What is the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance?
The OSPG was established on June 1, 2019 through a regulation under the Professional Governance Act (PGA) to ensure consistency and best practices are applied in the work of qualified professionals moving forward. The OSPG will be the centre of expertise in government for professional governance matters. For now, the focus of the Superintendent’s mandate will be on the five regulatory bodies with members working in the natural resource sector. The scope of the Superintendent’s mandate may be expanded in the future to include other professions.
The OSPG oversees governance for the five regulatory bodies, administers the PGA, can conduct investigations and audits, research and develop best practices in governance, and take compliance actions such as issuing directives. The OSPG will not be focused on oversight of individual professionals.
The OSPG’s focus is on governance and not on the technical aspects of the professions that will be regulated under the PGA. The OSPG will not research practice standards or develop best practices on technical matters.
The OSPG was established in response to recommendations in the independent Professional Reliance Review Report.
Which five regulatory bodies does the OSPG oversee?
The five professional associations are the BC Institute of Agrologists (BCIA), Applied Science Technologists and Technicians BC (ASTTBC), College of Applied Biology (CAB), Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC), and Association of BC Professional Foresters (ABCFP).
How will the OSPG be funded – will it be paid for by taxpayers or professional fees?
The Ministry of Attorney General currently has a $1 million annual budget for the OSPG and 10 staff.
Why is the Professional Governance Act needed?
Recommendations from the independent final report of the Professional Reliance Review pointed to restructuring the governance of the five regulatory bodies by creating a new office to oversee professional legislation, developing best practices for professional governance as needed, and standardizing elements of professional governance through umbrella legislation.
Some of the elements of the PGA and oversight model were informed by real issues observed with the existing model such as conflicts of interest and professional independence.
In other cases, the legislation is putting a governance framework in place that follows international best practices and helps regulatory bodies to strengthen their role in protecting the public interest and improve public trust in professionals.
How has the input from Indigenous communities, and adopting UNDRIP, been reflected in this Act?
The Superintendent has a duty to promote awareness among the regulatory bodies to support reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
The Superintendent will do this by supporting implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The PGA will require regulatory bodies to make bylaws that establish education programs for their professionals to support informed engagement and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
What is the status of the remaining 119 recommendations from the Haddock Review which have yet to be addressed?
Government continues to review and consider the remainder of the report’s recommendations while continuing consultation with Indigenous peoples, the business community, environmental groups and other public stakeholders.
Many of the recommendations are being acted upon as part of government’s broader goals and mandate commitments for natural resource management, including strengthening results-based laws, building capacity for compliance and enforcement and modernizing land-use planning. Government has also committed to fully implementing United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We anticipate having a status update on the govTogetherBC website for Professional Reliance soon.
How soon will right to practice come into play?
The PGA enables practice rights to be granted to CAB, ASTTBC, and BCIA.
EGBC and ABCFP already have practice rights established under their current legislation.
Government does not intend to make any changes for professions that currently have practice rights.
There is a lot of work to be done to establish practice rights for agrologists, biologists and science technologists and technicians.
This will be a multi-year process that started with an early discussion with the public and with professionals through an intentions paper. A “What We Heard” report will be posted soon.
The OSPG will continue to work closely with the five regulatory bodies under the PGA over the coming years to implement practice rights for biologists, agrologists and science technologists and technicians.
Will the requirements for competence and conflict of interest declarations be applied for each project a professional works on or only those related to projects that go to provincial government decision makers?
Requirements for competency and conflict of interest declaration are not in force but will be set in regulation and may apply to all professional work, whether that work is regulated by government or not.
Government requested input on this policy topic in the intentions paper and will consider this input as policy is developed.
How will firms be regulated?
Once in force, firms would be required to register with a regulatory body, similar to how individual professionals are currently regulated.
Registrant firms would be subject to the PGA provisions as well as bylaws set by regulatory bodies covering areas such as standards of conduct and competence, audits, practice reviews and discipline.
Regulatory development will consider models used elsewhere and best practices, for example, requiring firms to develop and submit management plans to regulatory bodies to show how they are meeting professional standards, and supporting their professional employees to meet continuous professional development requirements.
What changes could individual professionals see once the PGA is fully implemented?
The PGA for the most part has implications for the regulatory bodies. Interactions between regulatory bodies and individual registrants will mainly continue as before.
However, individual registrants may see changes in how they participate in the decisions of their regulatory bodies. They may see new or different standards related to professionalism, including updated codes of ethics, mandatory continuing education programs, declaration requirements, and an expanded duty to report. They may also see changes to discipline processes.
The granting of practice rights may result in individuals being required to register with a regulatory body to carry out certain professional work.
Will the PGA expand to include other professions in the future?
The Superintendent will be able to receive applications from other professions for designation under the PGA, and to conduct investigations to determine if it is in the public interest for a profession to be designated under the PGA.
The Lieutenant Governor in Council is responsible for designating new professions following a recommendation by the minister. This authority is not yet in force, as designating new professions is intended for a later stage of implementation. Government has not communicated that it intends for all regulated professions in B.C. to be under the PGA.
Why is the OSPG under the Ministry of the Attorney General and not the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy?
The Professional Governance Act establishes the OSPG under the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The full scope of responsibilities of the OSPG goes beyond those affecting matters related to the environment and natural resources development.
Having the OSPG report to the Ministry of the Attorney General ensures the it is arms-length from the ministries that employ and rely on those natural resource professions.
Why is the superintendent overseeing professionals outside the natural resources sector?
The role of the Superintendent is to oversee regulatory bodies, not individual professionals.
The regulatory bodies covered under the Professional Governance Act include professionals from a wide range of disciplines beyond those operating in the natural resources sector.
As the Superintendent will oversee these five regulatory bodies, their mandate covers those disciplines that are already included in those professional associations.