Professional Governance Advisory Committee
As provided for in Section 6 of the PGA, the Attorney General appointed the Professional Governance Advisory Committee on February 12, 2020. The Advisory Committee serves an important role in enabling continued communication on policy and governance topics between the OSPG, the regulatory bodies and ministries responsible for relevant enactments. It provides a forum for discussion of issues and matters of interest involving professional governance in B.C., including ministry enactments that impact professionals, PGA topics that may impact ministries and employers of professionals, and oversight topics that may impact OSPG.
The Advisory Committee is mandated to:
- Provide a venue for regulatory bodies and ministry staff to ideas related to their operations and the PGA, and
- Perform other duties the Minister requires or as prescribed by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Senior staff from the following organizations have been appointed to the Advisory Committee, which is chaired by the Superintendent of Professional Governance:
- Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship
- Ministry of Forests
- Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
- Ministry Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
- Ministry Environment and Climate Change Strategy
- Environmental Assessment Office
- Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
- Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training
- Ministry of Municipal Affairs
- Oil and Gas Commission
- Office of Housing Construction Standards
- Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC
- Forest Professionals BC
- BC Institute of Agrologists
- BC Society of Landscape Architects
- College Applied Biology
- Engineers and Geoscientists of BC
- Architectural Institute of BC
The PGA currently applies to six regulatory bodies and there is also the potential for other regulators to come under this legislation in the future. The membership of the Advisory Committee will evolve accordingly.
Advisory Committee 2021: Year in Review
Since being formed, the Advisory Committee has been meeting on a quarterly basis to discuss issues relevant to professional governance. In general, the meeting agendas have focused on:
- Discussing the application of PGA to government registrants, including the duty to report provisions
- Sharing developments, such as reserved practice
- Discussing current litigation and case law
- Ensuring the right parties obtain new information as it develops
- Sharing best practices
A brief overview of topics discussed over the year can be found below.
Regulatory Complaints vs. Government Policy
Regulatory bodies sometimes receive complaints regarding professional activities that have more to do with government policy than the work being undertaken by their registrants. This challenge was discussed by the Advisory Committee, including the importance of having a process for regulatory bodies to refer government policy complaints to the appropriate area in government.
It was determined that the Advisory Committee meetings could allow the regulatory bodies to bring these concerns to the attention of the ministry representatives and to work towards creating a streamlined process of communication to ensure the correct government office is informed of and can respond to policy-related concerns in a timely fashion.
Reserved Practice and Third-Party Legislation
During several meetings, committee members were able to draw upon and learn from the successes of each other, such as with reserved practice and third-party legislation. The Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (EGBC) shared their strategy for their risk-managed evaluation of gaps in third-party legislation – highlighting a need to tighten the circle between current legislation and requirements stemming from the reserved practice of a profession.
Qualified Professional Misconduct Guidance
During the year, ministries have developed guidance which offers a strategy for addressing professional misconduct. The guidance documents are meant to support ministry staff in addressing unsatisfactory performance and alleged misconduct by qualified professionals who work under ministry legislation.
In sharing these documents with the Committee, ministries have been able to receive valuable feedback to further develop the documents, while also providing inspiration for other ministries to use the documents as a foundation for the development of their own misconduct guidelines.
Registrants and Statutory Decision-Makers
Statutory decision-makers (SDM) within government play a pivotal role in administering statutes, which in turn allow ministries to carry out their mandate. This role was discussed along with potential challenges and the benefits of SDMs maintaining their professional status. Conversations on the topic are ongoing and through these conversations, valuable insights have been shared and Committee members have been able to strengthen their working relationships.
Over the course of the year, the Advisory Committee discussed the importance of regulatory bodies keeping ministries informed of planned new practice guidance or planned amendments to practice guidance. The benefit of this stems from allowing ministries an opportunity to provide feedback, which in turn allows for maximum success of the proposed practice guidance. The Advisory Committee also discussed the importance of closing the circle on the process by having regulatory bodies inform affected ministries of the changes once updated practice guidance is released so that ministry staff can also be informed of changes that may impact their work.
Collaboration on Regulation of Firms
Over the past year, OSPG has worked with EGBC and the other regulatory bodies on the regulation of firms, which is enabled through the Professional Governance Act.
With EGBC’s successful implementation of their firm regulation program in summer 2021, some ministries represented on the Committee are now undergoing the process of registering as firms with EGBC. The Advisory Committee will continue to provide a venue to share advice and insights on firm regulation should other ministries become registered as firms in the future.
If you have any questions about the Advisory Committee, feel free to send an email to OSPGEnquiries@gov.bc.ca