What is the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG)?
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 governance of regulated professionals. The OSPG will be the centre of expertise in government for professional governance matters. For now, the Superintendent’s mandate includes the five regulatory bodies with registrants working in the natural resource sector and built environment. The scope of the PGA allows for the Superintendent’s mandate to expand to include other professions.
The OSPG oversees governance of 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’s mandate does not include oversight of individual professionals.
Which five regulatory bodies does the OSPG oversee?
The five regulatory bodies are the BC Institute of Agrologists (BCIA), Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC), College of Applied Biology (CAB), Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC), and Association of BC Forest Professionals (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 8 staff.
Why is the Professional Governance Act needed?
The independent final report of the Professional Reliance Review recommended the creation of a new office to oversee professional regulation, develop best practices for professional governance, and standardize elements of professional governance through umbrella legislation.
Some of the elements of the PGA and oversight model were informed by issues observed with the existing model such as conflicts of interest and professional independence.
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 the PGA?
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 requires regulatory bodies to make bylaws that establish education programs for their professionals to support informed engagement and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
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 and these rights will be preserved with the transition to the PGA.
A lot of work needs to be completed before establishing 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 and a “What We Heard” that followed.
The OSPG will continue to work closely with the regulatory bodies under the PGA to implement practice rights for biologists, agrologists and science technologists and technicians.
Regulatory bodies are currently canvasing their registrants, other professionals and the public on how to enable practice rights.
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 will be set in regulation and may apply to all professional work, whether that work is regulated by government or not.
Input previously requested on this policy will be considered 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.
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 natural and built environments, and could include professions outside of these sectors.
Having the OSPG report to the Ministry of the Attorney General ensures it is arms-length from the ministries that employ and rely on those professions.