OSPE calls for action to halt non-regulatory activities at Professional Engineers Ontario

OSPE was formed in 2000 after members of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), the regulatory body responsible for licensing the practice of engineering across the province, voted to separate regulatory and advocacy functions into two distinct organizations.

However, throughout OSPE’s 18 years of existence, PEO has continued to engage in advocacy and other member services activities, in spite of the fact that these clearly fall under OSPE’s mandate. This has limited the effectiveness of both organizations, resulting in mandate confusion at PEO, and hampering OSPE’s efforts to act as the sole voice of the engineering profession to government and the public on engineering advocacy.

Consulting Engineers Ontario (CEO) sent a letter to the Ministry of the Attorney General on November 20, 2018 naming OSPE and raising issues regarding the governance structure and the non-regulatory activities of PEO. OSPE felt it necessary to respond, and contacted PEO leadership to inform them before sending our own letter to the Attorney General on November 22, 2018.

Leadership from OSPE, CEO and PEO then met on December 7, 2018 to better describe and understand these and other outlined concerns. All three organizations remain focused on the success of PEO as a regulator in the public interest. At the meeting, all parties agreed that CEO and OSPE will jointly bring forward a briefing note to the February 2019 meeting of PEO Council, proposing a path forward to re-shape and re-focus PEO, providing Council the opportunity to take the lead in making these changes rather than having them dictated by the Attorney General.

Meanwhile, it seems that PEO Council is moving forward with a meeting to vote on a motion to pursue member services activities, which would involve allowing a home and auto insurance provider to have complete access to all Ontario engineering licence holders’ personal data and contact information without their knowledge or approval. Not only does this undermine our current discussions, OSPE’s concern is that sharing a licence holder’s personal data, collected by PEO under a provision in the Professional Engineers Act of Ontario, is a serious and irresponsible breach of the authority given to a regulator that is entrusted to act in the public interest.

OSPE is concerned that PEO is interested in breaking the Accord between our two organizations, which commits to working together in the interest of the profession, consistent with our respective mandates – “PEO supports OSPE in the pursuit of the engineers’ interests and member services, and OSPE supports PEO in pursuit of the public interest.”

OSPE will keep its members informed of further developments. If you have questions or comments regarding OSPE’s letter to the Attorney General or interactions with PEO, please comment below, or contact advocacy@ospe.on.ca.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Can we learn more about this idea that PEO would or could be sharing personal membership data with an insurance provider? That doesn’t sound good, but I’m sure members would agree that we need to look the whole story here.

    Most of us are paying fees to both groups here, PEO and OSPE. Getting a clearer picture of what each group is responsible for makes sense.

    1. Anil , check PEO’s website, it clears it up for you.

  2. I think it’s absolutely marvelous that OSPE is taking such a stand. I think both OSPE and PEO would both benefit from clearer focus on their own responsibilities. I have submitted a letter to Engineering Dimensions that speaks to such matters. I will supply a copy to OSPE staff.

  3. Maybe OSPE should start being an advocate and not focus so much on insurance sales. I previously requested assistance from OSPE with respect to defining what is the practice of engineering and what is the practice of Architect and got brushed off to PEO. As an advocate, OSPE should be advocating and NOT spending all there time trying to get revenue from insurance sales.

    1. “defining what is the practice of engineering and what is the practice of Architect” is most definitely a PEO issue and not an OSPE issue. Who does what is a matter of regulation and fact – not opinion or “advocacy”. If you don’t like the rules and want them changed – it is still a matter for the PEO.
      Hope this helps.

  4. I am pretty clear on what OSPE is and their role. I think PEO isn’t. There shouldn’t even be PEO members groups and outreach efforts. They should just be engaged in licensing, qualification maintenance (PEAK Program for example), and discipline.
    Having PEO now offer insurance packages.. that is clearly undercutting OSPE membership services and they need every tool in the box to encourage engineers to join.

  5. Canadian privacy legislation (name of act escapes me now) prohibits the sharing of personal information about an organization’s members/customers, etc. without written consent, except under certain conditions. If OSPE’s statement is true that PEO would be unilaterally sharing its members’ personal information with other organizations, then PEO should check whether its actions would be legal.

