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.
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).
The Ministry of Attorney General currently has a $1 million annual budget for the OSPG and 8 staff.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once in force, firms would be required to register with a regulatory body, similar to how individual professionals are currently regulated.
When the regulation of firms involves multiple professions, the intent is that multiple registration processes will be avoided so that multidisciplinary firms will only have to go through one registration process for all the professions under the PGA that they work in.
Registrant firms would be required to meet the requirements set out in provisions of the PGA that also apply to firms as well as the requirements set out by the regulatory body through its bylaws
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.
The regulation of firms will be implemented in phases. Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC) will regulate engineering and geoscience firms first with a tentative start of summer 2021.
The other regulatory bodies will be enabled to regulate firms when ready and based on the experience gained from EGBC’s firm regulation program.
Regulated firms will be given some form of a permit to practice.
A requirement of registration will include mandatory training for delegates of the firms in how to prepare their required Professional Practice Management Plan and have their firm meet the ethical, quality management and continuing education requirements of registration.
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.
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.
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.