ABCFP Forestry Conference – Q&A with Paul Craven, Superintendent of Professional Governance

The following questions were posed by participants at the ABCFP’s 2020 forestry conference in Nanaimo on February 6, 2020, following the presentation by the Superintendent of Professional Governance, Paul Craven. The answers provided below may serve as a resource for forest professionals.

There are 49 questions in total, each related to the following areas:

You can also download the full OSPG questions and answer in a PDF format.

Professional Governance Act (PGA)

  • 1.  Is there a similar regulator of regulators model elsewhere in Canada or the world?

    - In places such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Manitoba, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec, various US states, and BC (for health professions), a single office, operating either within or independent from government, provides an oversight role to multiple regulatory bodies that govern professions.

  • 2.  Is there any reason to believe the associations will be regulated better under this umbrella rather than under self-governance?

    - The intention of the PGA is to modernize and clarify the role of regulatory bodies while increasing, centralizing, and focusing government oversight of the bodies governed by the PGA.

    - The Superintendent has a variety of tools and authorities under the PGA to ensure regulatory bodies are complying with the PGA and acting in the public interest. These include providing standards of good regulation that indicate the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance’s (OSPG) expectations regarding their governance; providing information on best practices in professional governance; assisting with the development of and ensuring compliance with a consistent complaints and discipline process and principles; providing guidance that regulatory bodies must consider and directives that regulatory bodies must follow; having the mandate to carry out investigations when required; and to do audits on a regular basis to determine compliance with the PGA.

    - The intention is not to interfere with daily functions of regulatory bodies, but rather to help regulators provide professional governance according to best practices and in the public interest, and to identify and investigate any systemic issues that may be present within regulatory bodies.

  • 3.  How does this all result in better outcomes or increased trust?

    - The legislation is putting a modern governance framework in place that follows international best practices and helps regulatory bodies to strengthen their role in protecting the public interest and improve public trust in professionals.

  • 4.  How many professionals in total across BC will be governed by the PGA? Is this an effective use of BC tax dollars?

    - The current five regulatory bodies regulate over 52,000 professionals and this number is expected to grow as practice rights are established for some professions. The regulatory bodies and professions governed by PGA are also expect to expand to over time.

    - Bringing the professions under one statute with a single oversight body creates efficiencies through standardized processes, opportunities for collaboration between regulatory bodies, and the ability of government to be more responsive to the governance needs of these professions.

  • 5.  The PG model is being built on top of foundations that were not developed by vote and input under this framework. Shouldn’t the entire structure be given a new opportunity (push) to revise with input?

    - Engagement during the Professional Reliance Review involved interested citizens, professionals, employers of professionals, industry, and levels of government including Indigenous nations and generated over 4,000 responses. This engagement informed the independent final report that included recommendations for a new Act and establishing an oversight office.

    - OSPG continues to work collaboratively with the included regulatory bodies in the implementation of the PGA.

    - Regulatory bodies under the PGA have a duty to serve and protect the public interest with respect to the practice of a profession.

  • 6.  What ways do you see the PGA improving how professions uphold the public interest? What special support does the PGA provide in upholding public trust?

    - The PGA includes requirements of regulatory bodies that strengthen and clarify their duty and responsibilities to serve and protect the public interest. It requires lay people on councils and committees, introduces reserved practice rights for some professions, the ability to regulate firms, and greater transparency through requirements to publish certain information. The OSPG has developed standards of good regulation, which outline expectations for each of the regulatory functions of a regulatory body, and the PGA allows for the OSPG to audit and report on regulatory body performance against these standards.

  • 7.  How does your office define "public interest?"

    - While not defined in statute or policy, the term ‘public interest’ is a concept that has evolved over time to capture the principle that government serves and is responsible to the ‘people’ or the ‘broader public’ rather than the interest or concerns of any one individual or group of individuals. The public interest is not static and will vary over time, as social values and goals evolve and change. Any consideration of the public interest will be contextual in nature — in relation to both the potential impacts of a decision and the members of society that might be affected by those impacts. With respect to the regulation of professions, the public interest has always been a key purpose or duty of the regulatory bodies. The list of responsibilities for regulatory bodies included in section 22 of the PGA provides clarity and consistency in what is meant by the public interest in this context.

  • 8.  What problems are going to be solved by having the PGA versus the Foresters Act?

    - There is a general shift in professional governance away from self-regulation alone towards self-regulation with specific oversight. Professionals in the natural and built environment are not the only professionals to exist or be brought under an oversight body in BC.

