"While the legislation would only directly address the first 2 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." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Vancouver (25 Oct. 2018) — The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) 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.
B.C. government takes first step in resource and environmental stewardship reform
The legislation will implement 2 of the 121 recommendations made in the June 2018 Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance, following an 8-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 Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "While the legislation would only directly address the first 2 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."
Many more recommendations to implement
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 Review also included 32 sweeping recommendations to strengthen natural resource regulatory regimes, including improving laws, regulations, Indigenous engagement and to improve information, including the 87 recommendations specific to environmental reform.
The day-to-day work of thousands of BCGEU/NUPGE members is shaped by the professional reliance 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/NUPGE made a submission to government bringing forward member concerns.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE