Minister Heyman Speaks About Professional Reliance
The Minister of Environment, George Heyman, was asked in the BC Legislature as to what Government is doing serious incidents such as the Mount Polley Mine disaster. Minister Heyman, the lead of BC Government’s Professional Reliance Review (PR Review), responded (from BC Government Hansard):
“The incident, the environmental disaster, perhaps the largest environmental disaster in B.C. history to which the member (MLA Furstenau) refers, must never be allowed to happen again. Let me just start by making that absolutely clear.
But that disaster followed years of deep cuts to inspections and monitoring under the previous government. We are taking a number of steps to address that, including reviewing the professional reliance model, including ensuring that we have a greater inspection capacity on the ground.
“The member has pointed to the lack of faith of British Columbians that we have the ability, the regulatory regime and the staff to protect our environmental interests while we grow a sustainable economy. That’s why we are reviewing the professional reliance model — a review that is well underway.”
ASTTBC is one of 5 associations being reviewed by the BC Government as part of the PR Review. “The PR Review initiative is a ‘first of its kind’ in BC for many decades and will most certainly lead to changes in the oversight of professional associations and consideration of which of the professionals should be designated as a Qualified Professional (QP),” according to ASTTBC CEO John Leech. “ASTTBC has been saying for decades that, while engineering technologists and technicians have strong technical competencies, ASTTBC members are not fully considered as QP recognition is delegated. It is time for this to change.”
ASTTBC members inspect dams, mines, tailing ponds, bridges, pipelines and other physical structures in the natural environment, yet their critical role is not fully considered and recognized. “Why do we not require inspectors to be fully certified and professionally accountable?”, questions Leech. “These technology professionals regularly go into the field and complete an inspection and file a report, yet we do not have a system in place that assures their qualifications and professional accountability.”
ASTTBC CEO John Leech also noted that ASTTBC members have been recognized as QP in some critical areas such as QPs in BC Government legislation covering services associated with riparian areas… and as reclamation specialists by the Oil and Gas Commission, to name a couple. But there are many areas where ASTTBC members’ expertise has been ignored, for example with the fairly recent Water Sustainability Act, where a PEng or Licensee is required to design wells over 15 metres. ASTTBC believes this statute should be amended to include ASTTBC members’ competencies.
ASTTBC is working with the BC Government and the other 4 professional associations to enhance professional reliance generally,, build a more sustainable model, increase Government oversight of professional associations and assure full consideration and recognition of the qualifications of all professionals.