    - The independent final report of the Professional Reliance Review recommended the creation of the new office to oversee professional regulation, develop best practices for professional governance, and standardize elements of professional governance through umbrella legislation; not just for professionals in the natural and built environment, but with the potential to include others as well.

    - Some of the elements of the PGA and oversight model were informed by issues observed with the existing model, such as conflicts of interest and professional independence.

    - The legislation puts a governance framework in place that follows international best practices and helps regulatory bodies to strengthen their role in protecting the public interest and improve public trust in professionals.

Office of Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG)

  • 9. How is the OSPG funded?

    - The OSPG is part of the Ministry of Attorney General and receives its budget through ministry processes.

  • 10. How many professionals will be employed in your office?

    • There are eight staff on the team currently, including the Superintendent and policy staff with expertise in professional governance. While our current focus is on policy and regulation development to support implementation, as OSPG shifts to operations in the future, the current staff may shift their focus, and the work may require more staff or staff with other skills.

  • 11. Thinking about your knowledge and awareness of the practice of professional forestry, are there RPFs and RFTs on your staff?

    - The mandate of the OSPG is to ensure the regulatory bodies are practicing good professional governance. OSPG staff have policy expertise in and knowledge of professional governance, which enables them to ensure the regulatory bodies under its oversight comply with the PGA and serve and protect the public interest.

    - Staff can include individuals from the professions the OSPG oversees and it is helpful to have a strong understanding of the professions that fall under the PGA. That said, it is the role of the regulatory body to regulate the profession.

    - The Superintendent’s job description expressly prohibits them from being a registrant of one of the regulatory bodies.

  • 12. Is the OSPG planning similar oversight for other professions: lawyers, accountants etc.?

    - The PGA is broad enough to enable the inclusion of other professions or regulatory bodies.

    - Once the Act is fully in force, The Superintendent will be able to receive applications from other professions for designation under the PGA, and to conduct investigations to determine if it is in the public interest for a profession to be designated under the PGA.

    - The Lieutenant Governor in Council (provincial cabinet) is responsible for designating new professions following a recommendation by the minister. This authority is not yet in force, as designating new professions is intended for a later stage of implementation.

  • 13. The Act allows you to merge associations. Do you have plans for this?

    - The Superintendent will be able to receive applications for amalgamation and to conduct investigations to determine if it is in the public interest for professional bodies to be amalgamated under the PGA.

  • - The Lieutenant Governor in Council (provincial cabinet) makes the final decision about an amalgamation of professions following a recommendation by the Superintendent. This authority is not yet in force.

  • 14. How do you personally ensure that regulations and policies developed by your office are practical and adaptive? What mandate has the government provided you to be cooperative rather than instructive?

    - The government has provided the framework for oversight of professions, created the OSPG, and has appointed the Superintendent to ensure implementation of the PGA and that regulatory bodies comply with the PGA. It is up to the Superintendent to determine how to make that happen.

    - The desire is to develop policies and regulation that make sense to the regulatory bodies. The Superintendent and the OSPG’s approach is to work collaboratively with regulatory bodies to iteratively develop policies and consult on regulations. This includes regular monthly meetings with all five regulatory bodies and one-on-one meetings with regulatory bodies on specific topics, as needed.

    - In addition, the OSPG is implementing the PGA in phases, with some provisions such as declarations planned to come into force at a later phase to ensure that practical policy can be developed. This will also ensure the regulatory bodies have the time and resources to make the required changes.

  • 15. Does your office provide financial support to associations to meet the new requirements?

    - No. Regulatory bodies determine what is required to carry out their regulatory functions without involvement from the OSPG.

Environment and Natural Resource Sector

  • 16. What is your view of the difference between regulating professionals in natural resources vs. health care, law, or other direct public services? We manage landscapes.

    - Since the early 1990s, beginning with the health sector, several reports and reviews urged changes to and a modernization of the self-regulation regime. The reports and reviews of a variety of regulated professions have resulted in changes to professional regulation in many sectors and more government oversight.

    - For many aspects of professional governance, the duty and responsibilities of professional regulators does not vary between professions or sectors. Best practices from all sectors can be applied to the PGA context, while taking into account the differences that exist. For example, professions that interact directly with clients, such as health care professions, lawyers, and accountants may have more complaints stemming from those direct interactions, whereas professions that work in the built and natural resource sector may have more complaints stemming from impact of the professionals’ products and services The PGA allows for these differences to be taken into account.

  • 17. Is the new PG model being developed to address the new world of climate change and biodiversity loss? How is it going to help mobilize resource professionals to address these massive challenges?

