Professional Governance Act
The Professional Governance Act (PGA) provides a consistent governance framework for self-regulating professions that incorporates best practices of professional governance. The PGA, which received Royal Assent on November 27, 2018, will initially govern the five professional regulators overseeing agrologists, applied biologists, applied science technologists and technicians, engineers and geoscientists, and forest professionals. Professional regulators governed by the PGA will be referred to as ‘regulatory bodies’.
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 will be 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 will be brought into force through regulation, with implementation occurring in stages. The Third Reading of Bill 49- 2018: The Professional Governance Act contains the full text of the statute, including sections that are not currently in force.
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.
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, making decisions on enrolment, and taking 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 can be 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 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 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.
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;
- Registrants not filing declarations of competency or declarations of conflict of interest as required in regulation; and
- 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 monetary penalties imposed by the Superintendent. Injunctions can also be sought to restrain persons from contravening the PGA. At this time most offence provisions, and the authority to impose administrative penalties, are not in force.
Regulatory bodies may also take disciplinary actions against their registrants. An adverse 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.
In December 2018 the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy delivered a series of webinars for interested British Columbians on the PGA and on the topics presented for feedback in the Regulations Intentions Paper consequent to the Professional Governance Act. Recordings of these webinars, as well as supplemental questions and answers raised during these sessions, are provided below.
Professional Governance Act Overview:
• Professional Governance Act Overview – General Webinar
• Professional Governance Act Overview – Indigenous
• Professional Governance Act Overview – General: Questions and Answers
Practice Rights of Professions:
• Practice Rights of Professions Webinar
• Practice Rights of Professions: Questions and Answers
Competency Declarations and Conflict of Interest Declarations:
• Competency Declarations and Conflict of Interest Declarations
• Competency Declarations and Conflict of Interest Declarations: Questions and Answers
For additional background on the Professional Reliance Review please see the independent Final Report. Government continues to consider responses to recommendations in the report.