Regulated and Reserved Practice

Reserved Practice 2022 FAQ

Preamble

The College has succeeded in its goal of securing reserved practice (practice rights) for Registered Professional Biologists (RPBio) and Registered Biology Technologists (RBTech). Reserved practice came into force on September 1, 2022, as the amended Applied Biologists Regulation was fully enacted.

The granting of reserved practice is the culmination of almost five years of work undertaken by the College of Applied Biologists’ volunteers and staff and a realization of concept that was conceived nearly 40 years ago when applied biology professionals originally founded an association in BC. With reserved practice, applied biology professionals are now recognized as key contributors to the resource management sector and vital members of any professional, multi-disciplinary team.

Throughout the summer of 2022, the College executed outreach according to its 2022 reserved practice outreach plan, including six webinars, in-person events and meetings with stakeholders. Questions raised over the course of these events are summarized in the FAQ below. Use the table of contents to navigate to the section relevant to your inquiry or use the search/find tool (eg. press CTRL+F in Chrome) in your browser if you're looking for something specific.

FAQ Table of Contents


Section 1 -- Reserved Practice

1.1 How is reserved practice defined?

The definition of reserved practice as it applies to regulators under the Professional Governance Act (PGA) means the ability to practice a profession is reserved for registrants of that regulatory body, with the exception of persons who may practice aspects of the profession in accordance with another legislation. Practically speaking, it means that a person must register with a regulatory body and meet all their professional, ethical and competency standards in order to offer their services as a professional when practicing within the defined reserved practice.

1.2 What about "practice rights"?

The terms “practice rights” and “right to practice” have the same meaning as reserved practice, but reserved practice is the terminology that is used in the Act.

1.3 Do other professions have reserved practice?

Yes, any profession that requires a license of in order to practice – such as a doctor or a lawyer – has reserved practice. Under the Professional Governance Act, foresters, engineers and geoscientists have reserved practice; reserved practice was in their previous statutes and was maintained under the PGA. Professional agrologists also have reserved practice added to their regulation at the same time as applied biology professionals. Additionally, the Architectural Institute of BC will be coming under the PGA some time in 2022; their registrants have reserved practice under their current statute and this will also be maintained when they come under the PGA.

1.4 How is reserved practice different from what applied biology professionals had previously?

Under the College of Applied Biology Act, applied biology professionals were granted what are called title rights, which reserves several professional titles for the exclusive use of professionals that are registered with the College. These titles include Professional Biologist, Registered Biology Technologist, etc. No individual may present themselves with any of these titles without infringing on the title rights of applied biology professionals. As above, with reserved practice, it is an infringement not only for an individual to present themselves as a professional biologist without being registered with the College, it will be an infringement to practice applied biology as defined in the reserved practice section of the Applied Biologists Regulation without being registered with the College.

1.5 Is the legal definition of Reserved Practice of applied biology still draft wording or is it final?

The reserved practice definition in the regulation has been passed by Cabinet and is in effect as of September 1, 2022.

1.6 Is habitat defined within the context of reserved practice -- while biologists may know what this means, there may be room for others to confuse the term?

The College will continue to work with its regulatory partners to develop scenarios that help explain our respective reserved practices and clarify terminology. This will take time.

1.7 Will there be a defined list of reserved discipline areas or will the broad definition in the regulation be used?

There will not be a list. The College will continue to work with its regulatory partners to develop scenarios that help clarify our respective reserved practices.

1.8 Will there be a specific or limited number of Practice Areas that a registrant can select?

The College will be reviewing and revising its practice areas. Once that work is done there will be more information and engagement on practice areas.

1.9 What are some examples of a Regulated Practice that would fall outside of the Reserved Practice definition? 

Regulated practice can include activities such as, terrestrial ecosystem mapping, water sampling, environmental monitoring and biological data collection (e.g., surveying, inventorying). The design, analysis and recommendations that fall within the defined biology objective would be reserved practice. Regulated practice also includes activities ancillary to the practice of applied biology such as, review of environment permit applications, record management, policy development, and public presentations. Please note that these are examples and are not a comprehensive list of regulated practice activities.

