlined in previous special reports, practice rights refer to the restriction on the provision of agrologist services to members of BCIA only. Any person presenting themselves as an agrologist within a restricted area of practice, without being a member in good standing of BCIA would be subject to prosecution for unauthorized practice.
This will create a level playing field whereby all persons providing those types of services within the province will be subject to identical educational, professional development, and discipline processes. This will not only ensure consistent professionalism but will also increase the awareness of agrologists as a crucial element in the responsible economic development of the province. Although there is significant work yet to be done we commend the government for establishing the statutory framework necessary to protect the public interest by ensuring that decisions within the natural resource sector are made by accredited, qualified and contemporary professionals.
The granting of practice rights however will require BCIA to more clearly define the areas of practice that will be protected by those rights. Simply stated, BCIA will not be able to enforce practice rights unless our areas of practice are clearly understood and our jurisdiction over those areas is recognized by the government and the other professions engaged in the sector. To that end it is significant that the government confirmed that the concepts of joint jurisdiction over certain areas of practice and the practice of self declaration historically used by BCIA members will be preserved.
All of this means that in the relatively short period of the next 12 months BCIA will need to analyze each of our current areas of practice to ensure clarity. In addition, we will also consult with other professions which currently have joint jurisdiction in certain areas of practice to reach consensus as to each regulators’ responsibility for each specific area. To that end, we will continue discussions with the College of Applied Biologists to determine the process by which practice clarifications can be attained over the next year. By necessity therefore we will have to tap into the experience of our members in each area of practice and we look forward to working with our members over the next year.
To assist BCIA in this work Council has authorized the formation of an ad-hoc Professional Reliance Recommendations Committee (“Committee”). This Committee will be responsible for reviewing the new legislation and directives received from the new office of professional governance to provide recommendations to Council as to how our profession can realistically implement the new professional environment.
The Act is extensive, complex, and at times perhaps convoluted (the complete Act can be found at Bill 49: Professional Governance Act ). It addresses many matters in addition to practice rights including composition of Regulatory Councils, appointment of lay persons, code of ethics and duty to report, regulation of firms, professional development and discipline procedures to name but a few. We are currently preparing a summary of the Act, highlighting areas of support and areas of concern. This summary will be provided to Members, however as there are still ongoing consultations with the government respecting the interpretation and implementation of certain provisions of the Act the summary may be delayed for a short period of time.
We always strive to provide accurate information to our Members and we will keep you fully informed as this project proceeds. The next year will be industrious but as our profession moves forward to its next level of development we welcome the positive opportunities that the Act will provide. Additionally, we welcome the opportunity to observe and potentially participate in considering the other 119 report recommendations, as only their full and appropriate implementation will result in effective and long-term protection of public resources for the people of British Columbia.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact myself, your respective Councillor or the BCIA office.
Oana Enick, P.Ag.