What members want to know about PEAK

One of the most crucial elements of PEO’s rollout of the Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program is communicating with licence holders exactly what is at stake.

In fact, an entire communications campaign, including Engineering Dimensions articles, the creation of a new microsite (www.peopeak.ca), social media posts and chapter presentations, is devoted to getting the word out there.

The PEAK program, the Continuing Professional Competence Program (CP)2 Task Force and its previous incarnation, the Continuing Professional Development, Competence and Quality Assurance (CPDCQA) Task Force, have featured prominently at major PEO gatherings since the Elliot Lake inquiry into the 2012 Algo Centre Mall collapse put the spotlight on engineers’ professional development efforts. PEO’s 36 chapters have also been engaged to spread the details on the PEAK program at the local level, and PEO staff and volunteers, including Registrar Gerard McDonald, P.Eng., and (CP)2 Task Force Chair Annette Bergeron, P.Eng., FEC, have travelled the province over the last 24 months informing members of the program’s requirements.

Complementing these traditional information channels, PEO’s policy and professional affairs department, in concert with the (CP)2 Task Force, have fielded a number of questions from members about basic elements of the program. What follows is a selection of the most commonly heard questions PEO has received from members at large concerning the PEAK program.

Q: What happens if I refuse to complete any of the three parts of the program after March 31, 2017?
A: This fact will be indicated on the licence holder’s public, online profile. There will be no change in your licence status.

Q: I see the PEAK program comes into effect on March 31, 2017 and one must complete the different components prior to licence renewal each year. My annual licence renewal date is May 1—only one month after the program goes live. I can complete the questionnaire and ethics module in time, but depending on the number of recommended hours of professional development that comes out of my questionnaire responses, completing these hours might not be feasible in one month’s time. What should I do?
A: Starting March 31, 2017, fee renewal notices will direct licence holders to complete the PEAK program by their licence renewal date. The first renewal notices being sent will be for those whose renewals occur in June. It is the June renewals that will be the first to complete the PEAK program. Licence holders will always have about six to seven weeks to complete the practice evaluation questionnaire and ethics module. You will actually be in the second-to-last group of the first year. The first fee renewal notice you will receive after the program goes live will be around February 2018. You will have from then until April 31, 2018 to complete the PEAK program questionnaire and ethics module.

Q: I am a member of the British Columbia and Manitoba engineering regulators as well as PEO. Under its Pro Development program, Manitoba requires members to complete 240 continuing professional development hours every three years. Do I need to comply with the PEAK program in Ontario? If yes, why?
A: First off, PEO accepts professional knowledge activities completed in another province or with another regulator. For example, if you have completed professional knowledge activities and applied them to your CPD requirement in another province, you can count the same activities in Ontario. For instance, if the PEAK program recommends that you should commit 20 hours to continuing knowledge activities, you do not have to do 80 hours for Alberta and another 20 hours for Ontario. Twenty hours of those counted in Alberta can be applied to your Ontario requirement. However, it’s important to note that PEO, unlike other provinces, considers only technical learning opportunities [formal learning (university or other classroom courses), informal learning (conferences, seminars) and contributions to knowledge] as acceptable activities.

Q: I am already participating in the mandatory Ordre des ingénieurs du Quebec (OIQ) system of 30 hours CPD every two years. What are my obligations vis-á-vis PEO?
A: At this time there is no mandatory continuing knowledge requirement in Ontario. The PEAK program provides a recommendation for the number of hours a licence holder should commit to continuing knowledge activities in the upcoming year. However, as this is not mandatory, licence holders do not have to comply with the recommendation.

PEO is encouraging licence holders who have undertaken continuing knowledge activities to enter this information into the reporting module, which will be available beginning April 1, 2017. Continuing knowledge activities that were taken to comply with a mandatory program in another province, or for a technical certification, can be counted towards the number of hours recommended in Ontario.

Q: Please advise how this program affects a “retired” engineer.
A: There are three parts to the PEAK program. The first part is a data collection module called the practice evaluation questionnaire. The first question in this questionnaire is “Are you practising or non-practising?” If you are retired and are no longer practising professional engineering, you can select the non-practising option. Once you have identified as non-practising, you do not have to complete the remainder of the questionnaire. In addition, you will not be given a recommended number of hours to commit to continuing knowledge activities, and you will not have to report any continuing knowledge activities.

As long as you retain your licence and remain a member of PEO, you will still have to complete an annual ethics refresher course online, even if you are retired. This is necessary because several retired members have been complained against and have been subject to PEO’s discipline process for taking actions that were contrary to the Professional Engineers Act.

Q: Where is the ethics refresher course held? When and how much will it cost?
A: The ethics refresher will be a free online module that licence holders can access at a time of their convenience. The module will be comprised of videos and other teaching materials. There is no cost associated with the ethics refresher course.

Q: What options are available to a licence holder who is currently not employed in the engineering field, but does not want to declare themselves as “non-practising”? Can an individual maintain their ability to practise by completing a certain number of education hours based on future or potential employment opportunities (i.e. upcoming or potential contract opportunities)?
A: Because the PEAK program is collecting data regarding your current status, if you are not employed in the engineering field you should designate yourself as “non-practising.” This will make no difference to your ability to practise. However, if you become employed in an engineering position during the year after completing the PEAK questionnaire, you will simply identify yourself as practising when you complete the questionnaire at your next licence renewal. There is no requirement to complete a certain number of education hours based on future employment opportunities.

Q: I like that the PEAK program recognizes contributions to sharing knowledge and not just gaining or enhancing knowledge. If PEO creates a knowledge-sharing forum, it would best be implemented from the beginning, in my opinion. As professionals, we have a foundation of trust and commitment to excellence that would facilitate the quality of information being shared. Are there plans to create such a forum?
A: PEO will not have a portal or make any recommendations regarding specific professional education offerings. We are leaving this to practitioners to find the educational activities that are most relevant to themselves.