1.10 Do the requirements of the PGA including reserved practice apply to the federal government's involvement in the practice of biology in BC?

The College is proceeding on the premise that the reserved practice definition applies to anyone who is practicing within the definition of the reserved practice definition in the regulation . We will be engaging further with the federal government to determine how it will be implemented and if there are any exceptions.

1.11 What about assessing effects from contaminants unrelated to contaminated sites -- Is that included in reserved scope (eg. conducting a risk assessment for impacts from contaminants for a proposed future mine)?

If the purpose of the assessment falls within the definition of the “biology objective” in the regulation1 it would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals. However, other professions also conduct risk assessments for impacts outside the biology objective such as, impacts on human health, livestock, etc., and that would not be within the defined reserved practice of applied biology.

1.12 Would conservation planning or policy, parks management planning, or environmental assessment administration (e.g. by the EAO) be under reserved practice?

If the purpose of the activity falls within the definition of the “biology objective” in the regulation the College’s position is that it would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals. However, other professions also may be engaged in the above activities outside the biology objective and that would not be within the reserved practice of applied biology.

1.13 What is the difference between data analysis and interpretive analysis for chart showing different abilities (for RPBio RBTech, etc.)?

The College defines:

  • Data Analysis as the study and/or examination of data applying logical techniques to describe and illustrate, condense and recap, and evaluate data; and 
  • Interpretive Analysis as analysis of conservation methods, protection methods, or management objectives outside of accepted standards, protocols or guidelines

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Section 2 -- Outreach

2.1 Are you able to expand on the engagement plan for major industries in the province that might hire biologists for roles on major projects?
2.2 How is the College planning to reach the industry sector to inform them of the new changes and upcoming requirements for consultants?
2.3 Is the College looking to notify local governments (including mayor and councils, senior managers) about changes regarding their responsibilities as employers of College registrants?
2.4 I know numerous small contractors out there not registered under CAB. How will they be aware of these changes?
2.5 How will you reach out the industries (mining, powerline sectors etc.) to inform them of the changes?

The College has been actively engaging partners – including private, public and not for profit employers - over the past 4 years through various platforms and media to educate them on the implementation of reserved practice for applied biology professionals in British Columbia. We have seen positive feedback and results, however given that British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in the world to convey reserved practice (or practice rights) to applied biologists this work will be ongoing. The College’s Compliance Plan further illustrates how the College will be proceeding.

2.6 Can you clarify how reserved practice will affect those in academia?

Most activities within academia would fall outside of the reserved practice. If activities fall under the biology objective, then the individual would be required to be a registrant.

2.7 Is there a plan for outreach to universities, both for students and professors?

The College has for many years engaged in outreach with students, faculty and staff at academic institutions and will continue to do so. For the last 3 years outreach has provided information on the Professional Governance Act, the Applied Biologists Regulation including regulated and reserved practice in addition to registrant categories, requirements and streams of entrance and registrant obligations such as, adhered to the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, continuing professional development and audit programs.

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Section 3 -- Regulation of firms

3.1 Will there be a requirement to identify a Responsible Registrant for each discipline area as is the approach used by Engineers and Geoscientists BC?
3.2 For an engineering firm with an environmental services group, do we (as a firm) need to apply for a permit to practice number? (again as per EGBC), will we have a separate number or use the EGBC number?
3.3 What is the timing for firm registration, if required?
3.4 When is the Regulated Firm aspect of the PGA expected to be rolled out??

Currently Engineers and Geoscientists of BC are the only regulator who regulates firms. (The Architects Institute of British Columbia will be the other regulator once they are brought under the Professional Governance Act.) The College continues to sit on the Advisory Committee on Firm Regulation with all our regulatory partners to monitor and advise on EGBC’s initiative. A key principle of this committee is to ensure that there is a streamlined and consistent approach to regulating firms.

