Patients at the center of new health legislation

Patient safety will be strengthened, oversight of health regulatory colleges strengthened and governance of healthcare professionals improved through innovative legislation.

“Our government is making the most significant changes to the oversight of regulated health professions in British Columbia’s history,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “These changes will streamline the regulatory process for new health professions, provide stronger oversight, ensure more consistent discipline across all professions, act in the public interest and protect patient care in the province, while throwing the foundations for further reducing the total number of regulatory colleges.

The Health Professions and Occupations Act replaces its predecessor, the Health Professions Act. Legislation enables creation of new oversight body, independent disciplinary tribunal and reformed complaints process that increases accountability and transparency, protects those in vulnerable situations, creates commitment to cultural safety and humility, and a new way of regulating low- health risky occupations.

The legislation will simplify and streamline the process of regulating new professions. The government will begin regulating counselors, then diagnostic and therapeutic professionals, and will continue to finalize the merger of colleges from 15 to 6. A merger will combine the colleges of dietitians, occupational therapists, opticians, optometrists, physiotherapists, psychologists and speech and hearing professionals in one regulatory body. The other merger will bring together the colleges of chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopathic doctors, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncturists.

The Department of Health made progress before the legislation by reducing the number of regulatory colleges. In October 2020, the three colleges of nursing in British Columbia were merged into one; in September 2021 the College of Nursing merged with the College of Midwives and the College of Physicians and Surgeons merged with the College of Podiatrists. In September 2022, the four colleges of oral health in British Columbia, which included dentists, dental assistants, dental therapists, denturists, dental hygienists and dental technicians, were merged into a single college of oral health. regulations.

There are 15 health colleges under the act providing a regulatory framework for 25 health professions.

The legislation partly addresses concerns raised in a 2019 report by Harry Cayton, former chief executive of the UK’s Professional Standards Authority, who was appointed by the Minister of Health to review the professions law. health and its regulations and to make recommendations.

The changes also reflect some of the key recommendations from the 2020 In Plain Sight Report: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in BC Health Care, and further implement the action plan of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Additionally, the amendments respond to recommendations made by the multi-stakeholder Steering Committee on Modernizing the Regulation of Health Professionals, co-chaired by Dix; Norm Letnick, MPP for Kelowna-Lake Country; and Sonia Furstenau, MP for Cowichan Valley.

“I thank everyone who has contributed to these changes, including the people of British Columbia, health care workers, my legislative colleagues Norm Letnick and Sonia Furstenau, and Indigenous leaders, who helped create the priorities discussed. in legislation presented to the house to consider,” Dix added.

Learn more:

For the Harry Cayton report, An Inquiry into the performance of the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia and the Health Professions Act, visit: professional-regulations/rapport-cayton-college-of-dental-surgeons-2018.pdf

To view the recommendations report of the Steering Committee on Modernizing the Regulation of Health Professionals, visit: -to-modernize-regulatory-framework.pdf

Two background documents follow.

About Michael S. Montanez

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