June 1, 2021

CLE’s Self-governing professions – David Avren, Cameron Cowper, and Efrem Swartz on regulating the regulators: a tale of three regulators and the age of the superintendent

Administrative Law
Inquiry and Investigations
Professional Regulation
Registration and Fitness

Real estate: David Avren is the Vice President, Legal Services and Compliance of the Real Estate Council of BC. David will be presenting on the anticipated amalgamation of the real estate and financial regulators into the new BC Financial Services Authority. Since 2005, the Real Estate Council of BC was a fully self-regulating agency that was largely independent of government. But during the real estate bubble in 2016, strong public concerns arose about the real estate market, including controversies about real estate sales, marketing, and Realtor conduct. Complaints to RECBC about realtors doubled during this period. In 2016, the OSRE (Office of Superintendent of Real Estate) commissioned a report by the IAG (Independent Advisory Group). In 2018, the Perrin Report was commissioned by the Minister of Finance to review the structure of the Real Estate Council, and upon review of the report, the BC government ended real estate industry self-regulation. Since 2019, there has been a gradual shift to ministerial regulation, with completion to occur in 2021 via amalgamation into the BC Financial Services Authority. David will talk about the significant challenges of effecting an amalgamation. He will also discuss the significant post-amalgamation changes to regulatory processes, including the transfer of regulatory authority to the Superintendent of Real Estate, issuance of administrative penalties for professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming; the creation of hearing officers rather than hearing committees; and extraordinary powers for urgent matters, such as freezing orders.

Health professions: In April 2019, the Cayton Report was released to the public, which examined the performance of the College of Dental Surgeons of BC, and the Health Professions Act. The report found a general lack of public trust in regulators, and a lack of focus on safety of patients. Cameron Cowper, who is the Registrar of the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC, has a unique college which regulates three separate hearing professions. Cameron will be speaking about the 2020 Steering Committee recommendations to modernize the HPA, which would include amalgamating twelve health colleges into two regulatory colleges: the regulatory college of allied health and care professionals, and the regulatory college of complementary and alternative health and care professionals. Amalgamating such a large number of colleges, each with different professions, has created a great deal of uncertainty, including how boards will fairly function, the increase in the number of statutory and advisory committees to ensure profession-specific expertise, whether there will be scales of economy, how an amalgamation will be funded, and the extent of the oversight role by the newly created superintendent office.

Resource professions: Efrem Schwartz is the Director of Legislation, Ethics and Compliance at the Engineers and Geoscientists of BC. He will talk about the road to the new Professional Governance Act, which governs six regulators. Efrem will discuss the history of the creation of the engineering profession, which started with the second collapse of the Quebec bridge in 1916. He will recount the growth of the regulator moving from an advocacy body to having a dual mandate, and now, as a pure professional regulator under the PGA. The changes under the PGA will include moving from the voluntary OQM certification to mandatory firm regulation, the shift from member-controlled bylaws to council-controlled bylaws, and a broad oversight by the newly created OSPG (Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance).

Here’s a sneak preview of a slide from Efrem’s presentation, but the prospect of leaping forward into the great unknown is, we suspect, a sentiment common to all three regulators.

Come join us! The agenda and registration for the course is available here: Self-Governing Professions 2021 (CLE)