Dear midwives and nurses,
late 2022, the provincial government passed new legislation for regulated health professions in B.C. The Health Professions and Occupations Act (“the HPOA", formerly Bill 36), which will replace the Health Professions Act, is not yet in effect. However, BCCNM and
B.C.'s 15 other health profession regulators are working together and with government to understand the changes and plan for its in-effect date.
The HPOA will provide the colleges with several new regulatory tools that will help us do our work more effectively, including:
BCCNM is committed to fulfilling its public protection mandate, delivering unshakeable confidence in care. This is reflected in our
regulatory philosophy, our
strategic plan, and our approach to
reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. The new legislation will help us to protect the public and to support nurses and midwives with clear standards.
The HPOA will empower BCCNM to act more swiftly, fairly, and transparently when there is a risk of harm to the public. It will reduce the time it takes for the college to remove an unsafe registrant from practice, and it strengthens the college's ability to act against racist or discriminatory practice.
Most nurses and midwives practising in B.C. are competent, ethical, and skilled practitioners, whose careers will not include any involvement with the college's disciplinary role. The extraordinarily high levels of trust in nurses and midwives are well-deserved; this new Act ensures we can continue to safeguard this trust and empower nurses and midwives in their practice.
We have heard concerns from registrants and would like to address a few misconceptions about the new legislation.
Under the HPOA, board positions will be split 50-50 between regulated health professionals and public members. The Minister of Health will
appoint board members at the recommendation of the new superintendent's office, through a transparent, merit-based process.
The college has experience with government-appointed boards. The Minister of Health appointed the inaugural board for our predecessor college, BCCNP, as well as BCCNM's first board. In both cases, board positions were split equally between public and professional members.
There is a misconception that all complaints will now be made public. This is not the case. The outcomes of all disciplinary actions will be published. This differs from the current legislation, which specifies only the outcomes of a “serious matter" must be made public.
There are also concerns that board and disciplinary review panels will be making decisions about nurses and midwives without professional context. This is incorrect. The inquiry process will operate much the same way as it does now under the Health Professions Act. Inquiry committee panels will continue to include a member of the relevant health profession. Discipline panels will be formed by the Director of Discipline, an independent statutory decision maker within the superintendent's office. Discipline panels will also include a relevant health professional.
Under the HPOA, regulators will continue to set fees, based on the costs of regulation. The costs to set up the superintendent's office will be assumed by government.
The HPOA does not require health professionals to be vaccinated. However, should government direct a requirement for health professionals to be vaccinated, the HPOA does require colleges to put in place bylaws supporting that requirement. There are no such enactments at this time.
I recognize that the HPOA is long and complex and there are a lot of unknowns. I want to reassure you that BCCNM will communicate with you openly, frequently, and with as much advance notice as possible of changes that will impact you. We are excited by the challenge ahead and welcome government's commitment to modernizing the health profession regulatory framework in B.C.
As a final reminder, BCCNM and our regulatory colleagues
must comply with the HPA, and once it is in force, the HPOA. Registrants with concerns about the HPOA should contact government directly.
If you have more questions about the change in legislation or want to learn more about the new Act, you can visit the Ministry of Health's
review their FAQs and updates.