On October 22, the Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, introduced Bill 49–2018: the Professional Governance Act (PGA) for first reading. The PGA is new legislation that would change the way certain professions are regulated. On introduction, Minister Heyman stated “This legislation is about making sure we live up to our responsibilities to British Columbians in protecting our natural heritage for our kids and grandkids…”
Upon preliminary analysis a number of elements in the bill consistently align with modern day regulatory best practices. However, other areas are difficult to assess without additional information.
The draft legislation, which could become law as early as next month, comes on the heels of the Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance in Natural Resource Decision-Making which was released earlier this summer. The Professional Reliance Review examined the professional governance framework of five regulators: Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC (Applied Science Technologists and Technicians Act), Association of BC Forest Professionals (Foresters Act), BC Institute of Agrologists (Agrologists Act), College of Applied Biology (College of Applied Biology Act), and Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (Engineers and Geoscientists Act).
Based on the Report’s two main recommendations, the draft legislation would establish an Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance under the Attorney General’s office, and codify key elements of professional governance. The PGA uses the structure of an existing model, the Health Professions Act, which is “umbrella” legislation applicable to more than 20 health professions in BC and supported by supplementary Regulations prescribing industry-specific elements such as titles and scopes of practice.
The impact of this legislation outside the scope of the five natural resource regulators has yet to be seen. The AIBC is currently reviewing the bill in detail and monitoring the situation closely.