New ‘umbrella’ bill proposes rule changes for Alberta professional regulatory organizations

A new bill aims to make it easier for Alberta professional regulatory organizations to recognize credentials from out-of-province workers.

The province delegates authority to regulatory organizations — like the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta or the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association — who are responsible for the governance, registration, conduct, and discipline of professionals.

Introduced in the legislature Monday, Bill 23, the Professional Governance Act, aims to modernize the oversight and management of the province’s regulatory organizations.

“(These organizations are) responsible for ensuring their registrants deliver services in a way that protects lives, health, property, the environment and the economic interest of Albertans,” said Kaycee Madu, labour and immigration minister.

“Currently these 22 organizations are governed by an inconsistent and confusing patchwork of legislation, one that includes nine separate acts and 22 regulations,” he added.

If passed, the bill would streamline governance under one “umbrella” act that the province says will provide a standard way for self-governing professions to conduct discipline and registration of members.

The proposed legislation would reduce barriers for regulated professionals who move to Alberta from other provinces or countries to gain employment.

“They can be recognized on a temporary basis to allow out-of-province professionals to work in Alberta on short-term projects or during emergencies,” Madu said. “This helps our province attract the professionals we need to fill labour shortages and support Alberta’s recovery.”

Jay Nagendran, registrar and CEO of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, said the new legislation would allow the province to attract better talent.

“(Bill 23) will help draw skilled and talented professionals from across Canada and around the world,” he said. “This diversity is increasingly critical in a province filled with opportunity.”

Madu said the proposed bill creates a standard pathway for new professional organizations to be created and for existing bodies to amalgamate with others.

In addition, the bill would change how regulatory body board members are appointed from an order-in-council to a ministerial order.

Should a regulatory organization no longer be able to serve the public interest, be able to “act in good faith,” or if there is a “clear threat” to the safety of Albertans, the government would be able to appoint a temporary public administrator to take charge of the regulatory body.

“Professional regulatory organizations do a good job, and I am confident that will continue under this new legislation,” Madu said. “However, there needs to be safeguards in case things go wrong.”

Bill 23 would not apply to organizations overseeing health-care professionals or teachers.

If the bill passes, the province would work with regulatory organizations to create individual “schedules” to create specific requirements for individual professions.

“This will make it easier for professional regulatory organizations to do their important work,” Madu said. 

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