At present (Fall 2023) the profession of Counselling/Psychotherapy is neither regulated under the Health Professions Act (HPA) nor the soon to be legislated Health Professions and Occupations Act (HPOA).  For over three decades, the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) has been regulating its members under a voluntary, self-regulating model. It will continue to do so until such time as the profession is regulated under the HPA/HPOA. 

In British Columbia, BCACC’s Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) designation has gained the trust of the public and is the de facto standard as more than 70% of all counselling practitioners belong to the Association.  The RCC designation is called for by most institutions, health authorities, insurance companies and other mental health service providers. 

The BCACC is very committed to the protection of the public and to upholding the value and established trust enshrined in the Registered Clinical Counsellor designation. 

The BCACC has rigorous registration, inquiry/complaint and discipline processes and employs NCIT certified investigators.  As such, it does an adequate job regulating its members and has taken multiple steps to further enhance its public protection measures.  However, the BCACC knows that the public will be afforded even better protection once the profession is regulated under the HPA/HPOA.

Bill-36 Overview

On October 19, 2022, the BC Government introduced Bill 36, titled the Health Professions and Occupations Act. The government intends this new legislation to replace the Health Professions Act, the legislation that currently governs health regulatory colleges and regulated health professions in the province. 

According to the BC Government news release on the Bill 36 legislation, which must pass through several stages – including any required amendments – before receiving Royal Assent and becoming law, it enables:

  • A streamlined path to reduce the number of BC health regulatory colleges through amalgamation
  • Creation of an oversight body for health regulatory colleges (funded by the colleges)
  • A reformed complaints process that increases accountability and transparency
  • A commitment to cultural safety and cultural humility
  • Improved information sharing and collaboration between regulatory colleges and with other agencies to enhance public safety and protection
  • Creation of an improved governance system where all regulatory college board members are appointed via a competency-based process

The news release also notes that the BC Government “will begin regulating counsellors”.

The BCACC is closely studying the tabled Health Professions and Occupations Act, and consulting with the Ministry of Health and other BC health regulatory colleges about the legislation. The BCACC will communicate with its members and other stakeholders as more information about the legislation is confirmed and we learn more about the regulation of clinical counsellors.

Estimated Timeline

During the first reading and debate of Bill-36 at the legislature, Minister Dix indicated that “in the case of the clinical counsellors, I believe we can do that work. They’ll be ready on close to day one, when the new system comes into effect and the new colleges come into effect to replace the existing system.”  In fact, the Minister made mention of “clinical counsellors” more than 10 times during those discussions. 

The five key initiatives the Ministry of Health must undertake to arrive at ‘day one’ include:

Finalizing the Health Professions and Occupations Act and any required regulation and bylaws changes.

The ongoing amalgamation of BC health regulatory colleges, including creation of the Regulatory College of Allied Health and Care Professionals (which clinical counsellors will join).

The establishment of the oversight commission and the appointment of a superintendent.

Preparing for the regulation of the diagnostic and therapeutic professions.

Preparing for the regulation of clinical counsellors.

It is our understanding that all 5 initiatives will be done concurrently and not serially.  This will greatly expedite the process for the regulation of clinical counsellors.  Based on what we know right now, the BCACC’s estimate is that it will still take 2-3 years before clinical counsellors are regulated under the Health Professions and Occupations Act, however, we are aware that may change as the government continues its work.

The BCACC will be an integral part of the regulation process

The BCACC will work with the Ministry of Health, the College of Psychologists of BC and other key stakeholders to expedite the regulatory process.  This will be accomplished by collaborating on the preparation of as many of the profession specific building blocks, required by the new college, as possible. Some of these may include: a member registry; entry requirements, standards of practice, registration processes; inquiry and complaint processes; a mandatory quality assurance program; a clear financial model; a new governance model; an organizational structure/staffing plan; a code of ethics; a labour mobility plan; a profession-specific regulation; a practitioner legacy plan; a jurisprudence exam; and education program recognition.

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