Amendments to engineering act enhance transparency and public safety protection

PEO officials applaud passage of recent amendments to the Professional Engineers Act (PEA) intended to strengthen regulation of the engineering profession. Amendments to the PEA, contained in Schedule 34 of the Ontario government’s Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act, 2017 (Bill 177), received royal assent in the legislature on December 14, 2017.

“For the past three years, PEO has worked with the Ministry of the Attorney General to identify changes to the act necessary to improve public safety protection and transparency respecting the practice of engineering in Ontario,” says PEO Registrar Gerard McDonald, P.Eng. “With the passage of Bill 177, we’re pleased PEO can make these changes to improve our transparency, accountability and effectiveness in regulating professional engineering.”

The latest changes also address issues raised by the June 2012 Algo Centre Mall collapse and the ensuing Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry.

Key amendments under Bill 177 include:

  • Regulation-making authority to create continuing education requirements for licence holders, including sanctions for non-compliance (PEO has already introduced its Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program, which gauges continuing knowledge activities of licence holders and provides recommended continuing education hours for each practising licence holder to maintain knowledge and skills commensurate with safeguarding the public interest);
  • Powers to refuse to issue, suspend or revoke a licence—where warranted by past conduct—to emulate what already exists for certificates of authorization and temporary, provisional and limited licences;
  • A transparency amendment to require licence holders’ disciplinary histories to be made publicly available, including on PEO’s website—regardless of whether the individual was found guilty or not guilty;
  • An amendment to alter the composition of PEO disciplinary hearing panels to expedite the formation of panels for speedier resolution of disciplinary cases;
  • An amendment to allow members of the public, for a fee, to obtain copies of evidence in proceedings before PEO’s Discipline Committee;
  • An amendment to allow PEO’s registrar to forward information—where there is a public safety concern—to the appropriate regulatory organization for further investigation or actions under that organization’s jurisdiction; and
  • Affirmation of PEO’s jurisdiction, with specific reference that:
  • a member who resigns or a holder of a licence, temporary licence, provisional licence, limited licence or certificate of authorization that is cancelled or revoked continues to be subject to the jurisdiction of PEO in respect of any professional misconduct or incompetence referable to a time when the person was a member or holder; and
  • a person whose licence, temporary licence, provisional licence, limited licence or certificate of authorization is suspended remains subject to the continuing jurisdiction of PEO for all purposes under the PEA.

The amendments to the PEA took effect immediately upon proclamation.