The Professional Governance Act (“PGA”) came into force on February 5, 2021, codifying professional governance requirements and establishing the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (“OSPG”).1
The PGA was amended by the Professional Governance Amendment Act (the “Amendment”), which came into force on June 2, 2022.2 Although the Amendment received royal assent, some sections will only come in to force by regulation.3
Some of the key updates and additions in the Amendment include:
- Changes to the disciplinary process for certain administrative matters;
- An annual fee;
- The incorporation of traditional Indigenous knowledge; and
- Change to the conflict of interest declaration process.
In addition to these changes, the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (“AIBC”) is transitioning to the PGA.
Disciplinary Process for Administrative Matters
The Amendment changes the non-payment of fees from a mandatory revocation of registration to a discretionary revocation.
Section 50(2) of the PGA previously read as follows:
Fees and special assessments
(2) If a registrant fails to pay a fee, including the annual fee, a special assessment or a penalty imposed by the council under this Act by the time the fee, assessment or penalty is required to be paid, the registrant ceases to be a member of the regulatory body unless the council of the regulatory body otherwise directs, subject to bylaws made under subsection (1).
Pursuant to the new s. 50.1(1), the council of the regulatory body can make bylaws authorizing suspension or cancellation of a registrant’s registration. The procedure for the suspension, cancellation, and reinstatement of registration must be prescribed by the bylaws pursuant to section 50.1(2).
In addition, the new section 50.1 provides:
Cancellation or suspension of registration
50.1 (1) The council of a regulatory body may make bylaws authorizing the council to suspend or cancel the registration of a registrant of the regulatory body if the registrant fails to do any of the following:
(a) pay, within the specified period of time, a fee or a special assessment that is set or levied under a bylaw made under section 50;
(b) complete or provide proof of completion of, within the specified period of time, a continuing education program or requirements established in a bylaw made under section 57 (1) (e) or (f) [standards of conduct and competence];
(c) provide, within the specified period of time, a continuing education program established in a bylaw made under section 57 (1) (g);
(i) perform any other requirement under this Act that is prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
(2) Bylaws under subsection (1) must establish the following:
(a) procedures for the suspension or cancellation of a registration;
(b) requirements and procedures for the reinstatement of a registrant whose registration has been suspended or cancelled under subsection (1).
This new provision allows for matters such as continuing education compliance to be dealt with as an administrative matter, rather than as a professional conduct complaint. For example, after an appropriate amount of notice and reminders, suspension or cancellation of a registrant’s registration can take place for those who fail to complete continuing education requirements.
The new section 22.1 enables the Lieutenant Governor to implement an annual fee through regulations:
22.1 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations
(a) requiring regulatory bodies to pay an annual fee, and
(b) setting annual fee amounts.
(2) A regulatory body must, within the prescribed period of time, pay any annual fee required to be paid in a regulation under subsection (1).
This provision allows the OSPG to impose fees on regulators for OSPG’s operation. It is unclear what the fee structure will look like as the Debates Hansard suggests that 50% of the fees are to be charged to regulators.4 However, it appears that the OSPG has advised regulators that the majority of its budget will be publicly funded, and that any fee amount would be nominal.5 It is not anticipated that this will be in force until 2023/2024.
Traditional Indigenous Knowledge
The Amendment includes section 55.1, which allows a registrant’s professional opinion to include traditional indigenous perspectives. Section 55.1 creates an exception to section 54 of the PGA, which restricts the provision of regulated services to registrants, and it is intended to address traditional practices and knowledge in relation to biology, forestry and agrology.
55.1 (1) In this section, “Indigenous peoples” has the same meaning as in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
(2) Section 54 does not apply to a person exercising the rights of an Indigenous people, including the right to maintain, control, protect or develop any of the following with respect to the Indigenous people:
(a) cultural heritage;
(b) traditional knowledge;
(c) traditional cultural expressions;
(d) manifestations of sciences, technologies or cultures.
Conflict of Interest Declaration Process
The conflict of interest declaration process is shifting from default filing to filing as required by the regulations.6 Pursuant to the Amendment, the regulations may prescribe when conflict of interest declarations should be submitted to the superintendent of the OSPG. This amendment is meant to address certain competency and conflict of interest declaration obligations that were seen as onerous. The Amendment allow for more flexible, case-by-case and profession-specific declaration obligations to be established by regulation. More information regarding the conflict of interest filing requirements will be included in the regulation.
The regulation regarding conflict of interest declarations will be made pursuant to section 59(d) which will come into effect by regulation, and is not yet in force.7
In Progress: The Architectural Institute of British Columbia Transition
The PGA initially governed five self-regulatory bodies, but it was structured to incorporate additional regulatory bodies. The AIBC is transitioning to the PGA, and is expected to be fully transitioned by Fall 2022.8 This transition will impact the composition of the AIBC council as well as members’ ability to vote on by-laws.
The composition of the AIBC Council is being updated to include more public representation, comprised of seven elected registrant councillors (down from ten), four appointed lay councillors, and a non-voting past president.9 After the transition is complete, only the AIBC Council will be able to vote on by-laws, and members will be involved through a consultation process.10
Impact of the Amendment
The Amendment is intended to provide more flexibility and appropriate regulation for different professions depending on their specific needs; however, many of the details are yet to be stipulated by regulation.
1 Architectural Institute of British Columbia, “Frequently Asked Questions”.
2 Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, “Progress of Bills: 3rd Session, 42nd Parliament (2022)”.
3 Professional Governance Amendment Act, 2022, at s. 67 [PGA].
4 British Columbia, Legislative Assembly, Official Report of Debates (Hansard), 42nd Parl, 3rd Sess, Issue no 204 (11 May 2022) at 6595 (Hon D Eby) [Hansard].
5 Architectural Institute of British Columbia, “Professional Governance Act and Next Steps”.
6 Hansard supra note 4 at 6589 (Hon D Eby).
7 PGA, supra note 3 at s. 67.
8 Architectural Institute of British Columbia, “Professional Governance Act Transition”.
9 AIBC, supra note 1.