TRUSTED ADVISOR AND ADVOCATE
TRUSTED ADVISOR AND ADVOCATE
Professional engineers in Ontario are licensed and regulated by the Professional Engineers of Ontario (“PEO”). Their authority is provided by the Professional Engineers Act, 1990 and it’s regulations. The PEO seeks to serve the public interest by upholding engineering academic, experience and professional practice standards and requiring individuals be licensed to provide engineering services in Ontario.
The PEO is governed by a “Council” mostly composed of members either elected by other members or appointed by the Ontario Government. Council is delegated authority to shape the Engineering profession in Ontario. It appoints a “Registrar” who is provided with broad authority to administer the PEO’s licensing regime.
Burokas Law acts as a PEO Lawyer in representing individuals and business while dealing with the PEO, from simple advice when applying for a licence to appealing a decision to revoke a licence. Services include the following:
Licenses and Certificates of Authorization
The PEO issues two types “authorizations”- a licence for individuals practicing “professional engineering” and an certificate of authorization for businesses (ex. sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations) offering “professional engineering” services. It is an offence to practice “professional engineering” without a licence or certificate of authorization (as the case may be) with fines up to $25,000 if found guilty (first offence).
Professional engineering means “any act of planning, designing, composing, evaluating, reporting, directing, or supervising that requires applying engineering principles and concerns the safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, public welfare, or the environment, or the managing of any such act”. There are numerous exceptions to the licensing 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 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:
The Registrar may also refer applicants 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 representations from the applicant.
Certificates of Authorization
A business seeking a certificate must apply and designate at least one licensee that will assume responsibility for and supervise the engineering activities provided under the certificate of authorization. If that individual or individuals have conditions on their licence, the certificate will have the same. If they lose their licence(s), the certificate of authorization will become suspended. The Registrar will refuse, suspend, or revoke a certificate if:
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 that outlines the reasons why. Individuals or business who wish to challenge this decision may appeal to the Registration Committee within 30 days.
The Registration Committee will conduct a hearing by examining the oral, documentary, and other evidence provided by both the Registrar and the Appellant applicant/licensee, and make "findings of fact". The party in opposition to the party leading evidence will have the opportunity to challenge the evidence and make submissions. Once the hearing is complete, the Registration Committee will make a decision to:
Complaints and Discipline Committee
The Complaints Committee considers and investigates written complaints regarding a member (licensee) of the PEO or holders of certificates. The relevant member will been given an opportunity to provide written explanations or submissions and the Complaints Committee must examine all records and documents relating to the complaint. After consideration and investigation, the committee will either refer the matter to the Discipline Committee, dismiss the complaint, or take other appropriate action that is not inconsistent with the law. The Complaints Committee does not hold a hearing.
The Discipline Committee hears cases of professional misconduct and incompetence regarding a member or holder of an authorization referred to it by Council, it’s Executive Committee, or the Complaints Committee. Hearings are generally open to the public and conducted similar to a hearing at the Registration Committee where there is an opportunity to lead and challenge evidence, and make submissions. A member or holder of a certificate of authorization is guilty of professional misconduct if they have been found guilty of an offence relevant to their suitability to practice engineering or, in the opinion of the Discipline Committee, is guilty of one or more of the many examples outlined in section 72 of the General Regulations of the Professional Engineers Act. Some examples include:
A complete list can be found in section 72 of Ontario Regulation 941.
The Discipline Committee may find a member incompetent if they have displayed a lack of knowledge, skill, judgement, or disregard for the welfare of the public to the extent that they are unfit to be an engineer; or are suffering from a physical or mental disorder to the extent that it’s no longer in the public interest to permit them to continue to practice professional engineering. Where the committee has found misconduct or incompetence, it may do any of the following:
If the Registrar has reasonable and probable grounds to believe a member or holder of a certificate has committed professional misconduct or is incompetent, they may appoint investigators to investigate to help the Registrar in making a decision. These investigators may enter places of business and examine books, records, document and things relevant to the investigation. They may also apply to the courts for search warrants to search buildings and seize documents to be examined.
As mentioned already, the Professional Engineers Act creates offences for engaging in “professional engineering”, or holding out to be an engineer, without the appropriate licence or authorization. There are also offences for:
Directors/officers of corporations or partners in a partnership who authorizes, permits, or acquiesces to any offence is also guilty of an offence and liable to a fine up to $50,000.
Offences are tried in the Ontario Court of Justice similar to a trial for a criminal offence. A conviction under the Professional Engineers Act will severely prejudice an individual's ability to enter or remain in the engineering profession.
Temporary, Limited, and Provisional Licences
The PEO will also issue temporary, limited, and provisional licences to individuals not the subject of this page. Much of the same requirements and procedures described above apply. Please refer to the Professional Engineers Act or contact Burokas Law for advice in these matters.
If you are an engineer applying for a licence or authorization with the PEO, seeking compliance advice, or in receipt of an administrative action, please don't hesitate to contact Burokas Law to ensure your rights and interests are best protected.