Professional Governance Act
Creation of the PGA
The PGA was created in response to recommendations made in the independent Final Report of the Professional Reliance Review submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy in June, 2018. The PGA implements two of the Review’s recommendations by legislating best practices for professional governance and establishing the OSPG for consistent and independent oversight of the professional regulators. The PGA received Royal Assent on November 27, 2018.
The Professional Governance Act (PGA) provides a consistent governance framework for self-regulating professions that incorporates best practices of professional governance. The PGA currently governs the five regulatory bodies overseeing agrologists, applied biologists, applied science technologists and technicians, engineers and geoscientists, and forest professionals.
The PGA also strengthens government oversight by establishing a statutory Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG) in the Ministry of Attorney General. The OSPG is responsible for administering the PGA and for ensuring that best practices for professional governance are implemented. The establishment of the OSPG simplifies and standardizes how professions governed by the PGA are regulated by government.
The PGA takes effect on February 5, 2021. The PGA and its regulations can be viewed on the bclaws website.
Regulating Professions Under the PGA
The PGA provides authorities for the key functions and structures of a regulatory body including overall duties and responsibilities, governance structures (council and committees), establishing bylaws, holding meetings, enrolment procedures, and disciplinary actions. The legislation lays out a consistent set of ethical principles and expectations regarding the conduct of professionals and is considered a best practice in professional governance. The PGA is not specific to any profession or sector. Regulations and bylaws have been developed under the PGA to allow regulatory bodies to meet the specific needs of their professions.
The PGA includes the ability to expand the governance framework from the five professional regulators currently in scope to other professions. The Architectual Institute of BC will be designated once the work has been completed for them to transition to governance under the PGA.
The PGA enables regulatory bodies to establish protected titles for their professions as well as reserved or protected areas of practice for their professions. The PGA also provides authority for regulatory bodies to regulate firms as registrants.
The Professional Governance General Regulation (PGGR) has been established under the PGA. This regulation supports the implementation of the PGA by:
- Identifying other relevant provincial legislation that is related to the practice of professions in scope of the PGA for the purpose of establishing an Advisory Council and setting its mandate;
- Setting out merit-based selection principles and process for nomination of registrant councillors for election; and
- Identifying documents and information that may be disclosed in the public interest.
The PGGR has been updated for other administrative matters, including, but not limited to, the oath of office for council members, protection of personal privacy, transferring registrants from former legislation, and exceptions to bylaw filing requirements.
The Professional Governance (Election Stagger) Transitional Regulation has been established to enable the regulatory bodies to stagger elections for their respective councils and gradually adjust the size of their current councils to align with the requirements of the PGA.
New professional regulations for each individual regulatory body under the PGA have been established. These regulations set out the type of registrants that may be registered by each regulatory body, the titles that may be conferred on registrants of a particular regulatory body and the scope of practice for registrants of a particular regulatory body.
Offences and Fines
The PGA establishes offenses for:
- Inappropriate use of a reserved professional title or practicing in a reserved area of practice for a profession;
- Not upholding the duty to report other registrants whose practice may pose a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the public;
- Discriminatory actions taken against anyone who upholds their duty to report;
- Obstructing an investigation or audit by the Superintendent or obstructing an inspection or search under the PGA.
These offences can be enforced through prosecution where persons convicted of an offence may be subject to fines or imprisonment, or through administrative penalties imposed by the Superintendent. Injunctions can also be sought to restrain persons from contravening the PGA.
Regulatory bodies may also take disciplinary actions against their registrants. A determination against a registrant in a disciplinary hearing can result in a reprimand, fine, conditions imposed on their registration, suspension or cancellation of their registration or other remedial actions.