The province of P.E.I. is introducing new legislation that will enable it to regulate a large number of health professions not currently recognized.

Under current legislation there are 16 professions — such as doctors, nurses and dentists — regulated under 14 different acts. Rather than create a new act for each new profession not currently recognized — such as naturopaths, midwives and speech pathologists — the province is creating a single act capable of regulating them all.

"It's a big step forward and it's a positive step forward," said Nichola Hewitt, a lawyer with the Health and Wellness Department.

The new legislation will allow those professions to form their own government bodies, similar to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"We're setting out governance for the various colleges," said Hewitt.

"We're setting out licensing, discipline, appeal processes, and they'll be consistent across all the professions that are regulated under this particular legislation."

Naturopathic doctors have been looking for this kind of regulatory framework for years.

Seven other provinces already have similar legislation. The P.E.I. government expects the new legislation will resolve current challenges for establishing regulation for health professions. It is looking for public feedback on the proposal.

While the new legislation will not include professions that already have legislation on the books, governing bodies will be able to apply to move under the umbrella of the new act.

The act will be introduced in the legislature this fall.