  6. I do not understand why this is happening again: ospe and the peo represent the same constituency, and I think most P.Engs would expect that the two organizations will “get along”. If there are areas of overlapping accountabilities, or if disagreements arise, the ospe and peo leadership should develop a solution that is in the best interests of the membership.

    M.K. O’Neill, P.Eng

    1. Very good point Mike; unless there is a financial benefit to gain on behalf of the constituency! That is why OSPE is upset!!
      When PEO was trying to Repeal Industry Exception (which as a huge deal for Engineers in Ontario), OSPE did not support PEO’s attempt, and stayed “neutral”! How can it be called advocacy of the membership interests!? Engineers need to wake up and see if they have any advocate in this province, or not! I started as a recent graduate at Ontario Power Generation with around $65,000/yr more about 20 years ago, how much is the salary of recent graduate today? The salary of engineers has not even kept up with the inflation rate. What OSPE has done about that? staying neutral? to protect the best interests of the corporates? that does not seem a good advocacy for Engineers, to me. I wish at the end of each year OSPE could list what they achieved to do for Engineers, who pay them.

  7. Prior to the creation of OSPE PEO was the advocate and the regulator. It was a good move to separate the activities to overcome conflicts or perceived conflicts. It is my understanding though that this separation was always troublesome with some members.

    I have been a member of OSPE from the beginning as I believe the separation of roles provides a stronger image of engineering to the public. The regulator’s role is to regulate, to admit new engineers ,to discipline as needed, and to review and amend regulations as technology changes or problems arise. The advocate’s role is to promote engineering and the engineer’s role in our society. For PEO to take on advocacy is a step back.

  8. and OSPE supports PEO in pursuit of the public interest This is great!

    OSPE calls for action to halt non-regulatory activities at Professional Engineers Ontario This sows OSPE wants to become too big its britches and want to ” cut off its nose inspite of its face”

  9. This is a lose/lose/lose action for OSPE, PEO, and the profession.
    It was the generosity of all PEO members which launched OSPE, and biting the hand that ensured your survival to date is lacking in the type of professionalism that is engineering’s tradition.
    Put together a committee of respected practising engineers and sort out the problems openly within, but within, the profession.
    Support openly members sympathetic to OSPE who run for PEO council.
    In a cut-throat competitive world, we have little left but our image and we don’t
    need to attack each other.

  10. OPSE position is correct wrt advocacy.

    PEO needs to stay out of advocacy. Also the PEO has no business giving my or anybody, detailed information to any outsiders other than the statutory requirement regarding licensing information only. If PEO was to distribute information that I gave in confidence that is irrelevant to licensing,
    ie. “Meanwhile, it seems that PEO Council is moving forward with a meeting to vote on a motion to pursue member services activities, which would involve allowing a home and auto insurance provider to have complete access to all Ontario engineering licence holders’ personal data and contact information without their knowledge or approval”; then I will make that back fire on the PEO by issuing a cease and desist legal memo to all involved.

  11. I fully agree with OSPE that advocacy is not in PEO’s mandate. PEO seems unable to leave alone that which is not its business. It seems to me that people in the PRO organization want to control matters that are not PEO’s business. Why have OSPE as well as PEO conducting advocacy? It causes confusion, duplication and unnecessary work and administration. Do what your mandate says and keep the staffing level no larger than it needs to be, and the fees for paying to fulfil the mandate.

  12. I sincerely believe in specialization in order to excel in what we do.
    PEO must focus on licensing and regulating professional engineering in Ontario in order to serve and protect the public interest.
    OSPE must focus on supporting and advocating professional engineers in Ontario by providing unique service to professional engineers.
    PEO has no business to interfere with OSPE mission

  13. I see many reasons for PEO to limit its focus to its regulatory mandate as was the agreed to separation of responsibilities when OSPE was established. Competitive overlap is unnecessary & unwelcome.

  14. PEO should stay out of advocacy other than to support the mandate of OSPE.
    In my case the Insurer probably already has access to my info due to past participation in the Meloche Monnex insurance business, but I strongly disagree that PEO or any organization use my membership information to promote someone else’s business plan!!! I have to be a member of PEO in order to practice engineering. That does not give PEO the right to use my personal information for anything but affairs related to licensing and disciplinary matters.

