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Friday, March 1, 2019

The BCSLA Board of Directors are highlighting proposed legislation because there is time sensitive legislation that could affect how we all practice. Please read the following entry carefully.

In November 2018 BC government introduced legislation, " Bill 49 - 2018: The BC Professional Governance Act" as part of its platform to update stewardship of our natural resources.  The impact of this bill on our profession is not yet clear, but we wanted to keep you posted and ask for your help and support.  The Bill is just the start of the legislative process, with an explanatory note from the Provincial Government. Read the Regulations Intentions Paper.  

In December 2018, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy delivered a series of webinars for interested British Columbians to accompany the Regulations Intentions Paper consequent to the Professional Governance Act. Recordings of these presentations can be found below:

The questions and answers from these sessions will be posted on this page in the coming days.

“The Professional Governance Actwill modernize and strengthen the roles and expectations of qualified professionals in the province, in turn providing greater, science-based public oversight of how B.C.'s natural resources are managed. It will also establish an office of the superintendent of professional governance to ensure consistency and best practices are applied in the work of qualified professionals moving forward”.   It indicates that the legislation is "..aimed at making sure decisions affecting the province's natural resources are science-based, transparent and protect BC's unique environment for future generations. The legislation and the establishment of the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance are intended to increase public access to natural resource information and ensure professionals are held to the highest ethical and technical standards. They are being proposed in response to...recommendations included in the final report of the Professional Reliance Review, submitted in June 2018..."  
Five professions have been identified under the proposed legislation: Engineers and Geoscientist of BC (EGBC); Applied Science Technologist & Technicians of BC (ASTTBC); College of Applied Biology (CAB-BC);BC Institute of Agrologists (BCIA); and the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP).

While the details of these proposed changes in governance are yet to be fully understood, some scope items identified in the media release (see links provided below) potentially have significant implications for the BCSLA - for example:

  1. Does the BCSLA wish to endeavor to be included with the five regulated bodies already identified?
  2. Is there potential that we might be excluded from certain work?
  3. How would the BCSLA's governance change?

Since this legislation has the potential to affect our profession, and appears to be on a short-track towards implementation. We have engaged Dave Fushtey, LLB,  of The Governance Counsel to assist us to:

  1. understand what it proposes and what implications arise;
  2. to hear from you on your observations and
  3. develop a position and/or response to it.

Dave has worked with us on principled governance frameworks before and he will provide a preliminary analysis of the legislation and its implications developing a report to be presented to the BCSLA Board of Directors in mid-November.  We will also be providing a follow up on the status at that time.

Dave noted that the issues strike to the heart of being a professional. This proposed legislation requires us to act strategically and quickly.  We will be coordinating our inquiries and work with Victoria and other professional organizations, so at this point our focus is to assemble a better baseline of what is at stake, and help each other understand how to go forward. The time has come….
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