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B.C. Professional Governance Act does not go far enough, says ABCFP

Oct. 22, 2018 – The B.C. government’s proposed new legislation standardizing governance of all natural resource professionals is a missed opportunity that will not address real issues of public concern around forest management, says the CEO of the Association of B.C. Forest Professionals (ABCFP), the regulatory body for B.C.’s 5,400 forest professionals.


October 23, 2018
By Association of B.C. Forest Professionals

“The introduction of the Professional Governance Act and creation of the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance will change how professionals are governed but does nothing to change policies regulating how the environment and land base are managed,” said Christine Gelowitz, RPF and ABCFP CEO.

“The ABCFP agrees that forest management can be improved. Repeatedly, through our submission to the government’s stakeholder process and during meetings with government officials, we stressed the need for government to clearly define values, clarify desired results, set objectives and values, and establish a hierarchy for objectives on the landscape. Without those tools, forest professionals are left trying to balance numerous competing and varied expectations by disparate groups with differing values and competing interests on the land.”

The proposed new legislation is the end result of government’s review of professional reliance in the natural resource sector, announced in Oct. 2017. The review was also part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the NDP and Green Party. The professional reliance system, in relation to forest management, was designed to allow both government and industry forest professionals to focus on the on-the-ground results as well as environmental and resource protection, rather than on process and paperwork.

The government review of professional reliance included audits of five professional regulators (ABCFP, B.C. Institute of Agrologists, College of Applied Biology, Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C., and Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C.), which found no problems with the operation of any of the professional regulators.

The review also included a collection of surveys and submissions from qualified professionals, stakeholders, and the public via the government’s Engage B.C. website. The ABCFP submitted a report to government containing 18 recommendations to improve forest management and the professional reliance model as part of this process, including multiple recommendations to improve its own operation that the ABCFP committed to implementing regardless of the outcome of the review.

A final report on professional reliance, containing 121 recommendations, was released by the government in June of this year. The legislation tabled Oct. 22 addresses only Recommendations 1 and 2, both of which focus on standardizing governance of the five professional regulators.

“We want to work with the government to make real, sustained improvements in B.C.’s forest management practices and the professional reliance regime. But that has to start with realizing professional reliance is an active partnership between government, industry, and the profession,” Gelowitz said.

“With a third of B.C.’s forest professionals working for government, this is not a question of government versus industry. For professional reliance to work, government must fully accept its responsibilities especially in areas of monitoring, research, compliance and enforcement, commit to using professionals, and provide forest professionals with the necessary tools and policy guidance to make use of their expertise.”