The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is pleased with the provincial government's introduction today of the Professional Governance Act aimed at improving B.C.'s professional reliance system in the natural resource sector. If passed, the new legislation will lay the foundation for a series of much-needed changes to better protect and manage the province's natural resources for generations to come.
The legislation will implement two of the 121 recommendations made in the June 2018 Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance following an eight-month review process led by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. This includes greater public oversight over how B.C.'s natural resources are managed, and the establishment of the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance to ensure best practices moving forward.
"The final report released in June clearly identified the problems with professional reliance and provided concrete recommendations to make the system work better for everyone," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "While today's legislation would only directly address the first two recommendations in the report, this is an encouraging first step towards government reclaiming its leadership role in resource and environmental stewardship. I look forward to seeing continued progress."
The professional reliance model was adopted by the former B.C. Liberal government as part of a dramatic plan to reduce "red tape" and weaken environmental and health protection laws. B.C.'s civil service – the professionals responsible for stewarding B.C.'s resources and natural environment – was slashed by over 25 per cent. Qualified professionals, hired by industry, assumed greater responsibility for decision-making and oversight of projects, often at the expense of the public interest and the environment.
The full set of recommendations in the Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance also included 32 sweeping recommendations to strengthen natural resource regulatory regimes including improving laws, regulations, Indigenous engagement and improve information as well as 87 recommendations specific to environmental reform.
The day-to-day work of thousands of BCGEU members is shaped by this regulatory model, and many members have raised the alarm about its shortcomings. As part of the public consultation process during the professional reliance review, the BCGEU made a submission to government bringing forward member concerns which is available here.
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