Professional Reliance Review – HAVE YOUR SAY
The government has initiated a review of the professional reliance model in the natural resource sector. The day-to-day work of thousands of BCGEU members is shaped by this regulatory model, and many of our members have raised the alarm about its shortcomings.
In its present form, the professional reliance model effectively lets the "fox guard the henhouse," leading in some cases to the mismanagement of our resources and harm to the environment. Combined with deep staff and funding cuts to the responsible ministries and agencies, strong public oversight of our lands has been seriously eroded.
This review is an important opportunity to fix how the provincial government oversees industry's activities on the land base in B.C. so that the environment and the public interest are better protected. Environmental lawyer Mark Haddock was appointed to conduct the review, and his report and recommendations are due this spring (May 2018).
BCGEU's Submission: Share Your Story
The union is gathering stories from frontline workers like you to produce a submission to the review that reflects the concerns, priorities and experiences of our members. The most powerful way to convince decision makers about the need for us to share concrete, real-life stories about what is working and what is not.
If you are interested in sharing your experiences of how the professional reliance model operates, please contact our staff researcher, Megan Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-291-9611.
Engage BC Survey
Part of the government's review is an online public survey about professional reliance. The survey is posted here, and it is open for responses from the public until January 19th, 2018. https://engage.gov.bc.ca/professionalreliance/
We strongly encourage you to participate in this survey. The experiences and perspectives of frontline workers are critical to shaping the review's recommendations and outcomes. And a good volume of responses from the public to the survey signals to government that this issue is important to British Columbians.
Help with the survey
The Engage BC survey has nine questions. It includes straightforward demographic questions, as well as two open-ended questions seeking your perspectives on the professional reliance model. Below, we provide a few key points you might consider including in your responses to these questions, and some additional resources on professional reliance in B.C.'s natural resource sector.
Please tell us what you think is working well with the current professional reliance model in B.C., and what is not.
- Many well qualified, experienced and dedicated professionals working in B.C.'s resource sector
- But over the past 15 years, deregulation has gone too far
- Key decisions related to public and environmental safety have been outsourced to professionals employed by industry.
- Deep staff and budget cuts have gutted the government's capacity to monitor and enforce regulations.
- Environmental damage has occurred and public safety has been put at risk as a result (examples include the Mount Polley disaster, Shawnigan Lake contaminated landfill site, unsafe resource roads and bridges identified by the Forest Practices Board)
What changes, if any, are needed to maintain or improve public trust in the professional reliance model?
- Need to rebuild government capacity: more staff and funding are needed in the "dirt ministries" (Forests, Environment, Energy & Mines, Agriculture, Transportation) to rebuild research and scientific capacity, internal expertise, bolster resources for monitoring, compliance and enforcement
- Ensure laws are clear and readily enforceable
- Ensure First Nations are engaged and their rights are respected
- Ensure government staff have the authority to act proactively to protect the environment and the public interest
- Strengthen the government's role in environmental and natural resource management- bring decision-making and expertise back into government
- Increase transparency and openness
- Ensure there are clearly defined and appropriate roles for professionals and their organizations
Professional Reliance Resources:
UVIC Environmental Law Report: Professional Reliance and Environmental Regulation in British Columbia (2015)
Article on self-regulation from the December 2014 BCGEU Provincial magazine
Professional Reliance Working Group Backgrounder
BCGEU Information Session Powerpoint
Tyee Article on Professional Reliance (Feb.2017)
- BCGEU paper on Compliance and Enforcement in BC Forests (December 2017)
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