Qualified professional legislation to restore public trust in natural-resource decision-making

George Heyman

THE B.C. government has introduced legislation aimed at making sure decisions affecting the province’s natural resources are science-based, transparent and protect B.C.’s unique environment for future generations.

The Professional Governance Act will, if passed, modernize and strengthen the roles and expectations of qualified professionals in the province, in turn providing greater, science-based public oversight of how B.C.’s natural resources are managed.

It will also establish an office of the superintendent of professional governance to ensure consistency and best practices are applied in the work of qualified professionals moving forward.

“This legislation is about making sure we live up to our responsibilities to British Columbians in protecting our natural heritage for our kids and grandkids,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “British Columbians are rightly proud of our natural resources and environment – they represent who we are and where we’ve come from. This legislation recognizes that legacy and symbolizes a recommitment to putting the public interest first when it comes to managing our natural resources.”

“These changes will help strengthen public trust that the health and safety of their communities always comes first,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “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.”

The legislation and the establishment of the office of the superintendent of professional governance are intended to increase public access to natural resource information and ensure professionals are held to the highest ethical and technical standards. They are being proposed in response to two recommendations included in the final report of the Professional Reliance Review, submitted in June 2018 following a full public engagement process.

The remainder of the report and recommendations focus on natural resource regulatory regimes. Government is acting on many of these recommendations as part of broader goals and mandate commitments for natural resource management, including strengthening results-based laws, building government capacity for compliance and enforcement, modernizing land-use planning and building partnerships with Indigenous peoples for resource management. Other recommendations will be considered by specific ministries over the coming months.

“The changes we’re proposing will help restore public confidence in the professional reliance model and give certainty to resource companies that rely on qualified professionals,” said Heyman.