A peak refresher

Eight months have passed since PEO launched its Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program. Since then, we’ve fielded hundreds of queries and received useful feedback—praise, disapproval and also engaging suggestions. We understood the program would prompt questions—What is PEAK? Why participate? How does it work? Do I have to do it?—and lead discussions within the engineering community and public at large. It has also encouraged us to share more FAQs to highlight key features of the program and, hopefully, debunk myths.

 The feature articles in the March/April 2017 issue of Engineering Dimensions also provide more background information about the program.

What is the PEAK program?
Launched by PEO on March 31, 2017, the PEAK program is an innovative yearly strategy to encourage and monitor continuing technical knowledge activities undertaken by licence holders in Ontario.

What are the key features of this program?

  1. It’s risk-based: it focuses on risks to the public attributable to practising licensees due to the particulars of their work and the use of risk mitigators in their practice;
  2. It’s flexible: it allows practising licensees to design their own knowledge plan to align with the needs of their practice and available opportunities;
  3. It’s relevant: it focuses only on technical activities relevant to a practising licensee’s scope of work; and
  4. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution: practising licensees get continuing knowledge recommendations unique to their risk, and non-practising licensees are exempt from the continuing knowledge portion of the program.

Why is the program relevant?
The PEAK program has two primary functions:

  1. It demonstrates the commitment of Ontario’s engineers to the public, the profession and self-governance by gauging what licensees do to annually maintain a level of knowledge and skill commensurate with safeguarding the public interest; and
  2. It helps PEO to more effectively serve as Ontario’s engineering regulator by collecting an accurate and up-to-date regulatory profile of its membership for evidence-based policy development.

How many elements make up the PEAK program?
There are three elements:

  1. Practice declaration/questionnaire (20 questions)
  2. Ethics module refresher (30-minute interactive video)
  3. Continuing knowledge reporting

Where is the PEAK program?
Currently the program is available online through your password-protected account in the PEO member portal at secure.peo.on.ca/ebusiness/home. Check your account today—you will find the new PEAK tab there.

Who should participate in the PEAK program?
All licence holders—P.Engs and limited licensees—up for licence renewal should participate. Exempt from the program are engineering interns (EITs), P.Engs or limited licensees who are in their first year of membership and temporary and provisional licensees. But EITs and first-year licensees should familiarize themselves with the program for when they become eligible.

Who should take part in the PEAK program?

What are the program due dates?
As of March 31, 2017, your licence renewal notice will explain how and when to participate. Complete elements (1) Practice declaration/questionnaire and (2) Ethics module refresher video only after you receive your licence renewal notice. Complete element (3) Knowledge reporting during the 12 months between this renewal and your next renewal.

Element (1) is due with your current licence renewal.
Element (2) is due with your current licence renewal.
Element (3) is due with your next licence renewal.

Due dates explained

What if I miss the PEAK due dates? How will I renew my licence?
The program is currently voluntary and not a prerequisite for your licence renewal. But your participation will be listed in the online licence holder directory on PEO’s website.

Am I a practising engineer?
The Professional Engineers Act (PEA) says the practice of engineering in Ontario—your work and volunteer activities—occurs when three criteria are satisfied. You must undertake any act of planning, designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising, or the managing of any of these acts, for the purpose of safeguarding the public interest (life, health, property, economic interests, public welfare or the environment) by applying engineering principles (knowledge from an engineering-accredited program). This meaning extends to all jobs in industry, government and consulting—you can be practising engineering under an employer not holding a certificate of authorization and even when not sealing engineering documents.

You are non-practising when unemployed, on leave, retired and not working, or if you are employed but your work is not in the practice of engineering.

PEO’s director of policy and professional affairs, Bernard Ennis, P.Eng., elaborated on this topic in the article “Are you a practising professional engineer?” (Engineering Dimensions, March/April 2017).

Am I a practising engineer in Ontario?

I am a non-practising licence holder. How does the PEAK program apply?
You can simply declare yourself a non-practising licence holder in the practice declaration, then view the interactive ethics module refresher video. You are not asked to complete the questionnaire or the activity reporting elements.

If I declare myself non-practising, can I practise engineering again?
Regardless of your declaration, you retain full right to practise engineering unless you are restricted by fee remission or other PEO conditions. When you return to practising engineering, just remember to update your practising status and complete the PEAK questionnaire and knowledge activity reporting.

What is the difference between practising status and licence status?
Practising status indicates whether you declared yourself as practising engineering in Ontario in any capacity. Licence status describes the status of your licence to practise engineering in Ontario, whether active or inactive (retired, resigned, cancelled, revoked, suspended, or on fee remission).

How many hours of activities do I have to report?
As you complete the questionnaire (remember, this is only for practising licensees) your responses will be evaluated by a risk-based approach that considers both the risk and the risk mitigators associated with your practice environment. At the end of the questionnaire, you will instantly get your knowledge activity recommendation in hours to pursue and report to PEO. Your technical activities during the next 12 months (between licence renewal dates) count towards PEAK hours.

What professional development should I undertake?
The PEAK program focuses on technical knowledge, beginning with annual activities already undertaken by practising licensees to keep their technical knowledge current. PEO recognizes three types of continuing knowledge activities: formal education, informal education and contributions to knowledge. The program lets you customize a unique learning plan that is relevant to your practice and convenient for you. But remember to report the activities to PEO. Formal education refers to courses that are instructed and evaluated by subject-matter experts, such as college or university courses or courses for industry certifications, and the teaching of these. Informal education refers to self-study and non-class-based learning and mentoring, such as reading technical journals or attending workshops or seminars. Contributions to knowledge refers to disseminating (preparation and delivery) of technical knowledge to engineering peers and establishing best practices for the profession, such as providing technical seminars, presentations, serving on technical committees or publishing papers, technical articles or books.

I work part-time. How does the PEAK program account for this?
The PEAK program recognizes the significance between practising and non-practising licensees. But the program does not further separate part-time practising status from full-time practising status. Instead, the program adopts a risk-based approach to address this diversity. Consider this: Part-time practice could present risks akin to full-time practice; it all depends on your scope and the quality management system at work.

I have more questions and want to provide feedback. What do I do?
The PEAK program team is available to assist you. If your suggestions can’t be implemented right away, they may be banked for future program upgrades.

  1. Peruse the PEAK program website for more details and FAQs: peopeak.ca
  2. Watch the video introduction on PEO’s YouTube channel: youtube.com/PeoOnCa
  3. Contact the PEO PEAK program team by phone (416-224-1100, ext. 1123; or 1-800-339-3716, ext. 1123) or email (PEOPEAK@peo.on.ca)

Arden Heerah, P.Eng., is PEO’s PEAK program coordinator.