Registrar’s message—important updates to College Bylaws will affect many registrants

The College Bylaws act as a “rule book,” providing the foundation for sound and effective decision–making around the boardroom table. The Board is responsible for regularly reviewing the Bylaws, and, if necessary, revising, replacing or repealing them to ensure effective oversight of the profession. Any time a Bylaw amendment is proposed, the College is required to give notice to registrants and the public and post the amendment for three months, unless the minister of health specifies a shorter time frame, to give key stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. This is a critical phase in the drafting process. The feedback from the profession is especially useful as it provides insight into how the Bylaw amendment is being interpreted, and whether further clarification is needed. 

All feedback is considered by both the College and the Ministry of Health.

In the coming months, the College will be posting amendments to several different sections in the Bylaws. Two of the amendments in particular will affect many practising physicians, and I want to take this opportunity to make you aware of what is being proposed by the Board. 

Methadone Maintenance Program – sections 1-19 and 9-3 of the Bylaws made under the Health Professions Act, RSBC 1996, c.183

With the establishment of the BC Centre for Substance Use (BCCSU) announced last September, most components of the College’s current methadone program will transition to the centre, including authorizing exemptions to physicians who wish to prescribe methadone for opioid use disorder under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The BCCSU will assume full responsibility of the program on June 5, 2017.

This transition will allow the College to focus its efforts on the enhanced monitoring of all prescriptions for medications that pose challenges to patient safety. The College will continue to recommend to the federal minister of health authorizations to physicians who wish to prescribe methadone for analgesic purposes, and provide duplicate prescription pads through its usual ordering process.

To enable this change, the College is seeking to repeal the existing sections of the Bylaws that direct the Methadone Maintenance Program. The posting period for repealing the Bylaws commenced on February 7, 2017. More information can be found here.

Non-Hospital Medical and Surgical Facilities Program – part 5, section A, sections 5-1 to 5-20 of the Bylaws made under the Health Professions Act, RSBC 1996, c.183

Much has changed over the years in the way private non-hospital facilities operate, including modernized technology and facility infrastructure, more rigorous national and international standards and building codes, and increasing public expectations of transparency and accountability. The Non-Hospital Medical and Surgical Facilities Program section of the Bylaws was last revised in 2009 when the College transitioned under new legislation, and no longer reflect many of these advancements. 

Following consultation with representatives from the health authorities and the Ministry of Health, the College commenced a thorough review of part 5, section A of the Bylaws with a goal of updating the content based on current realities, and providing more specific and concise direction to physicians who work in private facilities. The College will be seeking to replace part 5, section A of the existing Bylaws with newly drafted content.

The posting period for the Non-Hospital Medical and Surgical Facilities Program section of the Bylaws is expected to occur prior to the May 2017 provincial election. 

We value and appreciate your feedback, and hope you will take part in the consultation process.

Heidi M. Oetter, MD
Registrar and CEO