Canada: Bill 29: Overview Of Proposed Amendments To The Professional Code

On June 5, the Minister of Justice and minister responsible for the application of legislation concerning professionals, Sonia LeBel, tabled in the National Assembly Bill 29, entitled An Act to amend the Professional Code and other provisions in the oral health and the applied sciences sectors.

The bill is aimed at modernizing several aspects of the professional system, particularly the following:

  • description of the scopes of practice of certain reserved-title professions;
  • possibility for a general meeting of a professional order to be held by technological means so as to allow the participation of persons not physically present;
  • redefinition of the professional activities reserved to architects and engineers and possibility of delegating certain activities to professional technologists;
  • amendment of provisions of the Civil Code of Québec governing the responsibilities of persons who direct or supervise work;
  • broadening of the scopes of professional practice in oral health sector.

It is worth briefly examining the amendments proposed in this bill.

Description of the scopes of practice of various reserved-title professions

Under the amendments proposed in Bill 29, the activities reserved for vocational guidance counsellors, criminologists, psychoeducators, dental hygienists, dental prosthesis and appliance technologists, respiratory therapists and sexologists are revised and modified.

Possibility for a general meeting of a professional order to be held by technological means so as to allow the participation of persons not physically present

The bill allows professional orders to hold an annual general meeting in person, through a technological means, or simultaneously in both manners1. This will promote increased participation by members in the decision-making process of their professional order and allow them to be better informed in that regard.

Redefinition of the professional activities reserved to architects and engineers and possibility of delegating certain activities to professional technologists

Bill 29 proposes a broader definition of the profession of engineer to better account for all the areas of practice and specializations of engineers, such as computer engineering and environmental engineering.

In addition, certain new activities will henceforth be reserved exclusively for engineers, such as certifying the validity of results generated by computer systems or design assistance software derived from engineering principles.

Finally, the adoption of Bill 29 is aimed at combating the illegal practice of the engineering profession.

The bill will also ensure a more comprehensive definition of the practice of architects in order to better reflect today's reality. Thus, in addition to the preparation of plans and specifications, reference is made to all of the work involved in the supervision of construction work and in coordinating the work of persons who contribute to the construction of buildings that are durable, functional and harmonious.

Bill 29 also requires the professional orders of architects and engineers to determine by regulation the activities reserved for their members that may be performed by professional technologists.

Amendment of provisions of the Civil Code of Québec governing the responsibilities of persons who direct or supervise work

With the coming into force of Bill 29, a professional technologist who directed or supervised work on an immovable construction project can be held solidarily liable for the loss of the work occurring within five years after the work was completed, if the loss is due to faulty design, construction, production or defects in the ground2.

By the same token, a professional technologist who directed or supervised the work can be held liable, jointly with others who participated in the construction, for poor workmanship existing at the time the work was accepted or discovered within one year thereafter3.

A professional technologist who did not direct or supervise the work can be held liable for a loss occasioned by a defect or error in the plans or expert opinions he or she supplied4.

Broadening of the scopes of professional practice in oral health sector

Bill 29 recognizes that denturologists are competent in matters of prosthetic rehabilitation and dental implants. It expressly provides that denturologists can contribute to the determination of a patient's dental treatment plan, while acknowledging the expertise of other oral healthcare providers.

Pursuant to this bill, hygienists will now be able to offer oral healthcare prevention and hygiene services to school-age children and elderly residents of retirement homes providing long-term medical care (CHSLDs).

Bill 29 also provides that aesthetic activities in the oral health sector that entail risks of injury are now reserved to dentists.

Conclusion

Bill 29 has been tabled, but it still must go through several steps in the legislative process before being adopted and coming into force, notably special consultations and in-depth analysis at the committee stage.

Finally, we note that the professional orders affected by this bill seem favourably disposed towards the proposed amendments it contains.

Footnote

1 During the general meeting of the Quebec Bar on June 11, 2019, lawyers entered on the roll of the professional order could effectively attend the meeting by webcast.

2 Art. 2118 of the Civil Code of Québec

3 Art. 2120 CCQ

4 Art. 2121 CCQ

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