Your APB Voice

The President's Blog  

Reflections on the APB Vision and Beyond
By Mark Thompson, MSc, MEd, RPBio, President, Association of Professional Biology.

Making a difference through advocacy

One of the roles of the Association of Professional Biology (APB) is to advance the application, practice and understanding of biological sciences in an objective, professional manner.  The APB is unique in its ability to advocate on behalf of biology professionals, allowing  our member’s voice to be represented as part of our dialogue with external parties including other professional associations, industry and various levels of government.

Through advocacy the APB:

  • Demonstrates leadership to the public, its members and other professions;
  • Increases general understanding of the benefits of employing Biology Professionals;
  • Encourages the development and application of sound biological principles in the management and conservation of resources;
  • Informs and advises decision makers and the public of the potential impacts of land use and resource development on BC’s biological resources;
  • Promotes legislation governing the profession as a means of ensuring Biology Professionals maintain competency and accountability.

The APB Policy on Advocacy provides the criteria and defines the process for the Association when it engages in advocacy. While there may be many issues and opportunities of interest to individual members, the APB restricts its advocacy efforts to those consistent with the Association’s mission and purpose.

Introducing the APB Rapid Response Team!

Working for Biology Professionals is at the core of what the APB does. In June 2017 the APB sent out a request for member interest to help breathe new life into our advocacy file.  Members with expertise in various fields of applied biology agreed to volunteer their time and expertise, and assist the APB in crafting position statements.   A number of members from diverse expertise backgrounds stepped forward to form what became nicknamed the APB’s “Rapid Response Team.

The first effort by the APB Rapid Response Team, focused on the Province of BC’s proposed new wildlife agency was issued July 12, 2017

See the press release and the response.

Moving forward –Results of the APB Members Survey on Advocacy

There are numerous issues that the APB could take on and engage the Rapid Response Team in responding to.

To be effective, requires ongoing engagement and consultation with our membership.  In August 2017, the Members Survey on Advocacy was launched allowing members to provide feedback and perspectives on priority issues and broad policy areas. There was also an opportunity for members to convey their expectations on the nature and scope that the APB’s advocacy should take.   The results of the survey were synthesized in September and will inform the advocacy pathway and focus for the Association moving forward.

The APB Press Room

Scroll down for the complete APB archive and most recent advocacy actions through our Press Room.

 

APB Responds to independent review of BC’s Review of Professional Reliance in Natural Resource Decision-Making

The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change released an independent final report on June 28th, 2018 that is said to provide a “Review of Professional Reliance in Natural Resource Decision-Making”. This report puts the professional reliance model under scrutiny as there has been a purported loss in public confidence in the process.

The APB has prepared a briefing to its members and a Press Release on the recent Professional Reliance Review.   This is an important development that will have implications in the way the province will direct the management of the provinces natural resources.  The professional reliance approach was developed as a means to position qualified professionals on the front lines of assessment and development. They are tasked with the management and stewardship of the provinces environment while navigating through the regulations and permits in relation to the work, contractors, government representatives, and other professions. Professional regulatory bodies established Codes of Ethics and periodically audits their members to ensure oversight in the profession. Science is one of the cornerstones of our ethics in practice. It arms us with an impartial view of each situation so that we can monitor, collect data, systematically analyze, and present our findings to inform practice, to ensure compliance with the law, and to make decisions based on reliable evidence.

There are several recommendations within the professional reliance review that the APB finds promising. The unique advocacy service that only the APB can provide for professional biologists is recognized in the report. However, the APB is concerned that the matter of science and its role in professional reliance has not being addressed in the review process. It is our plan to remain engaged on these matters and to have our voice heard as the government plans to further consult stakeholders before taking action on the recommendations.

See APB Briefing on Professional Reliance Review   and Press Release on Professional Reliance Review_July 2018

APB Advises Government on Bill C-68 Fisheries Act Amendments

The Association of Professional Biology would like to thank Fisheries and Oceans Canada for providing a special briefing on Bill C-68 and inviting us to provide comments.  We look forward to continued engagement and opportunities for input as Bill C-68 moves toward implementation of a revised Fisheries Act.