    - The PGA includes the requirement of regulatory bodies to include an ethical principle to hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public, including the protection of the environment and the promotion of health and safety in the workplace. In addition, best practices in professional governance include a responsibility of regulatory bodies to promote or enhance the ability of its registrants to respond and adapt to changes in practice environments, advances in technology, and other emerging issues. A dedicated oversight office within government also enables government to be more aware of changes that may be required to professional governance to help meet existing and future challenges facing the professions.

Governance Oversight and the ABCFP

  • 18. Currently, non-forest professionals are practicing forestry without being held accountable. How will this new direction enforce professional practicing within their scope?

    - The scope of practice for professional forestry is already reserved for registrants of the ABCFP and these rights will be continued under the PGA. Regulatory bodies have a responsibility to guard against the unlawful use of reserved titles and unlawful practices and it is an offence under the PGA to practice in a reserved practice without being a registrant.

  • 19. Specifically, what will the ABCFP stop doing and the OSPG start doing?

    - The OSPG will not assume any function currently held by the ABCFP. The purpose of the PGA and OSPG is to ensure best practices in professional governance, compliance with the PGA and regulatory consistency, and oversight across all professional organizations. The OSPG intervenes where there are systemic concerns, but does not investigate individual cases or registrants.

  • 20. It seems that on the ground, outcomes will not change with these changes. Would a better way to meet public interest be to explain what the ABCFP and the Foresters Act is and what we do?

    - The PGA was developed in response to gaps identified in the governance and oversight of regulatory bodies. It modernizes professional governance; strengthening and standardizing regulatory functions common to all professional regulators. Greater collaboration between regulatory bodies has already emerged as a benefit of bringing them together under an umbrella statute. The PGA also provides new tools to regulatory bodies, such as regulation of firms, and to the OSPG, including the ability to issue guidelines and directives. The Foresters Act will be repealed once the majority of the implementation work on the PGA is complete and forest professionals are brought fully under the PGA, which is anticipated for the late Fall 2020.

  • 21. Currently, the ABCFP acts as an organization that helps bring its members together with some key stewardship and educational efforts. Will this change under this new framework?

    - One of the trends in professional governance reflected in the PGA is to affirm the regulatory body’s role as a regulator acting in the public interest, and move away from activities where they may be perceived as or actually acting in members’ interests. Regulatory bodies can still play a role in educational efforts, and indeed, will require (or continue to require as the case may be) continuing education programs for their registrants. However, some activities which bring registrants together will need to be evaluated by regulatory bodies within the context of their core duty and responsibilities.

  • 22. Will there be a Foresters Regulation?

    - Regulations are being developed that will be applicable to all regulatory bodies. In some cases, OSPG may propose profession-specific provisions, such as timing for councillor term staggering and profession-specific practice rights. These provisions will likely be distributed across regulations, rather than concentrated in one forest professional-specific regulation.

Effects on Professionals

  • 23. How does the PGA affect professional practice?

    - The PGA has implications for the regulatory bodies in a number of key areas. Interactions between regulatory bodies and individual registrants will mainly continue as before. However, registrants may see new or different standards related to professionalism, including updated codes of ethics, mandatory continuing education programs, declaration requirements, and an expanded duty to report. They may also see changes to discipline processes.

    - The granting of practice rights through regulation may result in individuals being required to register with a regulatory body to carry out certain professional work.

  • 24. With mandatory continuing education, will professionals bound under this Act now be required to obtain a determined number of continuing education units annually for their professional certifications?

    - The PGA requires regulatory bodies to have bylaws that establish continuing education programs or requirements for registrants, including continuing education requirements that support reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. How regulatory bodies design these programs and monitor registrants against the requirements is up to them.

  • 25. Will we have to pay additional dues to the regulatory body?

    - The determination of annual dues and other fees are the sole responsibility of each regulatory body.

  • 26. Who will decide if a registrant can practice forestry or not when their practices are being reviewed?

    - Evaluation of the competence of applicants and registrants will remain the responsibility of the applicable regulatory body. A statutory audit and practice review committee may authorize a practice review of a registrant in accordance with the PGA and the regulatory body’s bylaws.

Code of Ethics

  • 27. Who will be responsible for developing the Code of Ethics? How will it be updated?

    - The PGA includes 12 ethical principles in s. 57(2) that must be included in a regulatory body’s code of ethics. Regulatory bodies have been working with OSPG on updating their codes to be reflective of these principles and may include additional items relevant to their professions.


  • 28. The ABCFP’s stewardship advocacy mandate in the Foresters Act was changed in December. What crisis is government trying to stop from happening by changing this in the Foresters Act?

