Patients the focus of new health legislation

Press Release

Oct. 19, 2022

VICTORIA – Patient safety will be enhanced, oversight of health regulatory colleges strengthened and governance of health professionals improved with ground-breaking legislation.

“Our government is making the most significant changes to oversight of regulated health professions in British Columbia’s history,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “These changes will streamline the process to regulate new health professions, provide stronger oversight, provide more consistent discipline across the professions, act in the public interest and protect patient care in the province, while also laying the groundwork to further reduce the total number of regulatory colleges.”

The Health Professions and Occupations Act replaces its predecessor, the Health Professions Act. The act enables the creation of a new oversight body, an independent discipline tribunal and a reformed complaints process that increases accountability and transparency, protects people in vulnerable circumstances, and creates a commitment to cultural safety and humility, and a new way to regulate lower-risk health occupations.

The legislation will simplify and streamline the process for regulating new professions. Government will begin regulating counsellors and then diagnostic and therapeutic professionals, and will continue finalizing the amalgamation of colleges from 15 to six. One amalgamation will combine the colleges for dietitians, occupational therapists, opticians, optometrists, physical therapists, psychologists, and speech and hearing professionals into one regulator. The other amalgamation will combine the colleges for chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopathic physicians, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncturists.

The Ministry of Health has made progress ahead of the legislation by reducing the number of regulatory colleges. In October 2020, B.C.’s three nursing colleges were amalgamated into one; in September 2021, the nursing college was amalgamated with the College of Midwives, and the College of Physician and Surgeons was amalgamated with the College of Podiatrists. In September 2022, B.C.’s four oral-health colleges, which included dentists, dental assistants, dental therapists, denturists, dental hygienists and dental technicians, were amalgamated into one regulatory college.

There are 15 health colleges under the act providing a regulatory framework for 25 health professions.

The legislation is partly in response to concerns raised in a report published in 2019 by Harry Cayton, former chief executive of the United Kingdom’s Professional Standards Authority, who was appointed by the Minister of Health to review the Health Professions Act and its regulations and to make recommendations.

The changes also reflect some of the key recommendations of the 2020 In Plain Sight Report: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care, and further implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Action Plan. As well, the amendments fulfil recommendations made by the multi-party Steering Committee on Modernization of Health Professional Regulation, which was co-chaired by Dix; Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country; and Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley.

“I thank all of those who provided input on these changes, including people around B.C., health-care workers, my legislative colleagues Norm Letnick and Sonia Furstenau, and Indigenous leaders, who helped to create the priorities addressed in the legislation being brought to the house for consideration,” added Dix.

Learn More:

For the Harry Cayton report, An Inquiry into the performance of the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia and the Health Professions Act, visit:

For the Steering Committee on Modernization of Health Professional Regulation recommendations report, visit:

Two backgrounders follow.


Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)


Health Professions and Occupations Act

The legislation enables:

  • Streamlined path to reduce the number of regulatory colleges through amalgamation: Under the Health Professions and Occupations Act, amalgamations will continue. The new legislation builds on the previous process of amalgamation, streamlining and making it more effective. This will ultimately reduce the number of regulatory colleges, enhance their ability to regulate and make it less confusing for patients as to which college they direct their complaints to.
  • Creation of an oversight body: The oversight body will promote accountability, transparency and consistency across regulatory colleges. The oversight body will conduct routine audits of regulatory colleges, set standards for regulatory colleges on policy and practice, investigate regulatory colleges when necessary, and make recommendations to the minister on potential candidates for health professions or occupations to be regulated under the act. The oversight body will also process and investigate complaints about regulatory colleges’ actions and policies, the act and the respective regulations.
  • Improved transparency around complaints: The complaints and adjudication system will have a new discipline process that separates the investigation stage, which will remain with colleges, and the discipline stage, which will be supported by the oversight body. Information about all agreements made between colleges and registrants will be public. Colleges will fund counselling for victims of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct, and victims will be able to recover costs from registrants who harm.
  • Commitment to cultural safety and humility: A new, proactive approach and significant step forward to eliminate discrimination in B.C.’s health-care system. Regulated health professionals and regulated occupations under the act will be required to embed anti-discrimination measures in the delivery of health-care services. Discrimination will be a form of professional misconduct or actionable conduct, which will require regulatory colleges to take action against professionals and occupations when they discriminate against others.
  • Information sharing: Colleges will be able to share information more easily between each other and with other agencies to enhance public safety and protection.
  • Improved governance: Shifting away from the election of registrant board members, the legislation will create a system where all board members are appointed via a competency-based process. This will ensure board members do not feel beholden to the people who elected them.


Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)


Colleges and number of registrants

BC College of Nurses and Midwives: 66,746

  • licensed practical nurses: 15,253
  • midwives: 513
  • nurse practitioners: 825
  • registered nurses: 46,721
  • registered psychiatric nurses: 3,434

BC College of Oral Health Professionals: 15,989

  • certified dental assistants: 6,566
  • dental hygienists: 4,328
  • dental surgeons: 4,030
  • dental technicians: 347
  • dental technician assistants: 444
  • denturists: 267
  • dental therapists: 7

College of Chiropractors of BC: 1,426
College of Dietitians of BC: 1,468
College of Massage Therapists of BC: 5,488
College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC: 14,639

  • physicians and surgeons: 14,564
  • podiatric surgeons: 75

College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC: 860
College of Occupational Therapists of BC: 2,772
College of Opticians of BC: 997
College of Optometrists of BC: 876
College of Pharmacists of BC: 8,164

  • pharmacists: 6,477
  • pharmacy technicians: 1,687

College of Physical Therapists of BC: 4,008
College of Psychologists of BC: 1,402
College of Speech and Hearing Professionals of BC: 1,911

  • audiologists: 306
  • hearing-instrument practitioners: 524
  • speech-language pathologists: 1,343

College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturists of BC: 2,567


Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

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