PEO pulls off a hat trick with changes to regulation

This year will go down in PEO regulatory history as a banner year for PEO’s Legislation Committee, for successfully achieving regulation changes. Working co-operatively with the Ministry of the Attorney General’s staff, PEO was able to get cabinet approval for a record three sets of changes to Regulation 941, pertaining to Council term limits, fees transfer to bylaw and a French translation of the regulation itself.  

At its February 2016 meeting, PEO Council established the Council Term Limits Task Force to investigate how best to implement councillor term limits and succession planning at PEO. The task force analyzed the term-limit practices of other self-regulating organizations and engineering associations in Canada, the existing literature on term limits and the past 20 years of PEO Council membership. The final recommendations of the task force were presented at the June 2017 Council meeting and subsequently approved. Regulation changes were required to implement these new rules, which were approved unanimously by Council on February 2, 2018. The regulation changes came into effect on July 1, 2018, and will apply to the 2019 Council elections nominations.

In general, they place a cumulative limit of six years for an individual to be on PEO Council, regardless of what position they held. This is followed by a minimum waiting period of six years before seeking election for another Council position. However, a former Council member can run for vice president or president-elect immediately. A president is now limited to one term of office, and a vice president must wait another 10 years before running for the same position. Transitional provisions were also put in place to allow current councillors to complete their terms if already in their sixth year on Council. Accordingly, changes were made to sections 2, 2.1, 3, 14(4), and 15.1 (2.1).    

In 2010, through the Open for Business Act, Council and the government passed amendments to sections 7(1).25 and 8(1)16 of the Professional Engineers Act (PEA) to change the authority for making changes to its fees from regulations to bylaws; however, it was not proclaimed due to another change to the members’ bylaw confirmation threshold in section 8(3). Without this change, if PEO wanted to make any changes to its fees, it had to get permission from the provincial government by amending Regulation 941.

The legislature’s passage of the Stronger, Fairer, Ontario (Budget Measures) Act, 2017 on December 14, 2017, included a change to section 8(3) of the PEA, which returned PEO’s bylaw confirmation threshold to its pre-2010 level of majority of the members voting (see Engineering Dimensions, March/April 2018, p. 25). This now made it possible to proclaim the 2010 changes, allow Council to set fees through passing bylaws rather than through making regulations. To do so, Regulation 941 had to be amended to remove all remaining prescribed fees and to refer instead to fees as specified in the bylaw at the same time.

At its February 2018 meeting, Council approved those regulation changes (the bylaw was simultaneously amended by Council on the same date to add those same fees), coming into effect on April 1, 2018. For sections where the fee payable was one of a list of requirements respecting a matter prescribed by Regulation 941, the fee prescribed in regulation was changed to a reference to the “fee specified in the bylaw.” Accordingly, sections 79.1 to 80 and sections 82 to 87 were concerned exclusively with fee amounts and were revoked.

In the course of drafting the regulation changes, the Ministry of the Attorney General had also identified the need for corrections to wording in sections 32.1(2) and 68. PEO staff also identified the need to revoke section 88, which is no longer valid due to the government’s stay of the industrial exception in the Burden Reduction Act in March 2017.   

It is worth restating that the current fee amounts were transferred intact to section 39 of By-Law No. 1, while the requirement to pay fees for licence, certificate of authorization and consulting engineer designation applications and renewals as well as for examinations remain in Regulation 941. Council now has the authority to pass bylaws to change fees effective immediately, unless Council requires and specifies a confirmation vote by the members under the rules in section 8(3) of the PEA. There are no implications for any PEO fee changes at this time. 

At its November 2017 meeting, upon request by the Ministry of the Attorney General, Council authorized the ministry to draft a French language version of Regulation 941. This was intended to assist the Office of Legislative Counsel and the attorney general in achieving their commitment for bilingual legislation in the province. Increasingly, the expectation is for regulations to be bilingual. It is important to note that French versions of the PEA and regulations do not automatically create any operational obligation to provide service in French to francophones, although PEO has provided some services recently, such as translators for discipline hearings and French licence certificates. The PEA has had a French version since 1991. 

In March 2018, Council approved a French version of Regulation 941, which included the two recent regulation changes mentioned above, and which became effective on July 1, 2018.  The French version introduced a feminine term (“ingénieure”) for seals in section 52 and for titles in section 55.1 as well as for consulting engineer (“ingenieur-conseil” or “ingenieure-conseil”) and their plural forms in sections 59, 67-69 and 71.