    - The PGA includes a requirement in s. 22 (3) that a regulatory body may only act in an advocacy role in accordance with the PGA. The move to limit advocacy follows best practices of focusing a regulatory body on its role in protecting the public interest and restricting activities that may be perceived as or may actually benefit registrants’ interests over the public interest. The change to the Foresters Act was a first step in moving towards this framework.

  • 29. Our advocacy mandate is removed but we can still uphold the principles of good forest stewardship. What does this look like to you?

    - Good forest stewardship will continue to be reflected in the policies, guidance, and practices of the ABCFP. The PGA requires that advocacy by regulatory bodies only be carried out where it supports the public interest and aligns with the duty and responsibilities mandated for regulatory bodies in s. 22. The OSPG is providing guidance for regulatory bodies to help them better assess and document the appropriateness of the activities they undertake. Within this framework, ABCFP will determine what upholding the principles of good forest stewardship may look like.

  • 30. Advocacy. This is our biggest voice as professional foresters. We heard yesterday that government is dropping professionals, relying on PR. Who informs government then? Industry?

    - The regulatory body is an expert in the legislative, bylaw, and standards of practice frameworks that its professions work in, and in the governance of its professionals. It may speak in its role as a regulator of the profession, not as a voice for the profession. The expertise of forest professionals in BC is important to inform forestry policy through appropriate channels that do not include a regulatory body speaking on behalf of its registrants — who have varied and different perspectives.

  • 31. What room is left for regulators to advocate for improved practices under the PGA regime?

    - A regulatory body may speak in its role as a regulator, but should avoid speaking on behalf of those they regulate. Regulatory bodies may raise ideas and concerns with the OSPG about their role at any time. The Professional Governance Advisory Committee has been established as a requirement under the PGA and will be an additional forum for regulatory bodies to discuss regulation of their professions with government. Some regulatory bodies have long-established relationships with government to collaborate on professional practice related materials, and that may continue.

Firm Regulation

  • 32. How do government and government bodies fit into the regulation of firms?

    - Firms may include provincial government entities (i.e. FLNRORD Engineering Department) if they are included as government registrants through regulation. OSPG is currently engaging provincial government entities regarding which ones may be included as firms.

    - Municipal governments are already included in the definition of firm and will be covered by firm regulation. OSPG is also currently engaging with municipal governments on this topic.

    - OSPG is working with Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC) on details of firm regulation and intends to authorize EGBC to regulate firms by June 2021. Regulated professional firms will adhere to the same core principles as individual professionals: Quality Management, Code of Ethics, and Continuing Professional Education as laid out in a Professional Practice Management Plan for each firm. Other regulatory bodies may regulate firms later, based on EGBC experience and their capacity to do so.

  • 33. What happens when you find out that the biggest party that is non-compliant is the provincial government? Can your office confront its own employer?

    - Professionals in government have been and will be continue to be regulated by the regulatory bodies.

    - Each registrant of a profession is still obligated to act according to the rules of the profession. If there is evidence that anyone governed by the regulatory bodies under the PGA is non-compliant, that needs to be raised with the appropriate regulatory body. The regulatory body acts independently.

    - The OSPG does not exist to govern the registrants, but rather to ensure that the regulatory bodies govern registrants in the public interest. The Superintendent is also an independent statutory decision-maker.

    - Certain government agencies may be registered as firms in the future under the PGA and would also be regulated by the regulatory bodies.

  • 34. Have the administrative redundancies/burden involving sole proprietors, in regard to rationale reporting, been addressed?

    - EGBC intends to implement measures to address sole practitioner concerns in regards to the additional administrative and financial burden. These measures include targeted training, templates, and a discounted annual fee.

Councils and Committees

  • 35. How will bringing public members into the ABCFP Council ensure that these persons do not bring their own self-interest (e.g. anti-forestry) into this role?

    - Lay councillors play an important role in bringing outside perspectives to the governance of a regulatory body. Lay councillors are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council after a merit-based recruitment process involving the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG), the Crown Agencies and Board Resourcing Office (CABRO), and each regulatory body. Lay councillors, as well as registrant councillors, must perform and uphold their duties and functions with objectivity and honesty, and act ethically.

  • 36. How will you ensure there are enough lay members, and who will be finding the lay persons?

    - OSPG has developed a recruitment strategy to support advertisement of opportunities. OSPG, CABRO, and regulatory bodies will all have a role to play to support the recruitment of lay members.

  • 37. Are you concerned about Indigenous representation within the councils and committees?

    - To support strong councils and committees that reflect the diversity of our province, women, visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (LGBTQ2S+), and others who may contribute to diversity in council appointments and committee work are encouraged to put their names forward for councillor and committee member appointments. Both registrant and lay position vacancy advertisements will be designed to attract a qualified and diverse field of suitable candidates.

