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Province of British Columbia
NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
2018ENV0078-002045
Oct. 22, 2018
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Qualified professional legislation to restore public trust in natural-resource decision-making

VICTORIA – The B.C. government has introduced legislation aimed at making sure decisions affecting the province’s natural resources are science-based, transparent and protect B.C.’s unique environment for future generations.

The Professional Governance Act will, if passed, modernize and strengthen the roles and expectations of qualified professionals in the province, in turn providing greater, science-based public oversight of how B.C.’s natural resources are managed. It will also establish an office of the superintendent of professional governance to ensure consistency and best practices are applied in the work of qualified professionals moving forward.

“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,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “British Columbians are rightly proud of our natural resources and environment — they represent who we are and where we’ve come from. This legislation recognizes that legacy and symbolizes a recommitment to putting the public interest first when it comes to managing our natural resources.”

"These changes will help strengthen public trust that the health and safety of their communities always comes first,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “They will also give greater certainty to industry and qualified professionals. I am encouraged that government has acted quickly to implement these key recommendations from Mark Haddock’s report and I am hopeful that we will also see action on his other recommendations.”

The legislation and the establishment of the office of the superintendent of professional governance are intended to increase public access to natural resource information and ensure professionals are held to the highest ethical and technical standards. They are being proposed in response to two recommendations included in the final report of the Professional Reliance Review, submitted in June 2018 following a full public engagement process.

The remainder of the report and recommendations focus on natural resource regulatory regimes. Government is acting on many of these recommendations as part of broader goals and mandate commitments for natural resource management, including strengthening results-based laws, building government capacity for compliance and enforcement, modernizing land-use planning and building partnerships with Indigenous peoples for resource management. Other recommendations will be considered by specific ministries over the coming months.

“The changes we’re proposing will help restore public confidence in the professional reliance model and give certainty to resource companies that rely on qualified professionals,” said Heyman.

Quotes:

Theresa McCurry, CEO, Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of B.C. —

“The new professional reliance legislation could provide Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) with the authority to govern the respective practice of technology professionals. ASTTBC ensures that its members are certified and competent in their jobs, which is essential for ethical and safe technology practice. These requirements are based on competency assessments, adherence to a code of ethics and a commitment to continuous professional development.”

Christine Gelowitz, RPF, CEO of the Association of B.C. Forest Professionals —

“The Professional Governance Act and office of the superintendent of professional governance will significantly change how forest professionals are governed. We hope these changes will achieve the government’s goal of increasing public confidence in the management of B.C.’s natural resources and we look forward to working with the government on the remaining recommendations that will directly affect management of the land base.”

Bob Peart, co-ordinator, Professional Reliance Working Group of Concerned Citizens —

"We thank the government for taking this first step towards protecting B.C.’s natural resource sector by legislating the governance of qualified professionals. The report shone a spotlight on the myriad ways that the current professional reliance regime is failing communities and ecosystems. We strongly encourage the government to implement the report’s recommendations in their entirety, in a clear and transparent manner; and now await the next steps in the process."

Bob Fleet, vice-president environment and forestry, Tolko Industries Ltd. —

“Tolko is pleased to support the government’s efforts to improve the British Columbia professional reliance model. We have been included in a comprehensive consultation process that has enabled us to contribute to the new approach to professional reliance. We are hopeful and confident that this new approach will secure the public’s trust that British Columbia’s natural resources are being managed professionally, sustainably and responsibly.”

Ann English, P.Eng., CEO and registrar, Engineers and Geoscientists B.C. —

“We support efforts to improve the regulatory framework and are hopeful that the legislation introduced today can achieve that goal. Changes to regulatory models are complex and require careful implementation, especially when managing areas of practice overlap. We are committed to working with government to ensure this is accomplished to the benefit of the public we both serve.”

JP Ellson, executive director/registrar, British Columbia Institute of Agrologists (BCIA) —

“BCIA welcomes the government granting of practice rights to professional agrologists across the province as that will ensure that all persons working in our field will be subject to the same level of oversight. We look forward to working with government to determine full implementation of all of the recommendations within the Haddock report. Only through full implementation can the challenges within the natural resource sector be addressed.”

Brad Herald, vice-president Western Canada operations, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers —

“The professional reliance model plays a vital role in maintaining the competitiveness of B.C. We support government’s effort to achieve strong and consistent governance across all professional organizations to ensure responsible resource development.”

Christine Houghton, executive director, College of Applied Biology —

“The legislation introduced today is a result of government’s year-long process to transform how we manage natural resources in B.C. By granting right to practice to applied biology professionals, government has recognized this profession as critical to upholding public confidence. This is a significant step forward to better protect the public interest. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to implement other critical recommendations in the Haddock report.”

Two backgrounders follow.

 
Contact:
 
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
250 953-3834
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER 1
For Immediate Release
2018ENV0078-002045
Oct. 22, 2018
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
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.

 
Contact:
 
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
250 953-3834
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER 2
For Immediate Release
2018ENV0078-002045
Oct. 22, 2018
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
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.

 
Contact:
 
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
250 953-3834
 

 
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