Bill 22: An Act to Incorporate the Association of Registered Professional Foresters of New Brunswick

First reading of Bill 22: An Act to Incorporate the Association of Registered Professional Foresters of New Brunswick, was presented in the New Brunswick Provincial Legislature today, March 30th 2012, by PC Yvon Bonenfant MLA, Madawaska-les-Lacs.

Click the image above to download a copy of the Act as it was presented.

It is the opinion of the NBFTA that this legislation, if enacted, will prevent Forest Technicians from practicing forestry within New Brunswick. We have asked many people and organizations, including the Association of Registered Professional Foresters, to offer us an alternative interpretation of the Act which explicitly states:


25 No person shall practise professional forestry in New Brunswick, either privately or employed by another, unless registered to practise under the provisions of this Act and the by-laws.

To date no one has been able to offer us an alternative explanation.

7 thoughts on “Bill 22: An Act to Incorporate the Association of Registered Professional Foresters of New Brunswick”

  1. The Assistant Clerk of the Legislative Assembly notified me today to say that the Standing Committee on Private Bills is considering meeting on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 10:15 a.m. to discuss this bill. Individuals and organizations have option to schedule time to appear before the committee.

  2. Anyone can submit a letter of opposition to the committee before April 12. It is critical that we do this. The letters would be more powerful if we can get key stakeholders to submit letters. The letter must be addressed to :”Members of the Standing Committee on Private Bills”, regarding opposition to “Bill 22: An Act to Incorporate the Association of Registered Professional Foresters of New Brunswick.” I will be drafting the NBFTA letter to the Committee today.

  3. This letter was sent to Gareth Davies on March 22, 2012. Postings to the NBFTA after that date do not reflect the specific exclusion for technicians. The ARPFNB have not heard from the NBFTA. I am concerned that the NBFTA are furthering their own agenda.

    Hi Gareth,
    Thank you for your email of March 8, 2012.
    The Association of Registered Professional Foresters of New Brunswick (ARPFNB) presented to our Legislative Assembly a revised version of “An Act to Incorporate the Association of Registered Professional Foresters of New Brunswick”. The main objective of this new Act is to move from Right to Title as Registered Professional Foresters (RPF) to Right to Practice, for our members. This initiative provides protection for the public by ensuring the competency, independence, professional conduct and integrity of registered professional foresters who manage private and publicly-owned forest resources. It is important that all foresters be accountable for their actions.
    The proposed Act does not impose any requirements, restrictions or limitations on forest technicians or forest technologists who may be working within the practice of professional forestry as defined in the Act, and who are competent to do so by virtue of their education and training. There was never any intent under this proposed legislation to make college graduate forest technicians or technologists practising forestry, “illegal”. However, the Executive Committee of the ARPFNB has recently met and prepared an explicit exclusion for forest technicians and forest technologists answering your expressed concern on behalf of the NBFTA. This exclusion will be inserted into the Act as Section 52 (c).
    That prepared exclusion reads:
    “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent persons from performing work within the definition of the practice of professional forestry provided they are graduates of a forest technician or forest technology program acting within the scope of their training and competence,”
    It is our sincere belief that Right to Practice will achieve the high standards required in the practice of professional forestry for New Brunswick. The professional forestry associations in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec have had similar legislation for many years. In addition, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Saskatchewan are currently pursuing legislation with mandatory registration for foresters in their respective provinces. Under the federal Agreement on Internal Trade, RTP legislation for New Brunswick foresters would put us on an equal footing in terms of public interest and protection. In a competitive economy where professionals registered in one province are recognized as qualified in other provinces, this legislation eliminates barriers to the movement of professionals and practice in the forestry profession.
    Members of the ARPFNB place tremendous value on the great working relationship that foresters, forest technicians and forest technologists have always enjoyed. Members of the ARPFNB look forward to continue working together as a team for the best management of our forest resources.
    As this is being finalized through the legal process, the Executive Committee of the ARPFNB would very much appreciate the following:
    1) a letter of support from the NBFTA, to be posted on your website, and
    2) a letter to all recipients of your letter dated: January 23, 2012 outlining NBFTA support, and notifying recipients of the addition of the exclusion clause for forest technologists and forest technicians to the Act.
    We would like to ensure that any misconceptions surrounding this issue have been corrected. I personally have met with many stakeholders, either formally or informally since I have been the Executive Director. From my perspective, the association is addressing any concerns that comes to our attention. The ARPFNB has received several letters of support for this proposed legislation. All letters are being forwarded directly to the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honorable Bruce Northrup.
    Thank you for your attention in this matter, and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns or questions. If you would still like to meet, I am available most days, just give me a shout a day or two ahead.

