The principle object of the OPFA, as set out in subsection 5(1) of the Professional Foresters Act, 2000 (the Act), is to regulate the practice of professional forestry and to govern its members in accordance with the Act, the regulations and the bylaws, in order that the public interest may be served and protected. As licensing legislation, the Act protects the public interest by, among other things, requiring that anyone who engages in or holds themselves out as able to engage in the practice of professional forestry must obtain a certificate of registration and comply with the standards and ethics of the profession. Persons who violate this requirement commit an offence under the Act. These persons may have certain technical skills and knowledge, but as long as they remain unregistered, they are immune from any kind of control or regulation by the OPFA, and are not subject to the discipline process if their conduct does not meet the standards or ethics of the profession. Allowing them to continue would defeat one of the main objectives of the Act in protecting the public interest.
The determination of whether an action or activity is within the scope of practice of professional forestry is a matter of professional judgement and must be exercised on a case by case basis. In making this judgement it is useful to compare the activity in question against some general principles or criteria that assist in identifying the extent to which “professional judgement” is required in carrying out the activity.
There are three options OPFA can take to prevent unregistered persons from engaging in the practice of professional forestry, or committing other offences under the Act. They are:
- alternative procedures;
- a prosecution; and
- a restraining order.