In November 2019, the Steering Committee on Modernization of Health Professional Regulation – a cross-party government committee – published a report titled “Modernizing the provincial health profession regulatory framework: A paper for consultation”.
This consultation paper was developed in response to the inquiry into the College of Dental Surgeons undertaken by Harry Cayton, which began in May 2018. The review of the Health Professions Act, the legislation that creates the regulatory framework for the health professions in British Columbia, was also part of the inquiry, which he reported was “no longer adequate for modern regulation.”
After thorough review of Mr. Cayton’s findings, and public and stakeholder consultation, five “modernization proposals” for the regulation of health professions in B.C. were recommended by the Steering Committee. The objectives of the recommendations are to ensure public interest and patient safety are ahead of professional interest, and aim to increase transparency and efficiency. A summary of the recommendations is below – please refer to the consultation paper for additional details:
- Improved governance
- Changes to board composition and formation process, including eliminating elected board members, having an equal number of registrants and public members, and reducing board size (8-12 individuals).
- Improved efficiency and effectiveness through a reduction in the number of regulatory colleges
- There are currently 20 regulatory colleges (under the Health Professions Act). It is being recommended that this be reduced to five. This would include merging smaller regulatory colleges into larger, more efficient colleges.
- Strengthening the oversight of regulatory colleges
- A new, independent body is being proposed to oversee the health regulatory colleges. The proposed oversight body would have a range of functions, including routine audits, overseeing the board member appointment process, the development of model bylaws, and review of certain college decisions. This body would be similar to the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance, which was introduced through the Professional Governance Act.
- Complaints and Adjudication
- Simplify the complaints and discipline process to provide a clearer focus on patient safety, public protection and strengthening public trust in regulation.
- The introduction of a new adjudication body, comprised of qualified panel members, and separate from the regulatory colleges would further separate the investigation of complaints from the disciplinary decision-making stage.
- A consistent approach would apply across all health regulators.
- To increase transparency, all agreements between registrants and regulatory colleges would be public. In addition, regulatory colleges would be allowed to provide limited public comment if complaints became known to the public (e.g. through the media).
- Information sharing to improve patient safety and public trust
- Effective communication between health colleges be established, particularly with matters of multi-professional complaints. Current legislative barriers impede the sharing of information, which is a necessity in matters of patient safety and public safety.
The Steering Committee is now seeking feedback to finalize the recommendations for modernization of health profession regulation. The online survey is open until January 10, 2020.
With the passing of the Professional Governance Act, the inquiry into the College of Dental Surgeons and review of the Health Professions Act, the creation of the Steering Committee and subsequent recommendations published in the consultation paper, it is clear there is a renewed interest and focus by the provincial government on professional regulation, particularly in ensuring that the public interest is at the forefront of all regulators’ governance and operations. This has resulted in major changes for regulatory bodies across the province.
The Architects Act was last substantially updated in the 1950s, and does not account for modern governance principles. The AIBC will continue to engage the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to work towards modernization of the Architects Act. In the meantime, the Institute still has the responsibility to ensure key regulatory documents, such as Bylaws, Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, and Bulletins, meet current societal and governmental expectations and standards.
The AIBC will closely monitor the progress of the proposed reforms to the regulation of the health professions, including the result of the public feedback consultation and finalized recommendations put forth by the Steering Committee.
- Read “Modernizing the provincial health profession regulatory framework: A paper for consultation” (November 2019)
- Read “An Inquiry into the performance of the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia and the Health Professions Act” (December 2018)
- Learn more about the Professional Reliance Review and read the Professional Governance Act (2018)