The President's Blog
By Mark Thompson, MSc, MEd, RPBio, President, Association of Professional Biology.
Our Future, Our Practice, Our Rights, and Objective Reality of Scientific Projections
President's Blog April 2019
Reflections on the APB Vision and Beyond
President's Blog - February 2019
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
- 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.
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 provides feedback on the proposed Professional Governance Act.
See APB Letter on Proposed Professional Governance Act sent to Mr. George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
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 2017.
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
Professional Leadership in a Changing Climate: Joint Statement
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_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 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.
- Draft Framework for the Use of Qualified Persons
This is provided as a draft for further discussion and development.
- Use of Qualified Persons: Opportunity Assessment Tool
This is “version 1.0” of a guide to identifying opportunities for the use of qualified persons.
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.
APB advises government on Bill-38
The APB recently provided advice on the proposed changes to
environmental legislation in Bill-38. Specifically the APB recommends
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
- 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
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.