  15. I joined OSPE years ago, in the hopes that our image as professional engineers could be further enhanced, which would lead to better interaction with our clients, general improved appreciation, and in general better compensation for what we do. I have been disappointed that PEO never really got the message, and their role should be much simplified. They should continue with more technical guidelines and assisting engineers with technical regulatory issues and interpretations as laws change. OSPE keep pushing strongly in the right direction. In reality the OSPE organization should be larger than PEO, and all engineers in practice should be in support. A comparison with the medical profession should be made as an example to inform members how the medical organizations such as OMA divide responsibilities, as well as what is happening in other professional engineering organizations in other provinces. Thank you OSPE for your continued work.

  16. Neither OSPE nor PEO should be providing members’ personal data to any individual or organisation outside OSPE and PEO. They may recommend to members the services of specific organisations, but may not provide those organisations with member data.
    I thought that the debate over which of the two PE organisations provides relevant advocacy and member services had been settled long ago. Please get it sorted out quickly in a logical and common sense way.

  17. I cannot believe that the engineering professionals want the Attorney General to resolve an internal dispute. In my view, and I am sure that you have heard it before, the PEO/OSPE split was a Brexit type mistake and it will continue to be a source of dispute as well as confusion to the general public at the expense of Engineering’s public image. I hope that PEO/OSPE can eventually reunite. I have never heard a really good reason for the separation in the first place. Most enterprises can handle their professional activities and their personnel/benefits organizations under one roof!

    1. Well said. I’m tired about OSPE’s wining, PEO is the main body and OSPE is more like a sort-of-useful extension dealing with all kind of non-engineering things, which some are not even as advantageous as advertised. It seems to me that at some point in the past there was some real power struggle, and the final truce was some sort of unusual split. If PEO would recover OSPE as its business unit, then things would go back to normal and this continuous quarrel would desist.

  18. I can see a storm over this, but I think the debate needs to continue:

    1. The CEO letter seems to suggest that the interests of the profession and the interests of the public are somehow mutually exclusive. Since the behavior of “the profession” is the first line in protection of the public, I do not understand how this is possible.
    2. The availability of qualified Engineers, in my opinion, has less to do with the qualification and registration process, and more to do with the availability of experience and P. Eng. supervision for EITs. In manufacturing, and the spill-over effect into other industries, this is largely due to the Industrial Exception, which has been in place for a generation, and has discouraged graduates and their employers from pursuing licensure. As a result, the availability of licensed supervising Engineers has run out, and could take several generations to replenish.
    3. Based on OSPE’s profile in our PEO chapter, I would suggest that if PEO stops non-regulatory activities here, most of those activities would simply stop. If OSPE wants to assume these activities, it may need to compete for them, and demonstrate its competence to attract participation. As an OSPE member, I would have not problem participating, if there was something to participate in, preferably without being required to commute 2-3 hours each way every time.
    4. We now have some cross-over in our PEO chapter executive with OSPE, and there does not seem to be an issue locally with collaboration between the organizations. The only reason I volunteered for PEO rather than OSPE is that PEO has a presence where I live.

  19. Regarding PEO, CEO, and OSPE …
    I would like to know if other professional organizations have also created separate entities, i.e., one for regulatory oversight and another for advocacy / member services. I would prefer to pay membership to one organization and have all facets (e.g., licensing, services, advocacy, and regulation) under one roof. Currently, only PEO members can become OSPE members and PEO membership dues are mandatory for active practicing engineers while OSPE dues are not. If not for the fact that my car insurance rates are contingent on being an OSPE member I would probably choose not to pay for an OSPE membership. I only have so much time to be involved in extracurricular activities. If there was one cohesive organization I would not feel like I was choosing regulation over advocacy every time I did not renew my OSPE membership.
    Hoping that discussion will continue between all stakeholders to enable formation of the best organizational structure(s) going forward.

  20. PEO would like to clarify the misleading statement that it has provided, or plans to provide, home and auto insurance provider TD Insurance with access to personal data and contact information of PEO members without their knowledge or approval.

    PEO and TD Insurance value the privacy and protection of member data. Any marketing or promotional activity is done in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and other related regulations, such as Canada’s anti-spam legislation.

    For more information on PEO’s Privacy Policy, please visit our website at http://www.peo.on.ca/index.php?ci_id=1827&la_id=1.

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