  4. Dear NBFTA members,

    I prepared this letter (text in full follows) to Allie Degrace addressing specific concerns expressed; that we (the ARPFNB) failed to consult stakeholders, and that we did not receive letters of support.

    Mr. Allie Degrace

    March 22, 2012

    Dear Allie,

    Roland forwarded your e-mail with concerns about the proposed legislation regulating foresters in New Brunswick to the ARPFNB Executive Director, and I would like to respond to each of your concerns, providing background which I hope will clarify our actions and position.

    First of all, when ARPFNB members voted in January 2009 to allocate the considerable funds necessary to pursue the legislation, with the NBFTA interested and willing to work with us, we formed a work committee of volunteers from both associations, optimistically hoping to complete the project within two years time. We knew that if the project dragged on for longer, volunteers would reach the limit of their ability to commit time to the project and would have to be replaced. Also, elected positions to the Executive Committee for both associations have limits of one or two years, depending on the position, and few volunteers are able to extend their period of service. I mention this constraint because turnover of members working on the RTP project has resulted in some misunderstanding and subsequent miscommunication surrounding the legislation. Most of us do not work on a daily basis with legal language, and the entire process has been a learning experience for everyone who has served on the work committee and the Executive Committees over the last four years. Throughout the process, we have leaned heavily on the advice of our lawyer, David Norman, for the language in the legislation.

    Following the NBFTA withdrawal from the RTP initiative last year, the work committee added the exclusion clause for graduate forest technicians and forest technologists that appears in the draft document in the fall of 2011. We clearly understood our position: we have no intention to govern in any way the employment of graduate forest technicians and forest technologists. Mr. Norman advised us that the exclusion was unnecessary and redundant, since the legislation is clearly only intended to regulate foresters as defined in the Act. Therefore, the exclusion was deleted in the November 2011 draft of the Act. The work committee recently voted in favour of re-inserting the exclusion clause for graduate forest technicians and forest technologists, to make it absolutely clear that we have no intention of regulating the practice of graduate forest technicians and forest technologists. To make it perfectly clear: The Act before the Legislative Assembly has been amended to exclude graduate forest technicians and forest technologists in Section 52. This is the only specific objection or comment from the NBFTA received in the last year, and we have addressed the concern promptly, even though Mr. Norman assured us that the Act was clear in its interpretation of only applying to foresters defined in the Act as “a person who is a graduate of a degree granting forestry institution”.

    While we are trying to convey a consistent, clear message, we do acknowledge that changes in Executive Committee members and members on the RTP work committee has resulted in a misunderstanding with respect to Special Permits, as described in Steve Spears’ letter circulated earlier this month. In the bylaws drafted to accompany the new Act, Special Permits are designed for those people, who are not covered by any of the exclusions in the Act, and who are working within the definition of the practice of professional forestry. Issuance of Special Permits allows these people, many of whom have extensive practical experience in forestry but no formal training, to continue working as always. As we understood the Act, since graduate forest technicians and forest technologists were implicitly excluded from registration, Special Permits never applied to this category of forestry professionals. As we have now explicitly excluded graduate forest technicians and forest technologists from any provisions of the new Act, we hope that any misunderstanding surrounding this issue can be laid to rest.

    I wish to address your statement that “the Act was changed to meet the wishes of a large forestry company representative”. The Act was changed in response to feedback from several of our members, gathered at the 2011 AGM, and through numerous interactions between stakeholders concerned about moving to RTP, between January 2009 when we first embarked on the initiative, up to the present time. At the 2011 AGM, the definition of the practice of professional forestry was amended to narrow the categories of forestry professionals to which it would apply. Several members were concerned that the Act might be interpreted to require registration of those employees, particularly skilled forestry workers, who have no role in sustainable forest management as part of their employment.