At this time the College’s primary objective is the successful implementation of the Professional Governance Act, and most importantly reserved practice. We estimate it being at least five (5) years before starting to develop what firm regulation may look like for the College. This work will be done in collaboration with regulatory partners and firms.

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Section 4 -- Areas of overlap

4.1 Are applied biology professionals able to continue the agrology-related work (e.g., erosion and sediment control, land reclamation/remediation, soil classification/sampling, vegetation management, etc.) that they are experienced to do without the supervision of a P.Ag., or other PGA regulated professional (RPBio, RBTech, etc.)?

The “practice of applied biology” or regulated practice is defined in the regulation1. There are overlapping activities in the regulated practice between professions. Examples may include those activities mentioned above. If the purpose of the activity falls within the definition of the “biology objective” in the regulation1 it would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals. However, if the activity falls within the reserved practice of another profession it must be done under the supervision of a registrant of that regulatory body. 

However, Section 55 of the Professional Governance Act allows for exceptions in other provincial legislation. Examples include that Contaminated Sites Regulation through its Contaminated Sites Approved Professionals and the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation which lists multiple professional designations as being qualified.

4.2 What about environmental engineering with respect to developing, implementing and managing environmental management programs within marine, fresh water and land based environments -- would this be a reserved practice of an applied biology professional?

If the purpose of the activity falls within the definition of the “biology objective” in the regulation it would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals. However, other professions also may be engaged in the above activities outside the biology objective and that would not be within the reserved practice of applied biology.

The College has developed and signed collaboration agreements with some of our regulatory partners and are working on ones with others. Under these agreements we will continue to work with our regulatory partners to develop scenarios that help explain our respective regulatory practices overlap and what our respective reserved practices align, intersect and possibly overlap. This will take time and input from applied biology professionals. Opportunities for registrants to contribute to these conversations will be advertised through College Connections and College Notices.

4.3 Can you clarify reserved practice with regards to water quality sampling: does water quality sampling (either surface or groundwater) for long term monitoring programs fall under the reserved practice in the Applied Biologists Regulation and would an RPBio or RBTech be required to carry out or supervise this task when the Practice Rights come into force?

Water sampling is a good example of regulated practice. However,  if the data is used for a purpose defined in the biology objective of the regulation it would fall within the reserved practice definition of applied biology. However, the actual physical water sampling and data collection does not fall under reserved practice. 

4.4 Does erosion and sediment control design/monitoring fall under Regulated Practice?

Yes, any aspect of erosion and sediment control that an applied biology professional performs is regulated. Certain aspects of erosion and sediment control would fall within the definition of the “biology objective” in the regulation that would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals.

4.5 Where does the environmental scientist designation/profession and education fall with biology work when accredited as a PAg versus a RPBio?

If the purpose of the activity falls within the definition of the biology objective it would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals.

4.6 Can a RPBio work in the geomorphology field when making habitat restoration plans for instream works or will others be needed to make those recommendations?

If the activity falls within the definition of the “biology objective” the College’s position is that it would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals. However, if the activity falls within the reserved practice of another profession it must be done under the supervision of a registrant of that regulatory body. There are also overlapping activities in regulated practice between professions. If certain activities fall under the reserved practice of another profession, then applied biology professionals should consult with individuals registered with the appropriate regulatory body.

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Section 5 -- Relationship with Indigenous Knowledge

5.1 In working with Indigenous partners they may provide advice based on Traditional Knowledge that informs biology objectives, how does Traditional Knowledge relate in the context of Reserved Practice?
5.2 Has there been discussion on cultural or Indigenous methodologies being applied that have objectives in areas of conservation and restoration?
5.3 Will communities still be required to consult an applied biology professional on those practices on their Traditional lands?
5.4 Will non-Indigenous personnel employed by an Indigenous government be required to be a registrant with the CAB if practicing applied biology or providing recommendations on Indigenous sovereign territory?
5.5 In the case of making a report summarizing a survey design, results, discussion and/or recommendations, would the document then need to be signed by an applied biology professional if the report is for species inventory and providing recommendations to an Indigenous Nation?
5.6 Often Indigenous partners provide information or assessment that informs biological objectives; this information may come from an Elder, a Traditional Ecological Knowledge Keeper, etc. -- what is the intersection between Indigenous Science/Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Reserved Practice?

