VICTORIA— British Columbia is looking to shore up trust about natural resources.
The B.C. government is introducing legislation called the Professional Governance Act to ensure decisions regarding natural resources are science-based, transparent and protect the province’s environment, a government release said.
The act would, if passed, “modernize and strengthen the roles and expectations of qualified professionals in the province” and establish an office of the superintendent of professional governance.
The legislation and proposed office are in response to two recommendations included in the Professional Reliance Review final report submitted in June 2018 following public engagement.
The report also focused on natural resource regulatory regimes, and the release stated the B.C. government is acting on those recommendations as part of a broader goal to natural resource management including building government capacity for compliance and enforcement, modernizing land-use planning, strengthening results-based laws and building partnerships with Indigenous people.
“These changes will help strengthen public trust that the health and safety of their communities always comes first. They will also give greater certainty to industry and qualified professionals. I am encouraged that government has acted quickly to implement these key recommendations from Mark Haddock’s report and I am hopeful that we will also see action on his other recommendations,” Cowichan Valley MLS Sonia Furstenau said in a statement.
Currently five regulated natural resource professions are overseen by self-governing bodies such as the BC Institute of Agrologists, Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC, the College of Applied Biology, Engineers and Geoscientists BC and the Association of BC Forest Professionals.
If approved, the legislation would bring government oversight of the qualified-person regulators under the office of the superintendent and set governance standards across the professions.
The Professional Governance Act would also initially only apply to the five above organizations but could be broadened to include additional professions once initial implementation is complete.
“We support efforts to improve the regulatory framework and are hopeful that the legislation introduced today can achieve that goal. Changes to regulatory models are complex and require careful implementation, especially when managing areas of practice overlap. We are committed to working with government to ensure this is accomplished to the benefit of the public we both serve,” said Engineers and Geoscientists BC CEO and registrar Ann English.