Professional Reliance Review

Thursday morning, UBCM delegates were given an update on a recent independent assessment of public confidence in qualified professionals (QP’s) working in the natural resource sector. The Professional Reliance Review resulted in 121 recommendations to improve the professional, technical and ethical standards that are applied to private sector QP’s and their self-governing professional organizations.

Government relies on these QP’s and their oversight bodies to manage natural resources throughout the province. The recommendations from the review will have a substantial impact on the legislation and statutes that govern natural resource management in the province.  In fact, 87 of the 121 recommendations propose changes to 9 regulatory regimes that pertain to natural resource management; these include the Forest Range and Practices Act and the Water Sustainability Act

It was noted by many delegates that public trust in the forestry and hydrology sectors has declined over the past decade. Session participants noted that it is difficult to ensure proper deployment of qualified professionals and to ensure that opinions and reports provided by QP’s are made with local interests in mind.

Delegates also cited concerns lacking confidence in the disciplinary process of workers. Representatives from the Province noted that the goal of the review was to provide recommendations that aim to increase public trust in natural resource decisions and operations by increasing transparency of regulators and establishing greater certainty for industry.

The Province has committed to action two report recommendations in the short-term. The first will be to introduce legislation this fall that will regulate qualified professionals. The second will establish an independent office of professional regulation and oversight to enforce the act. The meta-regulators role would be ensuring that oversight bodies for qualified professionals including forest professionals, engineers and geoscientists, agrologists, biologists and technicians are held to a higher standard; in essence it is a regulator of current regulators.

The review included a public engagement, which received over 2,200 feedback forms from the public, 102 stakeholder submissions and over 1,800 surveys from qualified professionals.

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