July 24 Update: Since the publishing of this President’s Message, the PGA webpage has gone live. The piece has been updated to include links.
I hope you and yours have been staying well.
The purpose of this message is to inform you about a letter from the Government of British Columbia, dated July 14, 2020, regarding the AIBC and the Professional Governance Act (PGA). Specifically, the letter announces that the government will be moving the AIBC from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to the Ministry of the Attorney General, with an eventual transition from the Architects Act to the Professional Governance Act.
I encourage you to read the letter from the government, which can be viewed here.
Firstly, I would like to assure all registrants that this transition does not change the AIBC’s core function, mandate, or operations – the AIBC will continue to exist, and will continue to regulate the profession of architecture in British Columbia in the interest of the public.
This news will generate many questions, from what this change means for the profession, to potential impacts on practice, and implications for the Institute’s governance. Currently, there is limited information and detail available about the transition, other than what is outlined in the letter. AIBC Council has reviewed and discussed the letter, and given its significance, wanted to share the news with all registrants promptly. For the time being we ask all questions be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. This will allow the AIBC to compile and categorize questions, as well as gain a better understanding of registrants’ comments and concerns. What we do know is that the current Architects Act is woefully outdated, and the government has worked on amendments or replacing that Act for many years. It appears the time has come for the architectural profession to receive modern self-regulating legislation. As of today, the PGA is the newest professional regulation legislation in British Columbia.
A dedicated PGA webpage has been published on aibc.ca, which contains information about the transition, including an overview, Frequently Asked Questions, and a status update/next steps section. The webpage will be updated on a regular basis to keep registrants informed as we progress through the transition. Registrants may also be interested in visiting the website of the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG), which outlines key components of the Office, including the Professional Governance Act and role of the Superintendent, as well as an OSPG Questions and Answers section.
In terms of timing, this transition will not be a sudden upheaval. It is expected to take several years for all AIBC regulations and documents (such as Bylaws, Council Rules, Bulletins, and so forth) to be updated and aligned with the new legislation. As a first step, and as indicated in the letter, it appears the AIBC will be moving ministries in fall 2020. We have at least a year to prepare for the transition to the PGA, meaning there will be no changes implemented to regulatory documents or for architectural practice until the end of 2021, or early 2022. We have very high expectations of the Attorney General and the OSPG as partners in professional regulation, and expect this to be a smooth and orderly transition. We believe that the new Ministry and the specialized office will allow the AIBC and the profession to be more nimble in responding to regulatory challenges and in getting attention at the provincial government level.
It is important to observe that over the past several years, there has been an increased focus on regulated professions – not only in British Columbia, but across the country and across disciplines. In 2019, we witnessed sweeping changes throughout the regulatory landscape in the province with several reviews, audits, reports, and new legislation, which I discussed in my July 2019 President’s Message. The PGA is not new to the AIBC – we have been closely monitoring the situation and providing registrants with updates since the publishing of the Professional Reliance Report back in June 2018, and introduction of the Professional Governance Act in November of 2018.
As a reminder, Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia, as well as four other regulators in the natural resources and built environment sector professions, are already under the PGA. We will be collaborating closely with them and the OSPG throughout this transition. With both the AIBC and EGBC under the same overarching umbrella legislation, we anticipate greater consistency in the built environment, which is of benefit to everyone – registrants, regulators, and ultimately, the public.
The next step involves getting more information and sharing it with registrants. As mentioned, the AIBC has published a dedicated webpage which houses information regarding the OSPG, PGA and the transition. The webpage also includes Frequently Asked Questions – we ask that you submit your questions to email@example.com, which will be used to further populate the Q&A section. In addition, the AIBC will be hosting a virtual Town Hall session with Paul Craven, the Superintendent of the OSPG, to give registrants an opportunity to speak with the government directly. Dates for the Town Hall will be shared shortly and published on the AIBC website.
The AIBC has sought to modernize the Architects Act for many years, and has been actively engaged with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to address its deficiencies. Although amendments to the Architects Act now won’t be made, I would like to draw particular attention to a line in the government’s letter: that the PGA contains all the items that were being considered as amendments to the Architects Act. While this may not have been what we expected in terms of addressing the deficiencies of the Act, or as the conclusion to the Institute’s centenary year, there are many positives that come from this transition, as it better aligns the profession with current societal and governmental expectations and standards – something the Institute has been trying to accomplish for years.
Viewed in context, this change is both important and meaningful. It will allow the AIBC to more effectively regulate the profession in the public’s interest in an increasingly complex and interconnected world – a world where climate concerns are related to urbanization, and where pandemics can stymie necessary development like housing.
We will share information with you as soon as it becomes available, and are committed to ensuring that registrants are informed at each stage of the process.
I wish you all continued health in the coming months, and hope to see you at the 101st Annual Meeting in August.
Ian Ross McDonald Architect AIBC, AAA, NWTAA, OAA