B.C. health minister promises ‘stronger oversight’ of health professionals as new legislation tabled
B.C.’s health minister has introduced a long-awaited piece of legislation that will overhaul the province’s system for regulating everyone from doctors to dental hygienists, promising increased accountability for health professionals and improved transparency for the public.
Adrian Dix tabled the Health Professions and Occupations Act on Wednesday afternoon, saying it will replace the Health Professions Act.
“Our government is making the most significant changes to oversight of regulated health professions in British Columbia’s history,” Dix said in a news release.
“These changes will streamline the process to regulate new health professions, provide stronger oversight, provide more consistent discipline across the professions, acting in the public interest and protecting patient care in the province while also laying the groundwork to further reduce the total number of regulatory colleges.”
The new legislation follows a 2019 report from an international expert who charged that B.C.’s professional health colleges had demonstrated “a lack of relentless focus on the safety of patients” and recommended the current system be scrapped and replaced entirely.
The proposed new act would create a new oversight body and an independent discipline tribunal for professionals accused of wrongdoing.
It also reduces the number of professional colleges to six, down from the 15 that currently exist after a number of amalgamations over the last few years.
Dix said the province will now prioritize the regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists, something many members of those professions have been pleading for over the past three decades. After that, the priority will be diagnostic and therapeutic professionals.