Professional Regulation

In British Columbia, there are 26 regulated health professions, of which 25 are governed by 18 regulatory colleges under the Health Professions Act. The act provides a common regulatory framework for health professions in British Columbia.

One profession (emergency medical assisting) is regulated by a government-appointed licensing board under a separate statute.

Many social workers also practice within the health system. Social workers are a self-regulating profession governed by a regulatory college under the Social Workers Act.

A health regulator’s (college’s) legal obligation is to protect the public through the regulation of their registrants.  They do this by:

  • determining registration requirements
  • setting standards of practice
  • recognizing education programs
  • maintaining a register that everyone can search, and
  • addressing complaints about their registrants

Colleges are required to review all complaints about the health professionals they regulate, including both current and former registrants. Colleges may conduct an investigation into a complaint, and in serious matters may refer the complaint for disciplinary action.

If you have a concern or complaint about a health professional you can visit the college’s website to learn about their complaints process. Complaints should be in writing and describe a specific concern about the conduct, competence, or physical or mental impairment of an individual health professional. Links to each regulatory college website can be found on the profession specific pages to the left.

The Ministry of Health cannot investigate specific complaints about health professionals, as colleges are independent organizations that have been given legal authority to do so.

Regulating Health Professions –  Modernization

From Nov. 27, 2019 to Jan. 10, 2020 members of the public, community groups and health-sector stakeholders were invited to submit feedback on the proposals in the consultation paper titled Modernizing the provincial health profession regulatory framework: A paper for consultation (PDF, 1.0MB). Feedback was accepted via an online survey and written submissions. Read the What We Heard report (PDF, 489KB) for a summary of engagement results.

On August 27, 2020, the Steering Committee on Modernization of Health Professional Regulation released its Recommendations to modernize the provincial health profession regulatory framework (PDF, 669KB). Feedback from the consultation assisted the steering committee to finalize these recommendations for improving the model of health profession regulation in B.C. View a diagram (PDF, 44KB) of how the recommendations would change current health professions regulation.

The steering committee was established to provide advice on an approach to modernize the regulatory framework for health professions, following an inquiry into the operations of B.C.’s College of Dental Surgeons, and the Health Professions Act.

Inquiry into the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia

In April 2019, the Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, released the report, An Inquiry into the Performance of the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia and the Health Professions Act. The report is authored by Mr. Harry Cayton of the United Kingdom’s Professional Standards Authority. The report contains two parts:

  • Part 1 makes recommendations to College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia; and,
  • Part 2 suggests possible approaches to modernization of BC’s overall health regulatory framework.

Media Briefing (PPTX, 715KB)

Signed Directive from the Minister of Health (PDF, 570KB)

Harry Cayton's report can be viewed here (PDF, 1.0MB).

For the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry, click here.

In response to the suggestions outlined in Part Two of the Cayton report, Minister Dix established and chairs the Steering Committee on Modernization of Health Professional Regulation.

During an initial phase of public consultation, members of the public and health sector stakeholders were invited to provide written feedback on Part Two of the Cayton report.

A summary of themes from the initial public engagement which closed June 14, 2019 can be viewed here (PDF, 116KB).