On November 27, 2019, the British Columbia Ministry of Health Steering Committee on Modernization of Health Professional Regulation released a report titled “Modernizing the provincial health profession regulatory framework”. The report announces proposed changes to the regulation of health professions in British Columbia and invites consultation on the proposed changes. The report was prepared in response to a review of the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia that was completed in April 2019 by Harry Cayton, a review that made 21 recommendations to dramatically overhaul the health-regulatory framework.
Although the Steering Committee report does not include Cayton’s most dramatic recommendations, it proposes significant changes to professional regulation. The proposed changes intended to modernize British Columbia’s health profession regulatory framework focus on five key themes:
- Improved governance:
The recommendations include smaller regulatory boards with equal
numbers of registrants and public members and eliminating board
elections and replacing them with a transparent, competency-based
appointment process. A separate body for board appointments would
be created. The Steering Committee also recommends moving away from
volunteerism for boards and providing consistent compensation for
- Improved efficiency and
effectiveness through a reduction in the number of regulatory
colleges: The report recommends reducing the number of
regulatory colleges from 20 to 5. The College of Physicians and
Surgeons of British Columbia, the British Columbia College of
Nursing Professionals, and the College of Pharmacists of British
Columbia would be maintained while an Oral Health Regulatory
College would be created to replace the College of Dental Surgeons,
College of Denturists, College of Dental Hygienists and College of
Dental Technicians. A College of Health and Care Professions of
British Columbia would be created to regulate all remaining health
- Strengthening the oversight
of regulatory colleges: The Steering Committee recommends
establishing an oversight body for all colleges, similar to the
Professional Standards Authority in the United Kingdom. The
oversight body would have a range of functions, including routine
audits, public reporting on common performance standards,
conducting systemic reviews and investigations, reviewing
registration and complaint investigation decisions, identifying
core elements of shared standards of ethics and conduct across
professions, overseeing the board member appointment process,
requiring colleges to create or update standards of professional
practice, the development of model bylaws, and holding a single
register of all regulated health professionals.
- Complaints and
adjudication: The report recommends a simplified
disciplinary process in which a new and independent adjudicative
body, separate from the regulatory colleges, would make decisions
regarding all regulated health professionals. This would separate
the investigation of complaints from the decision-making stage.
Transparency would be increased as all agreements between
registrants and regulatory colleges would be public and colleges
would be allowed to provide limited public comment if complaints
became known to the public. The Steering Committee also recommends
investigation time limits, removing the ability of professionals to
negotiate agreements late in the discipline process, and that
complaint and discipline decisions must take into consideration the
professional’s past history.
- Information sharing to improve patient safety and public trust: The Steering Committee recommends that colleges and other agencies be enabled to share information where necessary for public safety and protection.
Consultation on the Steering Committee’s recommendations will run until January 10, 2020 and the Steering Committee will then provide final recommendations. Field Law will provide an update on the recommendations when they are made as they suggest that significant reformation of the regulation of professions is on the horizon.
In other news and closer to home in Alberta, the Fair Registration Practices Act has been proclaimed in effect March 1, 2020. This legislation was introduced on June 19, 2019 and received royal assent on June 28, 2019. Its provisions, unless otherwise noted in the legislation, will now come into force as of March 1, 2020. A summary of the changes introduced in the Fair Registration Practices Act, previously reported by Field Law, can be found here.
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