The government of British Columbia is conducting a review of the reliance on external professionals to evaluate the best practices of the natural resource sector, including watershed protection.
Professional reliance is a regulatory principle that is used in several resource management domains in B.C., including forestry and mining. Experts are hired by the industry to make expert judgments on the balance of values, the level of acceptable risk and local communities.
An assessment of the professional reliance principle written by University of Victoria professor Mark Haddock, published by the Law Foundation of BC, states that, “In some cases the same individual can be the evaluator, planner, approving professional and the supplier of goods and services. In many cases that professional may be an employee or contractor of the proponent, with duties of loyalty that may conflict with optimal environmental outcomes.”
In August 2017, B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman announced that the government would conduct the review, questioning whether the current system provided adequate community input and was in the public’s interest.
The review is intended to assess the public’s opinion about the appropriateness and effectiveness of the current professional reliance model, including transparency of qualified professional hired, the role of industry associations in guiding qualified professionals, the level of oversight provided by professionals, and the level of oversight provided by the government.
More information about this review is available on the govTogetherBC website: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/consultation/professional-reliance-review/