Second Reading - Bill 100
(27 November 2017)

From Hansard - 27 November 2017

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Bill 100 — The Agrologists Amendment Act, 2017

Hon. Mr. Stewart: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, at the end of my remarks I will move second reading of The Agrologists Act, 2017.

Mr. Speaker, Saskatchewan was a pioneer in 1946 when we became only the second jurisdiction in Canada after Quebec to regulate the profession of agrology. Mr. Speaker, we want to be in the forefront again as we modernize and update the Act. The last significant amendments to the Act occurred in 1994, and much has changed in agriculture and in the profession of agrology since.

As such, the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists, the SIA — which was created by the Act in 1946 — has asked for updated legislation, and the SIA and its members support these proposed changes.

The government, in conjunction with the SIA, undertook significant consultation to ensure there was broad stakeholder support to the legislation. We talked to top employers of agrologists. We talked to the educational institutes that train agrologists. We talked to the institutes of agrology in other provinces. We talked to provincial ministries and agencies, such as Saskatchewan Environment and the Water Security Agency. We also talked with other provinces to ensure there would be no labour mobility problems for agrologists accredited in other provinces.

There was general support for our proposals. Saskatchewan Environment supports the amendments because the proposed new definition of “practise agrology” would allow more qualified persons to deliver services under the Saskatchewan Environmental Code.

Mr. Speaker, let me detail our proposed amendments and the rationale. The proposed changes will broaden the definition of “practise agrology” to reflect the fact that more and more agrologists are working in areas related to bioresources and the environment. The new definition will align with certifications provided through agricultural post-secondary institutions that go beyond training in primary agriculture. The University of Saskatchewan, for example, now offers undergraduate degrees in agriculture, agribusiness, animal bioscience, and renewable resource management. This new definition will also be consistent with most other provinces, thus supporting interprovincial labour mobility.

The bill also broadens the academic requirements necessary to become a certified member of the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists. Previously one needed a university or college degree in agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan or equivalent to become a member of the SIA. The amendment changes the requirements to a four-year university or college degree or equivalent in agriculture or bioresources. This amendment also gives the SIA the discretion to determine on their own what education and training programs they recognize.

It’s also proposed to add a new provision to the Act that would allow the SIA to issue a restricted licence to practise to persons with less than a four-year degree, in other words, a college diploma. This supports interprovincial labour mobility as Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario allow diploma graduates in agriculture to practise independently with restrictions.

The bill proposes to increase the number of public appointees to the SIA council from one to two. A second public appointee will help manage the workload and ensure that council and committee work proceeds in a timely fashion.

It’s also proposed to remove the deputy minister of Agriculture as an ex officio member of the SIA council. The deputy minister’s presence on council is redundant as the SIA regularly reports to the ministry, and the government’s public appointee positions also provide oversight.

We also propose to give the dean of the University of Saskatchewan College of Agriculture and Bioresources the option of appointing an official representative on the council. The dean of Agriculture’s busy schedule may not allow attendance at every meeting. Instead of not attending, the dean would have the option of appointing a representative to attend on her or his behalf.

Another amendment being proposed is to allow the SIA to enact administrative bylaws for other matters deemed necessary for the effective administration of the institute. The SIA is a long-standing professional body in this province. There is no reason why the provincial legislature needs to be involved in overseeing the administrative changes to its bylaws.

It’s also proposed to remove the requirement that professional engineers, geoscientists, and forestry workers be members of the SIA. There are some areas of an agrologist’s practice that can overlap the areas of practice of engineers, geoscientists, and forestry workers. The SIA has had discussions with the engineering, geoscience, and forestry professional associations and is happy to exempt these professional groups from the need for SIA accreditation.

We also want to make it easier for the SIA to serve documents. Accordingly we are proposing another new provision to the Act that would allow SIA to serve documents indirectly via a substitutional service as well as directly through personal service or registered mail.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned at the beginning of this speech, a lot has changed in agriculture, agrology, and society since the Act was last amended in 1994. The way people communicate has changed considerably in that time and the language in the existing Act does not accommodate the new world of electronic communication. Currently the Act requires that the SIA conduct all official communication with its members through the mail. Electronic communication is much more efficient and inexpensive. It’s time to bring the Act into the digital age. The bill will also enable the SIA to determine via its bylaws how it will communicate with its members.

And finally, it is proposed to replace the term “membership certification” in the legislation with “licence.” “Licence” is the term the SIA itself uses. This is also the term used in the model professions Act and by other professional bodies, for example, nursing and engineering.

Mr. Speaker, taken together, these amendments to The Agrologists Act will ensure the Act is relevant to the current practice of agrology in Saskatchewan. They will support agrologists’ labour mobility across Canada. They will ensure the public continues to be protected in matters related to agrology, and they will improve the internal administration of the SIA. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I move that The Agrologists Act, 2017 be read a second time.

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