November 10, 2022


We’re back! We’re back with the HPOA.

The mammoth draft Health Professions and Occupations Act (Bill 36 – 2022) has inspired us to conduct a weekly blog on the various sections of this new Bill, and comparing them to the existing Health Professions Act, RSBC 1996, c. 183. Given that Bill 36 has 646 sections — more than ten times as many sections as the HPA — we will be blogging well into the new year, keeping you company through Christmas and Chinese New Year!

We start with licensure, with a nod to our colleague, Ms. Corinne de Bruin at CPSBC. This one’s for you.

License committees can set limits or conditions

Under the HPA, a significant limitation for registration committees is the committee’s lack of discretion to admit registrants with limits or conditions. In the HPA, unless HPA s. 20(2.1) applies, registration committees must take an all-or-nothing approach: either an applicant fails to meet one or more registration requirements in a registration class, or the applicant categorically meets all requirements. A registration committee has no room for granting registration on terms intended to address concerns.

Under the proposed HPOA, in addition to bylaw-based registration requirements (now “eligibility standards”), a registration committee (now a “license committee”) must be satisfied that an applicant for a license is both “fit to practise” and “will practise… in an ethical manner, having regard to the person’s entire disciplinary record, character, past conduct and other relevant factors” (HPOA s. 38).

Where a registrar has not already issued a licence on the basis that an applicant meets eligibility standards (HPOA s. 43), or has dismissed an application for a fatal defect (HPOA s. 44), an application comes before a licence committee.

Even if an applicant meets eligibility standards, a licence committee “may”, when directing the registrar to “issue, vary, renew or reinstate an applicant’s licence,” “attach limits or conditions to a licence”, for the purposes of being satisfied that an applicant is fit to practice, or will practise in an ethical manner (HPOA s. 52(1) and (2)).

Procedurally, when a licence committee considers limits or conditions (or considers refusing to issue, vary, renew or reinstate a licence), it must provide written notice of the decision being considered, along with reasons (HPOA s. 51(2)). The committee may also offer the applicant a choice between a licence subject to limits or conditions, or a hearing (HPOA s. 51(2)). If the applicant refuses the offer of a qualified licence, the licence committee must hold a hearing (HPOA s. 51(2)(c)). But, subject to the bylaws requiring a specific format, a hearing may be in writing (HPOA s. 380(2)). This express provision for written hearings is a nice addition, given that the HPA is not clear in allowing for written hearings.

Additionally, a licence committee may impose limits or conditions, or refuse to issue a licence, without a hearing, if an applicant is or has been the subject of a criminal conviction, a regulatory investigation, or a practice suspension or revocation, and the underlying conduct gives rise to concerns about whether the applicant is fit to practise, or will practice ethically and safely (HPPA s. 54(2), (3), and (4)).

The power of a licence committee to impose limits or conditions gives the committee the flexibility to allow applicants an opportunity to practice, while ensuring safeguards to ensure they practice competently and ethically.

Bill 36 – Health Professions and Occupations Act (3rd Session, 42nd Parliament (2022) FIRST READING)

Lisa C. Fong, K.C. and Michael Ng