The College of Applied Biologists recognizes and respects that Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and professional applied biology are complementary practices in managing and protecting natural resources. Section 55.1 of the Professional Governance Act states that reserved practice does not apply to a person exercising the rights of an Indigenous people which includes Indigenous Knowledge.

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Section 6 -- Subcontracting/consulting

6.1 How we can address consultants submitting reports on areas of practice who are not qualified to do so?

If the consultant is a registrant of the College you should review the Complaints and Discipline page on the College’s website, and if applicable, submit a complaint to the College. 

If the consultant is a registrant of another regulatory under the PGA please inform the College and we will work with our regulatory partner to find solutions.

If the consultant is not a registrant of any regulatory body, and conducting an activity(ies) that falls within the definition of the “biology objective” which is reserved practice please inform the College and we will follow up with the individual.

For more detailed information please see the College’s Compliance Plan.

6.2 When we are working with other professionals outside our firm (sub-consultants) can we assume that they are managing their own requirements under the PGA and Reserved Practice Regulations such that we have no obligation to the College?
6.3 What recourse do College registrants have when they observe other professions working outside of their scope of practice (eg. providing peer review or professional advice relating to the practice of applied biology practice), and how do we deal with situations where applied biology professionals retain non-applied biology professionals to undertake actions that are clearly not within their scope of practice?

As a registrant you are always required to adhere to the College’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. As well you are now bound by Section 58 of the Professional Governance Act which is a statutory duty to report.

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Section 7 -- Oversight/supervision

7.1 How does implementation of reserved practice apply to statutory decision makers?
7.2 Can you confirm that formal technical review of a work product -- if it falls under the Reserved Practice scope -- must be done by RPBio (eg. do regulatory agency staff that conduct technical review habitat offset design require College registration)?

Statutory decision makers are not affected by reserved practice per se, however if some of the information they are using to make a statutory decision is coming from a registered professional they should not change the information that has been provided, their decision however may be based on other factors from other sources.

7.3 Supervision is an important concept in determining if a person needs to be registered. Will there be more guidelines on that?

The College will be providing further guidance to registrants during implementation.

7.4 Will [provincial] regulators be provided with guidance so that they know when they are receiving reports if they are outside of someone's reserved practice?

The College will continue to work with all our partners to successfully implement reserved practice. Scope of Practice for College Registered Professional Biologist (RPBio), Registered Biology Technologist (RBTech) and Applied Biology Technician (ABT) registrants is defined in both the Illustrative documents and Schedule 3 for RBTech and ABT registrants of the College Bylaws.

7.5 Can you confirm that biological field work (e.g., fish sampling under a provincial Fish Collection Permit) can be conducted by persons who are not an RPBio or one of the other designations, as long as they are supervised by an RPBio or RBTech?

Field work can be conducted by persons such as junior biologists, field technicians, naturalists, citizen scientists who are not registered with the College as long as they are deemed competent to do the task, and supervised by an appropriate professional (if applicable), which could include an RBTech, RPBio or AB-LL (Applied Biologist-Limited Licensee)  depending upon the activity.  The supervising professional are professionally responsible for the work being performed. If the information being collected is used for a “biology objective” then an appropriate applied biology professional should oversee the methodology.

7.6 As a regulator who reviews work from many professionals - would there be a requirement for a professional to review documents from other professionals?

Work from other professionals may be reviewed, however that work should not be altered by another professional in any way.

