PGA Webinar

Frequently Asked Questions

As per the PGA, a firm refers to a legal entity or combination of legal entities engaged in providing services in respect of a regulated practice. Firms may be small, specialized organisations or larger, multidisciplinary organisations. The regulation of firms pertains to the regulated practice of a profession and is not linked to reserved practice.

-- OSPG staff

The College is monitoring the work EGBC is doing regarding the regulation of firms. The priority right now for applied biologists is establishing reserved practice. Any iniative on firm regulation will be done in consultation with registrants, the firms that employ registrants and the general public.

Currently only Engineers and Geoscientists BC has been granted authority to regulate firms that provide engineering and geoscience services. The College may seek to regulate firms in the future, building upon the experience and lessons learned from EGBC. How multi-disciplinary firms may be regulated in the future is an important policy area that requires further development.

In those instances where a multidisciplinary firm employs professional biologists and engineers, EGBC will only be concerned with the oversight of engineering professionals.

-- OSPG staff

The Professional Governance Act (PGA) gives authority to all regulators under the Act – including the College – to regulate firms, however at this point only Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC) is moving forward starting on July 1, 2021. The other regulators are three to five years away from developing a similar program. Before the CAB moves forward with any firm regulation program we will engage with registrants and the public.

As per the Applied Biologist Regulation the following titles and their acronyms (RPBio, RBTech, ABT, etc.) are reserved and must not be used by anyone who is not registered and permitted by the College to use that title.

From the Professional Governance Act:

"For the purposes of section 51 (1) (a) [reserved titles] of the Act, the following titles are reserved for the exclusive use of registrants:

  1. “professional biologist”;
  2. “biologist in training”;
  3. “registered biology technologist”;
  4. “registered biology technologist in training”;
  5. “applied biology technician”;
  6. “applied biology technician in training”."

Registration with the College is not meant to compete with traditional ecological knowledge and expertise held by Indigenous people – but to compliment that knowledge. CAB welcomes the opportunity to work with First Nations and others to identify areas of collaboration and possible training opportunities.

Section 55 of the Professional Governance Act provides a pathway for reconciling any overlaps in reserved practices between two or more regulatory bodies under the PGA. By specifying the same area of practice in the professional regulation for each regulatory body granted that particular area of reserved practice, registrants of each specified regulatory body are permitted to practice in that area of reserved practice.

For example, the professional regulation for Engineers and Geoscientists BC identifies reserved practice in the area of “forest engineering” while the professional regulation for the Association of BC Forest Professionals identifies reserved practice in the area of “forest transportation systems”. This structure provides that registrants of both regulatory bodies may practice in the area of forest roads and crossings.

Any overlapping areas of practice identified in regulation may be further supported by practice guidelines jointly developed by multiple regulators. For example, the Professional Practice Guidelines – Legislated Riparian Area Assessments in British Columbia were prepared jointly by the College and other regulators to support professionals doing work under the then-current Riparian Areas Regulation.

The College is currently working with OSPG to develop and define a path forward towards reserved practice. Once reserved practice is established, anyone practising within the defined scope will be required to register with the College.

-- OSPG staff

The PGA enables a regulatory body to regulate firms when that regulatory body has been authorized through regulation and has developed the necessary bylaws to do so. Regulated firms must become registrants of the regulatory bodies and like individual registrants, must comply with the requirements of the PGA, subsequent regulations, and the bylaws of the regulatory bodies. Regulatory bodies can enforce requirements on their registrants.

-- OSPG staff

As per Part 5, Division 3 section 5-3(1)(c) of the College bylaws, retired registrants are “non-practicing” and must not provide professional opinions. This is not a change from the College of Applied Biology Act and Rules that were in effect until February 5, 2021.

Implementation of the Professional Governance Act has no impact on trade agreements between provinces. Registrants already accepted through the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) will remain registrants of the College.

Professional self-regulation is in provincial jurisdiction. Any registrant working outside of BC where registration is required (such as Alberta) should be registered with that provincial regulator. If you live out of province and work in BC you should be registered with the College. Furthermore, the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct still applies whether someone is working in the province or not.

OSPG is able to accommodate requests for engagement. Interested parties should send an email to [email protected]. OSPG will continue to host PGA webinars in spring 2021. Dates for these webinars as well as recorded webinars will be posted on the website at https://professionalgovernancebc.ca/.

-- OSPG staff

The Applied Biology Technician (ABT) designation is ideal for certification through an approved training program. As well, accumulated training and/or work experience can be used for the applied biology technician category. CAB welcomes the opportunity to work with First Nations and others to identify areas of collaboration and possible training opportunities.

CAB has three (3) different professional designations – Registered Professional Biologist (RPBio), Registered Biology Technologist (RBTech) and Applied Biology Technician (ABT) that have distinct credentialing standards. Specifically for RPBios CAB has developed four pathways two of which are specifically designed for people with multiple years of experience.

The ABT category does have a pathway for ‘experience only’ for individuals with no formal education background.

The College has an accreditation program that reviews the courses in program areas and provides accreditation for those programs that meet the academic entrance requirements. As well, the Registrar regularly makes presentations to undergraduate students at universities to review the academic requirements for entry. Many universities have made changes to their programing that align with the College's entrance requirements. However some institutions are still working on programing changes to ensure alignment with the Credentialing Standard.

The Professional Governance Act section 58 requires registrants to report the practice of an identified registrant when there is reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the identified registrant’s practice may pose a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health and safety of the public or group of people. This reporting duty extends to an employer or partner of an identified registrant when employment or partnerships are impacted because of the risk of harm from the identified registrant’s practice.

For clarity, the s. 58 duty to report is not meant to require registrants to raise concerns to regulatory bodies about risk of significant harm arising from government policies or authorization decisions a registrant may be operating under. There are other mechanisms for registrants and others to bring these types of concerns to the authority having jurisdiction.

Regulatory bodies must treat a report under s.58 as a complaint to the regulatory body by:

  • Following the general complaint process
  • Ensuring there is a process to triage and prioritise given the potential risk of significant harm to the environment or health and safety of the public (as appropriate, may draw upon the extraordinary measures to protect the public).
  • Considering whether another authority having jurisdiction should be notified.
  • Notifying other authorities if appropriate.

-- OSPG staff

Each regulatory body that may regulate firms will determine an approach to regulating firms of various sizes. Currently only EGBC is authorized to regulate firms and their program will accommodate companies of different sizes. There will be specific attention and tailoring provided for sole proprietors, and how to address differences and the unique needs of different organisations.

For more information on the EGBC firm regulation program, please visit their website here.

-- OSPG staff