From Engineers and Geoscientists BC, July 30, 2018 (view this online):
As many of you know, the BC Government has been engaged in a review of the professional reliance model in the natural resource sector. This process, and the reforms that are being recommended in government’s Professional Reliance Review report, could fundamentally reshape our professions and how they are governed.
These changes would impact all members, not just those who work in the natural resource sector.
WHAT CHANGES ARE PROPOSED?
The report makes 121 recommendations in total that would introduce sweeping changes to the governance of regulators like Engineers and Geoscientists BC. These include:
- Creating a new Office of Professional Regulation and Oversight, which would monitor and direct Engineers and Geoscientists BC along with four other professions under new umbrella legislation;
- Overhauling our governance processes, potentially eliminating elections to Council; and
- Limiting our ability to promote and sustain our professions through outreach and diversity initiatives.
WHAT IS THE OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL REGULATION AND OVERSIGHT, AND HOW WOULD IT WORK?
One of our major concerns is that while the Office would have broad and sweeping powers, its mandate is not defined. Its proposed authority appears to reflect the healthcare oversight model used in BC and the UK. Not only is this model untested in other industries, but the Health Professions Act, on which this model is based, is under review by the Minister of Health due to concerns about its effectiveness.
WHAT KIND OF NEW POWERS WOULD THE OFFICE HAVE?
In addition to the authority to appoint members of Council, the Office would also be given sweeping powers to appeal independent decisions by the regulators, including registration decisions. This could mean admitting someone to the profession even though an independent committee of peers determined they did not meet the standard.
WHAT OTHER CONCERNS ARE EMERGING WITH RESPECT TO THIS NEW REGULATORY MODEL?
Just 20% of our members work in the natural resource sector; it is not clear how an independent body focused on natural resources would provide effective oversight for the remaining 80% of our members working outside this industry. We also understand that it will take several years to fully establish the Office. In the interim, several recommended improvements to the regulatory model will be delayed (e.g., corporate regulation). We believe this will be detrimental to, rather than beneficial to, the public interest.
HOW WILL ALL OF THIS BE PAID FOR?
Funding for this new governance model was not considered as part of the government report; however, it is based on a model in use in the UK for healthcare regulators. Under that model, the regulators and their members fund the office. We are concerned that this will be ineffective and may result in unintended consequences that undermine effective regulation, and we are encouraging government to reconsider its approach. We believe that if this new Office is created, it should be funded by government.
HOW IS ENGINEERS AND GEOSCIENTISTS BC RESPONDING TO THIS REPORT?
Engineers and Geoscientists BC holds its duty to protect the public interest above all else. We have a demonstrated track record of continuously improving our regulatory model to the benefit of the government and the public we both serve. We believe these changes will introduce risks to effective regulation, and could result in unintended consequences.
We have many outstanding questions, and are working hard to find the answers. We are actively engaged in a consultation process where we are raising these concerns. In addition, we are proactively engaging the other impacted regulators, government officials, MLAs, and ministers to ensure that the legacy of effective self-regulation is not lost or undermined as a result of this process.
We are asking all of our members to pay attention to these important reforms. That means checking our website for the latest information, watching your email for updates and staying connected to your colleagues.