Local MLA concerned about scope of Bill 36

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — North Peace MLA Dan Davies says he is concerned about the effects of the new Health Professions and Occupations Act, which recently had its third reading in the Legislature of British Columbia.

The Health Professions and Occupations Act, better known as Bill 36, is meant to replace the current Health Professions Act. According to the explanatory notes found on the bill, the primary objectives are to “prioritize protection of the public and to facilitate good governance by regulators.” 

The bill encompasses many changes across the healthcare system. Under these new amendments, the current fifteen colleges of health professionals would be reduced to six. The head of these colleges would also be appointed instead of elected. 

Other changes include enabling cultural safety and humility, increasing regulatory processes, and improving transparency.

In a provincial release, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the bill includes “the most significant changes to oversight of regulated health professions in British Columbia’s history.”

An inquiry into B.C.’s College of Dental Surgeons and Health Professions Act was done in 2018 by governance advisor Harry Cayton. His report, known as the Cayton Report, stated, “A complete overhaul of the way health professional regulation is conceived and delivered is required.”

In an email, Dix told Energeticcity.ca that Bill 36 would overhaul legislation that is over 30 years old and modernize British Columbia’s health system.

“These comprehensive changes will help ensure health professions are regulated more consistently and transparently in the public interest, moving away from a system that is decades old,” Dix said.

At a massive 645 pages and comprised of 12 sections, Bill 36 is one of the biggest bills to hit the assembly, according to Davies. 

Davies said the massive bill was “dropped” at a meeting on November 24th for its third reading and believes that insufficient time was given to fully read through it. 

“I’m not sure we made it a quarter way through the bill before they brought it in what is called closure, or the guillotine,” Davies explained. “They basically say, ‘you have one more hour left, good luck,’ and they bring it through.” 

The BC Liberals objected to the bill on the grounds of insufficient scrutiny time, but with an NDP majority, the bill was pushed through.

In his statement to Energeticcity.ca, Dix said the cooperation between the parties was necessary to bring about this bill.

“Critical to Bill 36’s exhaustive consultations included an all-party review based on the Cayton Report’s findings,” Dix said. “That review’s recommendations were unanimously approved by the health critics of the Green and Liberal Party at the time.”

Davies said that the bill itself was not his biggest worry, adding that he thought it had some good items, such as streamlining the process to allow foreign health care professionals to get their credentials in the province. 

Besides not having enough time to get a “second lens” on the bill due to how fast it was pushed through, Davies said he was also concerned about its scope.

“We have a lot of concerns about how the government is going to implement this. What are the long-term, or unintended consequences, of Bill 36?”

Davies believes making numerous wide-reaching changes to an already delicate health care system isn’t a good idea.

“It’s a system that’s on life support systems itself,” Davies said. 

To read the Health Professions and Occupations Act, visit the Legislative Assembly of BC’s website.

The entire Moose Talks interview with Dan Davies can be viewed below:

Thanks for Reading!

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