Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Qualified professional legislation to restore public trust in natural-resource decision-making

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Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Qualified professional legislation to restore public trust in natural-resource decision-making

Media Contacts
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
250 953-3834
Media Contacts
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
250 953-3834

Backgrounders

Professional Governance Act and office of the superintendent of professional governance

The recently introduced Professional Governance Act will make several changes to how natural resource professions are governed to increase government oversight and ensure best practices for professional governance are implemented. 

The office of the superintendent of professional governance will be established to ensure accountability, transparency and the highest levels of professionalism are achieved consistently across professions.

Currently, the five regulated natural resource professions in scope for the professional reliance review are each overseen by the following self-governing bodies (professional regulators) mandated by various pieces of legislation overseen by four different ministries:

  • BC Institute of Agrologists;
  • Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC;
  • College of Applied Biology;
  • Engineers and Geoscientists BC; and
  • Association of BC Forest Professionals.

The proposed legislation, if approved, will bring government oversight of all five qualified-person regulators under the office and set consistent governance standards across the professions, including:

  • increasing public representation and instituting a merit-based nomination process for councils of professional regulators;
  • setting common ethical principles;
  • requiring competency and conflict of interest declarations from professionals;
  • strengthening professionals’ duty to report unethical conduct of other professionals;
  • providing whistle blower protections to those who report;
  • enabling practice rights to all five regulated professions; and
  • enabling professional regulators to regulate firms.

The professional regulators identified above are the only five to which the proposed Professional Governance Act would apply. However, the act, if passed, may be broadened to include additional professions once the initial phase of implementation is complete.

The proposed office will address public concerns about a perceived need for more government oversight and will have the mandate and authority to ensure professional regulators are acting in the public interest in their oversight of professionals.

Progress on the final report of the professional reliance review

The final report on the professional reliance review made a number of recommendations to improve natural resource regulatory regimes under nine statutes.

As part of broader goals and mandate commitments for natural resource management, government is taking action in a number of areas aligned with the report.

For instance, government has committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in providing capacity for Indigenous communities to engage in natural resource management.

Work is also underway to modernize land-use planning, revitalize the environmental assessment process, strengthen results-based laws and develop guidance to ensure professionals in B.C.’s natural resource sector are qualified and operate with clear objectives in order to uphold the public interest.

For example, government recently developed professional practice guidelines with Engineers and Geoscientists BC to ensure highway infrastructure is resilient to climate change. In May 2018, government also made amendments to the Riparian Areas Protection Act to improve the management of B.C.’s riparian areas.

In addition, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is pursuing opportunities to increase current staffing levels in monitoring, compliance and enforcement.

Ministries that oversee the nine statutes continue to review the recommendations in detail and continue consultation with Indigenous peoples, the business community, environmental groups and other public stakeholders. Consideration of the recommendations will take into account the clarity of expectation required by scientists and professionals who make decisions in the public interest.

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