INNOVATION July-August 2015
a ct changes
Legislative Amendment Consultation Results: Request for Proposed Act Changes to Proceed
APEGBC’s governing legislation, the Engineers and Geoscientists Act (Act) , has been in need of modernization for some time. Successive councils have been working to gradually bring this document up-to-date with the functions of a modern regulatory organization. Part of the challenge is that only government has the power amend to the Act , and any proposed changes must be made through a request to the Ministry of Advanced Education. Over a period of eight months, we consulted with key stakeholders on proposed changes to the Act . The changes are intended to provide for: • Housekeeping updates to accurately reflect regulatory processes • Tools to address public safety challenges • The ability for qualified practitioners to fully participate • More effective handling of non-compliance with CPD bylaw. For more background on the proposed Act amendments, visit apeg.bc.ca/legislation. At its June 19, 2015 meeting, APEGBC’s Council reviewed stakeholder consultation results and recommendations based on that feedback, as well as research and legal analysis. Council approved a motion to proceed with a request to government for changes to the Act . within their scope of practice • Accountability in governance
• One-on-one interactions, in person and via phone and e-mail • A member survey. The member survey conducted in February 2015 drew 2,494 participants. Overall, respondents were mostly supportive of the amendments consulted on with the exception of the amendment related to CPD compliance, which most did not support. Removal of References to Board of Examiners This amendment proposed that outdated references to the Board of Examiners in the Act be rewritten or removed, and that the Registration Committee potentially be made a statutory committee, reflecting its role in the registration process. Survey results indicated that 71.6% of respondents supported this amendment (6.7% did not support; 2.2% would support with changes; 19.5% were indifferent). Although support for these housekeeping changes to the Act was quite high, we heard some concerns, such as the perception that this was a move to eliminate the Board of Examiners altogether. After further consideration, the amendment will seek to remove the statutory status of the Board of Examiners, while retaining their function, rewriting parts of the Act with a more comprehensive provision allowing Council to set policy for examinations, includ- ing the power to delegate. The Act would also be amended to reflect the role of the Registration Committee. Interim Suspension or Conditions by the Investigation Committee Where there are indications that a member’s conduct could pose an immediate danger to the public, this proposed amendment would allow the Investigation Committee to impose conditions or issue an interim suspension, rather than later at the discipline stage. Support for this amendment was indicated by 59.1% of respon- dents (23.7% did not support; 8.5% would support with changes; 8.7% were indifferent). Members were mostly concerned that due process not be circumvented. Some also felt this was unnecessary as a pre-emptive measure, and wanted to see proof it is needed. It is in the public interest for APEGBC to take action as soon as pos- sible when, for example, a professional’s judgment is in serious question and the public is at risk. As proposed, the amendment would permit an appeal of the suspension to the courts and would still follow due pro- cess, as the matter would still be required to continue to a full inquiry in front of the Discipline Committee, according to the usual procedure. Fitness to Practice This proposed amendment would create a fitness to practice require- ment allowing for consideration of a person’s state of mental health in determining competence for professional registration or practice. Member support for this amendment was 47.9% (34.8% did not support; 8% would support with changes; 9.4% were indifferent). While there was support for this amendment, we saw a more even distribution between support and opposition. During consultation, some raised the concern that it was not APEGBC’s role to seek a mental health assessment, and that creating a fitness to practice requirement could be discriminatory and stigmatize mental illness. Others noted that there was a potential for abuse arising from false claims against professionals.
Overview of Legislative Amendment Process
REQUEST SUMMER 2015 Request for amendments made to
PREPARATION AUG/SEPT 2014 Amendments approved for consultation- sustainability. Identify consultation tactics.
CONSULTATION OCT 2014 – MAY 2015 Amendments presented to stakeholders for input. Identify themes, concerns, gaps.
DECISION JUNE 2015 Consultation results and
CONSIDERATION BY GOVERNMENT 2016 Approval of the legislature. Royal assent.
recommenda- tions presented to Council for decision.
Ministry of Advanced Education.
Consultation Results From October 2014 to May 2015, APEGBC presented informa- tion to members and stakeholders on the Act and the rationale for modernization, as well as an overview of amendments and reasons they are being proposed. Members were informed of opportunities for dialogue and invited to participate. A challenging aspect of consultation was that only concepts for the proposed amendments could be presented for review, as actual changes to the Act are drafted by government. Consultation was undertaken through: • Meetings and other engagement with members and key external stakeholders (regional consultation events, AIBC, ASTTBC, ACEC-BC) • Meetings with APEGBC volunteer groups (e.g., Branch representatives, committees, past presidents)
J U LY/AU G U S T 2 015
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