  • 38. You said bylaws will be adopted by councils. How much say will councils have in those bylaws?

    - While the bylaw making requirements and authority for councils is laid out in the PGA, the development of bylaws and council adoption is up to regulatory bodies. OSPG may provide guidance or reviews of bylaws at key stages with the intent that when bylaws are submitted for filing, the bylaw content will be allowable under the PGA and will come into force after the required time period has passed. Bylaw making authority cannot be delegated by council to committees or officers and registrant resolutions cannot make, amend, or repeal bylaws.

Competency and Conflict of Interest

  • 39. How will you be evaluating member competency?

    - It is the responsibility of each regulatory body to establish and promote standards of competence for registrants. Regulatory bodies may employ methods to ensure registrant competency through firm regulation, audit and practice review programs, and continuing education programs.

    - Each regulatory body is responsible for establishing and maintaining a continuing competency program to promote high practice standards.

  • 40. When it comes to competence statements, what would a competence declaration look like? Would it be updated annually, or for each individual project?

    - OSPG does not intend to bring requirements for declarations of competency into force with the majority of the PGA in Fall 2020 and is committed to ensuring any requirements that are subsequently put in place are practical. OSPG is working with regulatory bodies on ways to meet the competence declaration intent through their register requirements and will work with government and industry to determine where project-specific declarations add value for future implementation.

  • 41. The PGA and Office are probably sufficient to reassure the public and protect public interest. Are individual declarations of no conflict of interest really necessary?

    - Similar to declarations of competency, the OSPG does not intend to bring the declarations of conflict of interest into force with the majority of the PGA in Fall 2020 and is committed to ensuring any requirements that are subsequently put in place are practical. OSPG is working with regulatory bodies on ways to meet the conflict of interest declaration intent through firm regulation requirements and will work with government and industry to determine where project-specific declarations add value for future implementation.

Complaints and Duty to Report

  • 42. Duty to Report - what are your plans for this?

    - The PGA stipulates that if a registrant has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a particular registrant is engaged in a regulated practice in a way that poses a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public, the registrant must promptly report this to the registrar.

    - OSPG will provide guidance to regulatory bodies and registrants that will help all parties understand and respond to this duty appropriately.

  • 43. If there is a stronger duty to report, will there be a stronger duty to act from the association?

    - Reports made in compliance with the duty to report will be handled by regulatory bodies as complaints.

    - OSPG will provide guidance to regulatory bodies and registrants that will help all parties understand and respond to this duty appropriately.

    - Regulatory bodies are expected to prioritize cases to protect the public interest and take appropriate action within their complaints and discipline process.

  • 44. How will this new act protect professionals from being reprimanded by government and companies for reporting poor practice?

    - In addition to criteria for complaints that may be made, the PGA has a mandatory duty to report a registrant’s practice where there is a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health and safety of the public or a group of people.

    - The PGA also requires that no reprisals be made against someone who has reported a matter under the mandatory duty or who makes a complaint. The PGA provides authority for the OSPG to enforce reprisal provisions should it become aware of reprisal activity taking place.

  • 45. Will there be a channel to fund legal representation and consultation for members facing disciplinary action?

    - The OSPG does not provide funding for registrants facing disciplinary action, nor does the OSPG get involved in individual cases.

Categories of Registrants

  • 46. Will the PGA be looking to introduce employer classes of registration that will treat professionals who work in industry differently versus those who work in government?

    - The PGA provides authority to regulatory bodies to establish different categories and subcategories of registrants and determine the rights and privileges for each category and subcategory. The authority does not contemplate categories based on a professional’s place of work, though this information may be collected by regulatory bodies and considered in audit and practice review programs.

First Nations

  • 47. Where does the Indigenous interest priority fall within the PGA?

    - The Superintendent has a duty to promote awareness among the regulatory bodies to support reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. The Superintendent will do this by supporting implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

    - The PGA requires regulatory bodies to make bylaws that establish education programs for their professionals to support informed engagement and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

  • 48. What does the implementation of DRIPA look like to the Professional Governance Act?

    - The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Act (DRIPA) sets out a process to align BC’s laws with the UN Declaration. It mandates government to bring provincial laws into harmony with the UN Declaration. OSPG will work with government to communicate changes to provincial laws that may impact registrants.

    - PGA development considered the perspectives and experiences of Indigenous Peoples, which resulted, for example, in a mandatory requirement for regulatory bodies to have continuing education programs for their professionals to support informed engagement and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Professional Reliance Review