Remaining self-regulated

I enjoy reading each issue of Engineering Dimensions. I want to take this opportunity to make some comments regarding PEO’s status as a self-regulating profession. These comments are based on information presented in the July/August 2017 issue.

On page 24, there was a notice that PEO celebrated its 95th anniversary as the regulator of engineering in Ontario. In the early 20th century, engineering was one of many trades that participated in a “professional” movement that led to the initiation of regulation and licensing. These professions sought to elevate their status and control both the admittance and the conduct of their members. This movement was partly in response to the rapidly changing society of the time; changes that were the result of the growth of industry and cities, supported by large-scale technical developments (electricity, infrastructure, transportation, etc.).  

On page 9, it was reported that a motion was presented at the AGM calling for “PEO to engage an external governance expert to advise Council on modernizing its operations to protect self-regulatory status.” This motion will be further deliberated by Council. Our new president (p. 28) is “also concerned about the increasing government scrutiny on all self-regulating professions.” Further, a report on the Elliot Lake trial (p. 17) quoted a statement by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers that says, “We encourage action on ongoing continued improvements that will help reinstate the public’s confidence in the profession.”

Engineering remains one of the most invisible professions in the province, and I repeatedly hear that the majority of engineering graduates do not apply for a licence as they see little value in the P.Eng. designation as it exists today.

I am not sure what the past 95 years of self-regulation have accomplished.

It is natural for an established community to resist change, but I was wondering if any readers could offer a concise, rational answer to this question: Why, in 2017 or beyond, should engineering remain a self-regulated profession?  

Wayne Kerr, P.Eng., MA, LLB,
Stouffville, ON