British Columbia firms working in the natural resources sector will see new regulatory requirements as part of their operations, thanks to the updates of the Professional Governance Act that came into effect on Feb. 5, 2021.

Notably, any firms that offer professional engineering or geoscience services, including those that only provide advice or work internally, will be required to register with Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia (EGBC) for a “Permit to Practice,” beginning on July 2, 2021.

These new changes are being put into place as the result of an independent report delivered to the B.C. government in June 2018 titled, Professional Reliance Review: The Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance in Natural Resource Decision-Making. The report showcased some inefficiencies that spread across the different natural resource industries in the province.

“What that report identified is that all of these regulators were really reporting through different ministries of the government, so there wasn’t one consolidated approach for consistency across the regulations and their requirements for all these professionals working in that natural resource sector,” said Kelly Dayman, EGBC associate director, regulation of firms.

Related: An update to the Mining Association of Canada’s standard changes how companies should tackle risks and opportunities from climate change

The new permit requirement will bring B.C. in line with the other provinces in Canada (Quebec being the exception) that have similar regulations for their firms. According to Dayman, getting the permit will be similar to EGBC’s previous, optional program, known as the Organizational Quality Management Program (OQM). There was an audit requirement under that program, which EGBC used to help firms identify any risks or gaps in their operating procedures to help them create safer, more efficient operations.

“When we did [the audits] under our OQM program, we’d show up and people would be hesitant about it, but by the end they’d be thanking us, saying ‘This is better feedback than we’ve gotten from any of our consultants that looked at our operations,’” Dayman said. “These audits are being done by engineers and geoscientists, they understand the processes and they can point out best practices to adopt or identify risks. Whether it be a safety risk, an environmental [risk] or even just an efficiency.”

For firms that did not participate in the previous OQM program, Dayman ensured that there will be some leeway to get operations up to par, providing no one is deliberately skirting the rules.

“Our approach is [on] the proactive side. Both regulators and firms operating, everybody wants to do the right thing. We are trying to give the firms the tools and support to do the right thing.”    

To learn more about the new Permit to Practice requirements, visit