See APB Response – Bill C68 Fisheries Act Amendments – June 2018.

APB comments on the Professional Reliance Model in British Columbia

The BC government requested from professional organizations to consult with their members and provide input on the Professional Reliance Model.  It was critical that the province receive a collective submission that reflected interests not just from the bodies legislated to oversee the various professions, but from the community of biology professionals as well.

Comments from the APB are based on results from the January 2018 internal member’s survey on Professional Reliance.  Thank you to the many members who provided a wide range of feedback.   The APB’s position is that the professional reliance model has merit, in principle, if fundamental challenges with the current system can be addressed effectively and cooperatively.  See Survey Results and Comments on Professional Reliance in BC.

APB Responds Positively to a Request from the BC Government to Discuss Opportunities to Work Together on Key Environmental Priorities

In August 2017 the BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Mr. George Heyman, contacted the APB by letter and by phone to discuss opportunities to work together on key environmental priorities, and build a cooperative relationship.  The APB is pleased the provincial government recognizes our unique position in guiding a dialogue with members, affiliated professional associations and other external parties on timely issues. This is a step forward for the Association to inform and advise the government of the potential impact of policy and legislation on biological resources, as well as advocate for science in decision making.  See Letter from Minister Heyman and APB Response to Minister Heyman.

APB comments on proposed Grizzly Bear Hunting Regulations in BC

The BC government has requested input from wildlife conservation stakeholders and the public on new, proposed grizzly bear regulations. As part of our follow up to the future of wildlife management in BC, the APB’s advocacy rapid response provided comments and recommendations to manage this species following scientifically-defensible approaches to ensure the sustainability of grizzly bear populations across the province. Inout is being accepted until November 2 2017. See Comments on Grizzly Bear Hunting Regulations.

APB comments on the future of wildlife management in BC

The APB sent a letter to the newly formed provincial government over our concerns on the future of wildlife management in BC.  The APB feels this is an issue that should concern all British Columbians. See Comments on Proposed Wildlife Management Agency and APB Wildlife Agency Response Letter Press Release 12072017.

APB signs the Science Pledge

The Association of Professional Biology has a commitment to raise a voice on behalf of you our members. It is our role to address policy decisions or actions (and conversely inaction) that result in an environment where the ability of our members is to work effectively and responsibly is impacted. Examples include our response to the federal Bill C-38 (amendments to the Federal Fisheries Act) and subsequent meeting with federal representatives in Ottawa, or our testimony on a number of provincial task forces and review panels.

While our focus is at the provincial level, these actions reflect that there are times when there is a need to align ourselves on issues that go beyond BC’s borders. The national advocacy organization Evidence for Democracy opened a call for individuals and organizations to show their support by signing on to a national Science Pledge, committing to support actions that put evidence before politics to uphold the security, health, and prosperity of all Canadians. The APB does not generally get involved in issue specific campaigns of this nature. However the APB Board and Executive felt that the “Science Pledge” reflected a high level of complementarity to the mission and purpose of the Association as well as the core obligations and responsibilities of our profession to protect the public interest.

With the increasing reliance on professional due diligence, the ever-changing regulatory landscape and increasing stressors on our biosphere we felt the pledge has come at a timely juncture in the work of the APB.  The APB has signed the pledge:”… all Canadians benefit when governments solicit, collect and use the evidence and expertise needed to make smart policy decisions that safeguard the health, safety and prosperity of Canadians. [We] support actions that invest in public-interest science; ensure open, honest and timely communication of scientific information; and make public the evidence considered in government decisions.”

Professional Leadership in a Changing Climate: Joint Statement

As national controversy about how to address climate change continues, four of BC’s professional associations, representing more than 9,000 forest professionals, professional biologists and technologists, and professional planners, released a joint statement on July 8th recognizing that “climate change is occurring and it has fundamental impacts on British Columbia’s communities and ecosystems.” This is the first time anywhere in the world that a joint statement of this kind has been released by professional associations, and recognizes the role and responsibility of the associations and their members in addressing climate change.

