TRUSTED ADVISOR AND ADVOCATE
TRUSTED ADVISOR AND ADVOCATE
Professional architects in Ontario are regulated by the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), a self-regulated body governed by the Architects Act, 1990 and it’s regulations. The OAA's objectives is to establish, maintain, and develop skill among its members to protect and serve the public interest. This is primarily accomplished by administering a licence/certification regime that requires individuals, partnerships, and corporations to meet prescribed requirements to obtain a licence (for individuals) or certificate of practice (for businesses).
The OAA is governed by a “Council” composed of elected members and non-members, and public appointments. Council appoints a “Registrar” who is provided with broad authority to administer the OAA’s licensing and certification regime.
Burokas Law acts an OAA Lawyer by representing individuals and businesses dealing with the OAA from advocacy in applying to defending administrative actions. Some examples include:
Licenses and Certificates of Practice
The OAA issues two types of “authorizations”, a licence for individuals practicing architecture and an certificate of practice for businesses (sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations) engaging in the “practice of architecture”. It is an offence to engage in the practice of architecture without a licence or certificate of practice with fines up to $25,000 if found guilty (first offence).
The "practice of architecture" means: 1) the preparation of a design to construct, enlarge, or alter a building; 2) evaluating, advising, or reporting on such activities, or; 3) generally reviewing such activities. There are numerous exceptions to the licensing/certification requirement, including, but not limited to:
Individuals are first required to complete academic and experience training composing of:
If these requirements are met, the Registrar will issue a licence to a citizen or permanent resident over 18 years old if they are of good character. The Registrar will refuse to issue a license (in the case of an applicant), or suspend or revoke a licence (in the case of a licensee) if it he/she is of the opinion, on reasonable and probable grounds:
In regards to an applicant, the Registrar my also refer an application to the Academic Requirements Committee to determine whether the above noted academic requirements have been met; the Experience Requirements Committee to determine whether the experience requirements have been met, or both. These committees do not hold hearings, but must receive written submissions from the applicant.
Certificates of Practice
A business seeking a certificate must apply and meet the requirements; which depend on whether the business is a corporation, partnership, or a sole proprietorship composed of a licensee.
The OAA will also grant a certificate of practice to holders of a “certificate of authorization” under the Professional Engineers Act and meet the above noted criteria.
The same criteria applies to a partnership with necessary modification in relation to partners and financial interest. Also, a partner who is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario fulfills the first criteria. Whether the applicant is a corporation or partnership, the OAA will refuse, suspend, or revoke a certificate (as the case may be) if the Registrar is of the opinion, on reasonable and probable grounds that the corporation or partnership fails to comply with these requirements.
For sole proprietorships, as long as the individual business owner is a member, he/she is entitled to a certificate of practice. The Register will refuse, suspend, or revoke the certificate (as the case may be) if he or she is of the opinion, on reasonable and probable grounds, that the individual has not practiced architecture within a 5 year period.
The Registrar will refuse to issue a certificate (in the case of an applicant), or suspend or revoke a certificate (in the case of a licensee) if it he/she is of the opinion, on reasonable and probable grounds:
Members of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario
Certificates of practice can also be issued to members of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario who holds a certificate of authorization under the Professional Engineers Act, 1990 and employs at least one member of the OAA who will personally supervise and direct the practice of architecture on a full time basis.
Proposals to Refuse, Revoke, and Suspend
If the Registrar seeks to refuse, suspend, or revoke a licence or certificate of authorization, it must issue a proposal outlining the reasons why. Individuals or business who wish to challenge this decision must appeal to the Registration Committee within 30 days.
The Registration Committee will conduct a hearing by examining the oral and documentary evidence provided by both the Registrar and the appellant applicant/licensee and make "findings of fact". Beforehand, the party in opposition to the party leading evidence will have the opportunity to challenge the evidence through cross-examination and make submissions. Once the hearing is complete, the Registration Committee will make a decision to:
The OAA has a Complaints Committee that considers and investigates complaints regarding the conduct of a member. The committee will sit as a panel of three but will not do anything without first reviewing a written report, giving the member time to review and respond, and examine all relevant documents. They do not conduct a hearing, rather they review all the relevant documents and submissions, and decide:
The discipline committee will conduct a hearing to determine allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence. Professional misconduct will be found if the member or holder of a certificate has been found guilty of an offence relevant to the person’s suitability to practice or the committee found them guilty of at least one of the numerous actions that are considered professional misconduct in the Architects Act regulations. Some examples include:
An entire list can be reviewed at section 42 of Ontario Regulation 27.
The Discipline Committee will find a member or holder of a certificate incompetent if it holds the opinion that the member:
If the discipline committee finds professional misconduct or incompetency after a hearing, they may order the following:
If the Registrar believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a member or holder has committed professional misconduct or is incompetent, they may appoint investigators to investigate. These investigators may enter businesses and examine documents relevant to their investigation. They may also apply to the court for search warrants to search buildings/receptacles and seize documents.
The Architects Act creates the following offences:
These offences are tried in the Ontario Court of Justice where a trial will be conducted similar to a criminal trial. Being convicted under the Architects Act will not result in a criminal record but severely prejudice an individual, partnership, or corporation’s ability to obtain or retain a licence or certificate of practice.
The OAA will also issue temporary licences to individuals who are not the subject of this page. Much of the same requirements and procedures described above apply. Please refer to the Architects Act or contact Burokas Law for advice in these matters.
If you are an Architect in Ontario and have questions about applying to the OAA, need regulatory advice, or a recipient of an administrative action, please don't hesitate to contact Burokas Law.