AIBC announces Professional Governance Act transition

The AIBC has officially transitioned to the Professional Governance Act (PGA). According to the organization, the Architects Act was repealed on February 10 and superseded by the Professional Governance Act and its regulations.

The organization further states that there won’t be any substantive changes to professional standards or how firms and individual registrants are regulated. The AIBC will continue to exist as a statutory corporation, and regulate the profession of architecture in the interest of the public. All applications, complaints and ongoing matters submitted prior to February 10 will follow the current processes under the Architects Act, until they are completed.

Here’s what architects and other registrants need to know about the transition:

Reserved Practice, Updated Code of Ethics, Tariff of Fees of Architectural Services

The reserved scope of practice for architects will essentially remain the same, with some improvements and clarity as to when an architect is required by law. Section 60 of the Architects Act (which have commonly been referred to as the “exceptions”), is being replaced by an updated “reserved practice” scope. They will be found in the Regulations to the PGA, and are specific to the practice of architecture. The AIBC put forward recommendations for the Reserved Practice, and hopes to see better harmonization with the BC Building Code and clarity for the public, including clients and building officials.

Continuing with professional practice and standards – as registrants are aware, the AIBC has been updating the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The primary changes to the Code of Ethics under the PGA are 12 ethical principles that all regulators must include in their codes. These and accompanying commentary were shared with registrants in December, and are generally restatements of existing professional standards. Other changes will include clarification around the use of the Schedule of Architectural Services (formerly known as the Tariff) and greater detail in the Code standards around supervision of services by architects and use of the architects’ seal. None of the amendments and additions to the profession’s standards are substantive or will change the way architects practice. 

Even after the updated Code of Ethics has been published on February 10, further modernization to the document will be taking place over 2023.

Bylaws and Regulatory Documents

The major component of the AIBC’s transition to the PGA has been the development of new bylaws which meet the requirements of the PGA, and several draft suites of bylaws are currently available on the AIBC website for review. I would like to note that the final AIBC Bylaw document is going to look very different than it has in the past. AIBC Bylaws are being compiled into a much more comprehensive, single-source document for the regulation of the architectural profession in B.C., including ‘Schedules’. This will alleviate the need to refer to multiple regulatory documents. Registrants can expect to see the full document on the AIBC website on February 10. The document will continue to be refined as we move through the first stages of implementation.

In general, one of the largest transition activities has been updating the AIBC’s suite of documents and resources. Registrants may notice that they come across older documents that have incorrect references to bylaws and legislation. Not everything will be updated by the day of transition – some AIBC documents, webpages, information, and processes on the website may not yet be reflective of the new legislation. The AIBC will clearly indicate which documents have been updated, and which have not. Over the coming months, the AIBC will continue to update key regulatory documents and the website, and in the meantime, registrants should look to the Professional Governance Act and its Regulations, as well as the new AIBC Bylaw document.

The Definition of Good Standing

Under the Architects Act, being in ‘Good Standing’ simply means the registrant has paid their annual fee on or before February 1. Under the Professional Governance Act, good standing will now include the following: payment of all fees owing to the AIBC by the due date; not being suspended or under a restriction, condition or limitation of practice that removes a registrant from good standing; and compliance with the Continuing Education System by the deadline, and all Certificate of Practice, Professional Liability Insurance and Firm Update requirements. This is consistent with professional regulatory expectations in other professions. 

Changes to CES Program

As the AIBC has previously shared, mandatory continuing education programs that support Indigenous reconciliation are required under the PGA. Starting this current 2022–2024 reporting period, CES Participants must meet requirements for learning related to Indigenous history, Truth and Reconciliation and/or engagement – a minimum of two Core Learning Units related to Indigenous Peoples Learning are required each reporting period. More information on this change can be found on the AIBC website.