    We knew, from the beginning of this process, that consultation, compromise and thoughtful consideration would be essential to the eventual success of the legislation. The Act has been amended at least half a dozen times since its original draft, in response to concerns or opinions solicited from all stakeholders, not just forestry companies or our members. Contrary to legal advice, we have circulated every draft of the Act as we progressed in order to keep our members, and any interested stakeholder, including the NBFTA, informed and aware of our direction, so that concerns could be raised and resolved at every stage of the development of the legislation. We have remained committed to an open, honest approach to drafting the legislation throughout the entire process. The fact that we did this may have made it appear that we are indecisive, too compromising, or are second-guessing the legislation. Let me be clear – members of the ARPFNB firmly support this initiative, and sincerely believe that it will raise the standards of forestry management in New Brunswick. Ethically, we are obligated to protect forest resources on behalf the public. As long as membership in our professional association is voluntary, we are unable to effectively carry out this responsibility. This new Act will do so, by requiring third party oversight of professional foresters who are responsible for the long term sustainability of the resource.

    We were disappointed when the NBFTA members voted to remove themselves from the process, and we have attempted to maintain open lines of communication to solicit input from any forest technician or forest technologist who may wish to comment on the Act, or the process. We have never received a clear explanation of how the scope of the Act was substantially changed by narrowing the definition, and have certainly never been provided specific feedback on what makes the Act, in your words, “completely unacceptable”. Since removing themselves from the process, the NBFTA has not provided us with any suggestions for the draft, barring the explicit exclusion clause, that would deal with issues that they felt rendered the Act unacceptable to their organization. Having been offered no specific comments or suggestions for improvement, the RTP work committee remains unable to respond to NBFTA members’ concerns. Indeed, the only objections relayed to us, through Roger Roy’s attendance at the NBFTA’s AGM in 2011, were that NBFTA members at the AGM were unwilling to continue with the legislation because the initiative had failed to receive any letters of support, and that we failed to consult “key stakeholders”. I must insist that this last objection is wholly incorrect. In late fall of 2009, I mailed out paper copies of the draft legislation, which formed much of the basis of the current version, to over 120 forestry-related organizations in New Brunswick, asking them to review and comment. I attended the AGMs for three wood products marketing boards where I spoke to over 200 private woodlot owners about RTP. I offered to speak at all the marketing board AGMs, but my offer was declined or ignored by four of them. I informed the Provincial Forestry Advisory Committee that the ARPFNB was pursuing this initiative, and also met with the NBFWO. The work committee has met with senior management at DNR. We have made every effort to consult any interested stakeholders at every stage in the process, offering repeatedly to meet with anyone, and responding to all concerns when they were forwarded to us.

    To specifically address Gareth’s claim that “Key stakeholders have not participated in the drafting of this proposed legislation”, I would ask the NBFTA to identify which key stakeholders have not been consulted. We are confident that we have reached out to anyone in the province who may have any interest in RTP. Our members come from every sector of forestry in New Brunswick, and, as forestry professionals, they are all key stakeholders. We’ve contacted woodlot owners, individually and through their organizations, all environmental groups in the province listed on public websites or in telephone books, all large and small industrial forest operations, individually and through the SFI committee and the NBFPA, MCFT, UNB and UMCE, First Nations councils, the Canadian Forestry Service, the NB Department of Natural Resources, and have repeatedly asked members to pass on the information to foresters who are not ARPFNB members, clearly the group who will be most affected by passage of the legislation. All we can do is make the offer, and from the paucity of response we can only assume that there is little concern about RTP from the vast majority of stakeholders, and that they feel that the Act will have no effect on their livelihoods or operations.

    Key stakeholders, if identified as those who would be most affected by the Act, are foresters, both RPFs and non-RPFs, who work within the definition of practice of professional forestry. We are confident that these stakeholders are well informed, have been given every opportunity to participate in drafting the legislation, and have done so.