7.7 If people who are competent (e.g., through education and 10+ years of experience) but are not a registered with CAB or another similar organization, are they allowed to conduct data analysis or prepare reports as long as an RPBio or RBTech is accountable and oversees the work?

Yes, if the report includes activities that fall within the definition of the “biology objective” in the regulation which is reserved practice then the registered professional with reserved practice rights, RBTech, RPBio,or AB-LL would be professionally responsible for the work product.

7.8 Is a permit application specific in that only an individual can submit a permit application as it pertains to the definition of reserved practice and some permit applications may not pertain to the reserved practice?

Permit applications fall under the regulated practice definition. The requirements for who can submit and be issued a regulatory permit is determined by the regulatory body and government who has authorization and jurisdiction to issue the permit such as, Federal, First Nation, Provincial and local governments. However, if information that may be contained in the permit that fall into the reserved practice definition should be signed off by the appropriate professional.

7.9 What about professionals that have extensive experience in the practice areas listed under CAB or BCIA, but are not registered professionals -- do they need to be supervised by someone who is registered?

If the activity falls within the definition of the “biology objective” in the regulation the College’s position is that it would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals and must be supervised by a College registrant. If the activity falls within the reserved practice of another profession it must be done under the supervision of a registrant of that regulatory body.

7.10 Can a junior (non-registrant) biologist complete certain field tasks (e.g., bird nest survey) on their own if an RPBio or RBTech deems them to be competent and they are following a standard operating procedure set/developed by the supervising professional or would the junior biologist need to at least have an "in-training" designation?
7.11 What level of involvement by an RPBio would be needed if the junior worker does need to be "supervised"?
7.12 The Illustrative documents mentioned that non-registrants will need to work under a registrant, but can a registrant working off-site and 500km from the project site supervise a non-registrant working on-site -- is there a physical proximity requirement for the registrant?

The College will be providing further guidance to registrants during implementation.

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Section 8 -- Compliance & Enforcement

8.1 Who would enforcement regarding reserved practice fall to?
8.2 I have employees that submitted applications in December that are still pending review, what happens on Sept 1 if they do not have a response back from the College?
8.3 As an employee I have not heard much around Reserved Practice from my employer; I am aware of many employees who are not registered with CAB that appear to do reserved practice -- what should I do?
8.4 How can the College have any enforcement power over individuals who practice within an RPBio's reserved practice but are not registered with any professional body?
8.5 After Sept. 1, 2022 someone who is not RPBio (or RPBio outside of expertise) will likely be providing reserved practice advice/services in BC -- what happens next with this infringement?
8.6 What if your employer hasn't announced how they are responding to reserved practice and continue to post jobs that aren't considering it?
8.7 Non-CAB members may be the ones who are most likely to run up against these rules. How will this be managed?

Information regarding compliance with reserved practice and enforcement of title and practice can be found in the College's Compliance Plan.

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Section 9 -- External practice

9.1 Will there be clarity on what biologists are able to do outside of their area of practice, particularly where we may have substantial experience (eg. can a biologist sign off on a site investigation report not including elements where a specialist is required)?

As a professional you should not be doing anything out of your scope of practice and area(s) of competence and you are prohibited from practicing within the reserved practice of another profession as defined in their regulation.

9.2 Where is it documented that professional services are exempt from reserved practice scope, where related to assessing the effects of contaminants for contaminated sites?
9.3 As a dual registrant, how should split my "forestry work" from my "applied biology" work?

 The reserved and regulated practices for College and Association of BC Forest Professionals are defined in the Applied Biologists Regulation and Forest Professionals Regulation respectively. Dual registrants when providing advice, services and taking responsibility for their work need to clearly identify under which professional designation the work is coming from. For example, if its advice that falls under the Forest Professionals Regulation then your ABCFP designation should be used and vice versa if its advice that falls under the Applied Biologists Regulation.

The College is working with ABCFP through the Environmental Practice Panel to give clearer guidance to registrants.

9.4 In instances where Water Sustainability Act Orders require habitat restoration (not having to do with RAPR, but understanding the QEP definition), will reserved practice help (ie. in prohibiting other professionals from doing this work)?
9.5 The practice of applied biology does not include the provision of advice or services within the reserved practice of a registrant of another regulatory body, how does this work for conducting contaminated sites investigations
9.6 The Contaminated Sites Regulation in BC supersedes needing to be registrant with the College, what about the practice of toxicology for federal sites, which essentially require the same skills?
9.7 For clarity, can RPBio conduct a contaminated site investigation or does that work require supervision by P.Eng. or P.Geo?
9.8 The practice of risk assessment (outside of Contaminated Sites Regulation) in BC, requires skills that are not part of training or experience to be regulated by CAB but the CAB's definition of "impact" covers practice areas such as these that are outside the training, how will this situation be addressed?
9.9 How do professionals under non-PGA professional bodies with certifications such as CPESC, CISEC, BC-CESCL, CSAP, EP, etc. fall under reserved practice?

If the activity falls within the definition of the “biology objective” in the regulation the College’s position is that it would be in the reserved practice of applied biology professionals and must be supervised by a College registrant unless authorized by another statute such as the Contaminated Sites Regulation.

  • NB: Questions for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy regarding reserved practice at contaminated sites can be directed to [email protected].

9.10 Where does the ECO Canada Environmental Professional designation fit in the province of BC -- have there been any discussions with this Federal body?

The College has engaged in consultation with ECO Canada. ECO Canada is not a federal body nor are they a regulator for environmental professionals. Information on this organization can be found on their website.

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Section 10 -- Applied Biology Limited Licensee

10.1 Is there a list of specialties eligible for an Applied Biology-Limited Licensee (AB-LL)?

No, applicants are to declare their intended area of the license and the assessment team will determine if the area applied for is appropriate for the applicant.

10.2 Who is the AB-LL designation targeted toward?

Individual practitioners who meet the requirements of the designation.

10.3 Could you please explain the "greater than five years experience" expectation [for limited licensees] -- what training would be applicable to this?

This registrant category is an entrance pathway for individuals who may not meet the requirements to be a RPBio, RBTech or ABT registrant. The Applied Biology Limited Licensee (AB-LL) requirements are provided in detail in the College’s Credentialing Standard. However, applications are required to have five years' experience in the practice of applied biology as defined in the Regulation with two years of experience in the specific area they application is for.

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Section 11 -- Registration requirements

Information regarding registration requirements including mandatory training such as the College’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and Indigenous Awareness courses, are found in the Credentialing Standard and the Apply to Register page on the College’s website. This webpage also provides tutorials regarding the application process.

11.1 Under the rules of reserved practice, what is the best way to foster young biologists so they may get to their RPBios -- does this transition place any new barriers for young or new biologist from previous mentorship practices or in Training registrants?

Reserved practice does not introduce any barriers on new or young biologists or in-training registrants regarding existing mentorship practices. In-training registrants have met the academic requirements for the registrant category they have applied for such as Biologist in Training (BIT), Registered Biology Technologist in Training (RBTech in Training/Trainee) or Applied Biology Technician in Training (ABT in Training/Trainee). While in training these registrations are working on requirements such as work experience and competencies needed to be a Registered Professional Biologist (RPBio), RBTech or ABT. Reserved practice is not changing requirements for in-Training registrants or removing the in-Training registrant categories.

11.2 Will the Areas of Practice in the College registrant portal be equal to/considered the ‘reserved practice’ areas we are allowed to work under moving forward?

No. Reserved practice are activities that are carried out as defined by the biology objective in the regulation.

11.3 Is there value in being an in-Training registrant?

One of the benefits of being an in-training registrant is that the academic assessment has been completed, so you can be certain that you meet the academic qualifications for your intended designation, and only have to focus on the credentialing requirements. Also, in training registrants are regulated and held accountable to the Code of Ethics giving employers and the public greater certainty in their professional conduct.

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