Overview of Proposed Legislation

Overview of proposed legislation

With all of the required elements of a professional regulatory body in place, the Association explored the next step to achieve regulated occupation status for the Professional Chemist in British Columbia. After considering other options, it was confirmed through advice from the provincial government that only a separate enactment or statute would lead to full recognition of the Professional Chemist in British Columbia.
In analogy with the legislation of other professions in British Columbia such as the Engineers and Geoscientist Act, the statute would be the Chemists Act.  The enactment would have provisions for competency and accountability and the governance structures necessary to instill the public confidence that is required of a regulated profession in British Columbia and in Canada as specified under the AIT.  The enactment would be fully comprehensive, comparable, and compatible with current enactments in BC for the professions.
Specifically, the proposed legislation would align with the following Acts which govern professions in BC:Registered Professional Agrologists(The Agrologists Act);RegisteredProfessional Biologists (The College of Applied Biology Act);

Registered Professional Foresters (The Foresters Act);

Engineers and Geoscientists (The Engineers and Geoscientists Act)Elements from these Acts provide a suitable outline of the requirements for legislation. In reviewing these statutes, ACPBC noted that it had the capacity to smoothly bring into operation all the relevant clauses from which the following headings are derived as an illustration:

Scope of Practice:

A clearly defined scope of practice is vital to the harmonious operation of the registered professional system in British Columbia

The definition of the scope of practice of chemistry has been developed in conjunction with other professional chemistry organizations across Canada, including those where this definition is in statute.

“Practice of professional chemistry” means the performing of any activity within or involving chemistry for gain, hire or hope of reward, either directly or indirectly using the knowledge and education from the field of chemistry that requires the application of the principles of the chemical sciences, and that concerns the safeguarding of public welfare, environment, life, health, property or economic interests, including, but not limited to:
a) investigations, interpretations, evaluations, consultations, teaching or management aimed at the discovery, creation,  development or analysis of natural or synthetic chemical substances,
b) investigations, interpretations, evaluations, consultations, writing, editing, teaching or management relating to molecular or material chemical properties, conditions or processes that may affect the well-being of the general public, including those pertaining to the preservation of the natural environment and public health and safety.

Recently a regulation has been tabled  in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec that is essentially compatible with the foregoing definition. This amendment is particularly relevant to any legislative initiative in British Columbia as it defines scope of practice in a fashion that is independent of right to practice (which is held by chemists in Quebec).  A robust definition of scope of practice is the key issue for us in BC as it provides the link to the standards and breadth of education that are required to demonstrate competency by individuals providing service to the public within the scope of practice.

Other professions retain their own scope of practice

This section would clarify that there are other related professions that utilize chemistry and whose rights and duties are not infringed.  An example would be the Assayers as defined under Acts relating to mining and metallurgy. Notably the Quebec regulation referred to above also allows exemptions where the competency (education and experience) of another profession legitimately overlaps with the skills and knowledge of chemists. Such an overlap will not abridge the rights of chemists with the appropriate competencies to practice and offer services in these areas as well. However, articulation of that overlap will take place between professions who must have equal regulatory standing to make that dialogue effective.


Mandatory Registration.

In order to define the circumstances under which professionals in related fields can practice within the scope of another profession while still ensuring protection of the public, a new policy approach – Mandatory Registration – has emerged that is viewed as having advantages over exclusive Right to Practice in an increasingly multidisciplinary working world.Mandatory registration first asserts the importance of accountability, specifying that only professionals registered in a recognized professional association and bound by a Disciplinary Policy and Code of Ethics would be considered for overlapping practice.  Second, competency to work in an area of overlap between two professions would be adjudicated on the basis of the relevant education and experience of the professional as identified in their credentials. Under this concept, registration to practice in a certain area is made exclusive to members of two or more professions who are deemed to have the competencies to carry out activities in the area.  “Right to Practice” or “licensure” is hence replaced by a more inclusive approach that corresponds to the current approach to the defining of Qualified Professional in a number of BC regulations.  These definitions are broken into two clauses: the first, usually labeled (a), defines accountability requirements (Code of Ethics, Disciplinary Code, and membership standards); and the second part (b) specifies that the professional be competent to perform the tasks in the regulation.To facilitate the multidisciplinary aspects of some regulations such as the Riparian Areas Regulation, Codes of Practice have been negotiated by the relevant professional associations (CAB, APEGBC).  Such an approach is based on the same set of concepts in which regulated professionals work within a framework that provides accountability and transparency in the public interest.

The ACPBC wishes to emphasize that these developments eliminate the need for exclusive Right to Practice as a necessary element in the Chemists Act, so long as the scope of practice is restricted to those with the necessary education and experience in chemistry to ensure public health and safety are protected.  In particular no one who was not a member of a regulated occupation and recognized as having the necessary competency could perform the work.  The transfer of responsibility for Right to Practice to regulated professional organizations in the past was made solely to further ensure that only those individuals with the skills, knowledge, and experience to practice chemistry, other sciences, or engineering could be identified. New and more flexible approaches can provide the same assurance with more efficient application across the spectrum of all skilled professionals.

Recognition of the Association and definition of its rights and duties as a Regulatory Authority or Regulator

Subsections would include:

  • Definition of the officers and members of the Association;
  • By-laws on the democratic functioning of the Association;
  • Membership criteria and processes to attain and retain professional membership;

These sections would be drawn directly from the ACPBC By-Laws.  The By-Laws were initially created to be directly applicable for this purpose.  Subsequent revisions to the By-Laws have been done to further refine the practices of the Association in order to allow a smooth transition to the proposed Act.  As in the College of Applied Biology Act that recognizes biology technologists, the rights and obligations of two classes of chemical technologists that are currently in ACPBC Bylaws would be included in the legislation.

Interprovincial and inter-jurisdictional agreements governing practice of the profession including transferability and mutual recognition of credentials

These sections would recognize the equivalency of professional chemists in BC under existing interprovincial agreements.  They would define the ACPBC as having Regulatory Authority for professional chemists as understood under the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).Regulatory authorities are also described as regulators when they have that delegation of responsibility from a provincial government.  Professional chemists would be listed as a regulated occupation in British Columbia under the NWPTA.

Rights of the Association

This would include subsections:

  • Recognition of the ability of the Association to set membership fees;
  • Prohibition on practice within the defined scope of practice, except by professional members of the Association; subject to exemptions and agreements established as described above (exemptions)

The Association already has exclusive Right-to-Title as found in enactments of other professional associations. Normally such rights are incorporated into the new legislation by transition clauses. Well-defined provisions for protecting the right of the Professional Chemist to practice within a scope of practice derived from articulation of the concept of Mandatory Registration would be included in this section. (See the discussion above).

Complaints and Discipline

These sections (about 30% of the enactments of other professions) establish a complaints and discipline process that respects the rights of all parties.  The text for these sections would derive from the ACPBC Disciplinary Policy, which in turn was designed to fulfill this role in the proposed Chemists Act.  Registered Professional Chemists in BC already subscribe to this policy, and sign a Code of Ethics whose violation can lead to a disciplinary procedure.