Climate Change_Joint Statement

APB presents to Special Committee on Timber Supply

On July 10th, 2012 our Past President Pamela Zevit presented on behalf of the APB to the Special Committee on Timber Supply Legislative Assembly. Please see the attached Position Paper on Timber Supply.

APB provides input into the use of “Qualified Professionals”

Recently the APB participated in the Professional Reliance Challenge Dialogue.  Following the receipt of the various feedback on the Challenge Paper, and the workshop that was held on March 14 in Richmond, Terje Vold, Warren Mitchell,  and the Professional Reliance Cross-Ministry Working Group revised the draft framework and opportunity assessment tool based on that input.  One of the revisions was to change the name of the framework and tool,  to better reflect the full scope of qualified persons that may play a role in the administration of natural resource activities.

For your information, these are the final products from the Challenge Dialogue process.

  1. Draft  Framework for the Use of Qualified Persons

 

This is provided as a draft for further discussion and development.

  1. Use of Qualified Persons:  Opportunity Assessment Tool

 

This is “version 1.0” of a guide to identifying opportunities for the use of qualified persons.

  1. Consolidated Feedback

 

This document includes all comments received on the Challenge Paper, organized by the questions posed in the paper.  It is useful to provide an understanding of the range of perspectives on, issues with, and interests in the use of qualified persons.

The APB recently provided advice on the proposed changes to environmental legislation in Bill-38. Specifically the APB recommends the following:

1. Remove all the environmental components from the current Bill-38 and provide an appropriate time period for a scientific panel to provide unbiased detailed recommendations to assist government with improving these components;

  • additionally, since SARA is designed for cooperation between the Federal and Provincial governments, obtain input by the interministerial Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council on this aspect of the proposed changes prior to enactment; and

 

2. include an appropriately qualified Registered Professional Biologist on the scientific panel.

We will also be contacting the offices of the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Honourable Peter Kent and Honourable Joe Oliver to arrange for formal meetings with the APB.

APB Submission- Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Study

The APB was recently invited to appear before the “Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Study”  to provide recommendations regarding the development of a National Conservation Plan. Our submission, provide by Past President, Pamela Zevit can be found here.

The Committee decided to undertake a study to provide recommendations regarding the development of a National Conservation Plan and will be travelling in May 2012 in order to hear from stakeholders and individuals whose on-the-ground efforts are addressing a wide number of issues in various ecosystem types across the country as well as hear from people directly involved in conservation efforts. Further details on the project can be found here.

APB Advises Government on Fisheries Act – 2012

This submission is on behalf of the Association of Professional Biology (APB) regarding proposed changes to Section 35 of the Fisheries Act.

APB response to MOE’s “Environmental Mitigation and Offsetting Policy for BC: A Discussion Paper”

This submission is on behalf of the Association of Professional Biology (Est’d 1980).The APB represents its members’ general interests and perspectives on the topic of mitigation and offsetting and requests that this submission be reviewed as such.

APB Comments on the Report of the BC Task Force on Species at Risk

The Association of Professional Biology (APB) appreciates the opportunity to provide additional feedback to government regarding the BC Species at Risk Task Force. Our original feedback from November 2010 was submitted prior to the release of the Task Force’s January 31st, 2011 report and is appended to that report. Ultimately, the key to successful conservation of species at risk is implementation of strategies that are founded in science with objectives understood by everyone involved. Avoiding the creation of new at-risk species must also be a tenet of any policy.

APB Submission to the Species at Risk Task Force

In August 2009, Premier Gordon Campbell announced in the speech from the throne that the Province will establish a task force on Species at Risk. The Species at Risk Task Force will provide recommendations to the B.C. government to help it update its vision for the conservation of species and ecosystems at risk and ensure British Columbia remains a leader in environmental sustainability.