    And finally, to address the NBFTA’s concern that we have received no letters of support for the RTP initiative. The most prevalent response I received when asking for such letters from stakeholders was that they were not willing to commit their support until a final version of the Act was at the stage of passage. In hindsight, it’s understandable that stakeholders would not provide written support for a draft that was incomplete, several years away from passage by MLAs, and may have needed substantial changes before submission to the Legislative Assembly. Broad-based support from our members, who, as noted, are employed in every sector of forestry in the province, has been our stalwart assurance since 1996, when the proposal was first approved by the ARPFNB. We have asked our members, and the general public to send letters supporting the initiative directly to the Premier, the Minister of Natural Resources, and their MLAs, now that the Act is listed for consideration.

    We agree with Gareth’s assertion that the proposed legislation is “of general public concern”. The public should be concerned that sustainable forestry, one of the most important economic drivers in the province, is in the hands of essentially unregulated professionals, with no requirement to ensure continuing competency in a rapidly-changing environment. With passage of this Act, the ARPFNB will accept the considerable responsibility of ensuring that foresters are accountable for the decisions they make that affect sustainable forest management, and are working in the interests of the public, to safeguard resources owned by the public.

    I hope that I have addressed your concerns. We trust that the addition of the exclusion clause for graduate forest technicians and forest technologists will assure the NBFTA, and any graduate forest technician and forest technologist working in the province, that the ARPFNB has no intention of regulating their work. If you have any specific suggestions to improve the Act, we welcome any and all comments, and will respond promptly. The RTP initiative has a strong mandate from members of the ARPFNB, verified year after year at each AGM since 1996 as the priority work project for the Association, and supported by considerable reserve funding coming directly from membership dues. We’re committed. We believe this is the right course of action for foresters in New Brunswick.

    Please contact me, or any member of the RTP work committee or ARPFNB Executive Committee, if you wish to discuss this matter further. We can be contacted through the office at (506) 452-6933.


    Jen Hacking, RPF
    On behalf of the ARPFNB
    RTP Work Committee

    I hope this clarifies the issue for all concerned NBFTA members.

  5. FACT: There is no exclusion clause for Forest Technicians and Technologists in Bill 22. It was there and the ARPFNB removed it.

    FACT: A broad range of Stakeholders were identified and agreed to by both Executives of the NBFTA and ARPFNB in 2009/2010. Letters of support were requested from these Stakeholders, none were received. Some letters of rejection were received.

    That is what led to the NBFTA rejecting Bill 22.

    At the end of the day the Stakeholders have overwhelmingly rejected Right to Practice in its current form.

  6. FACT: As noted in the letter (two comments above), the ARPFNB work committee voted to amend the Act to insert an exclusion clause for forest technicians and technologists. We are all volunteers working in this effort, with full time jobs in other areas. The exclusion clause WILL BE in the Act when it passes.

    FACT: All stakeholders in NB with any interest in forestry were contacted with respect to this legislation. Please read two comments above where I address this concern.

    FACT: The NBFTA has failed to identify one single stakeholder in the province who has not been contacted, or offered the chanco to comment.

    FACT: NO letters of rejection were received. Two letters expressing concern were received, and these concerns have been addressed.

  7. In response to Jen Hackings letter above.

    My concerns were conveyed in private e-mails with a member of the ARPFNB and I did not give permission for anything to be displayed in a public forum, and I will not write an essay in response.

    My response will be addressed to the standing committee on Private Bills.

    I have been involved in the RTP movement since it was first introduced to the NBFTA at Silvicon in Fredericton many years ago, and supported the initiative openly for many years when it actually meant to do what it claimed.

    The NBFTA was very open with their reasons for removing themselves from the joint venture, and these reasons were explained to ARPFNB president Roger Roy at our AGM.

    In closing I will point out that if this act is so desperately needed to protect the public interest of New Brunswickers and their forests, why is the ARPFNB introducing a private bill and not a public bill, could it be that a public bill was rejected only a few years back?

    I am proud of the manner in which foresters, forest technicians, and other forestry professionals have cared for our province’s resources for so long, and I believe that if we were not occupied with attempts to force professionals to join associations in order to continue to do the jobs they have always done, we could use our energy to promote our professions and our Natural Resources.

    Allie DeGrace,
    Certified Forest Technician
    Woodlot Owner
    Graduate of Maritime Forest Ranger School

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *