OSPE’s Professional Engineers Act Working Group Makes First Round of Recommendations to Attorney General’s Office

Earlier this year, OSPE reinstated its Professional Engineers Act Working Group (PEAWG) to create an initial list of proposed changes to submit to the Ministry of the Attorney General for consideration, as part of the Ontario government’s Red Tape Reduction Bill. (For more details on the Working Group, read this blog post from July 2021.)

Throughout the summer, the PEAWG met to discuss and draft an initial submission for government. The first submission from the group, sent to the Attorney General, the Honourable Doug Downey, as well as Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), Engineers Canada, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Ontario (ACEC-Ontario), the Attorney General Critics and the Fairness Commissioner on October 4, 2021, included recommended changes to the Act in the following areas:

  1. Regulatory Focus
  2. Cease Regulating the Consulting Engineer Title
  3. Backstopping PEO Accountability through Ministerial Action
  4. Time Limits for Licence Application Processing
  5. Eliminate the Requirement for 12 Months of Canadian Experience for Licensure
  6. Grants, Scholarships, Bursaries and Prizes
  7. Employment Advisory Service / Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan
  8. Provide a Single Type of Certificate of Authorization (C of A)
  9. Joint Practice Board

OSPE believes that these recommendations are essential to safeguard the public interest, enable PEO to be a strong and focused regulator, and will contribute to the overall economic progress of our province. The PEAWG looks forward to working with the government to further develop these recommendations.

Read the full submission here and the appendix here.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Ontario (ACEC-Ontario) has also issued a letter of support for OSPE’s proposal for amendments to the Professional Engineers Act. 

For more on the PEAWG rationale, listen to OSPE’s podcast

Listen to the latest episode of Engineering the Future at www.ospe.on.ca/podcast, where President of OSPE Mark Frayne, P.Eng., and OSPE Member and Past President of PEO David Brown, P.Eng., discuss details about their involvement in OSPE’s reinstated PEAWG, providing insight on regulatory reform for the engineering profession overall and why they believe OSPE must continue pushing for change.  

OSPE Members – Provide Your Input

Members-Only Virtual Discussion on Regulatory Reform and the Professional Engineers Act  

November 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Register here

Join us for a members-only virtual event to hear from a panel of OSPE’s PEAWG members, and contribute  your suggestions, expertise, and ideas to support OSPE’s continuous advocacy work in this area. 
 
All featured panelists are members of OSPE’s Professional Engineers Act Working Group (PEAWG):  

  • Annette Bergeron, P.Eng.,  Chair, Electrical Safety Authority 
  • David Brown, P.Eng., Past President, Professional Engineers Ontario
  • Bernard Ennis, P.Eng., Instructor, University of Guelph, and former Director of Policy and Professional Affairs, Professional Engineers Ontario   
  • Bruce Matthews, P.Eng., Executive Director, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Ontario  
  • Moderator:  Mark Frayne, P.Eng., President and Chair, Ontario Society of Professional Engineers   
Agenda  
6:30 PM – Introduction  
6:35 PM – Panel Discussion  
7:10 PM – Audience Q&A + Comments  
7:40 PM – Closing  

This virtual event will be open to OSPE members only. Register for the event to ensure your voice is heard, or, email OSPE any time at advocacy@ospe.on.ca.

2022 OSPE Member Consultations – Regulatory Reform

Members of the PEAWG will also be hosting virtual OSPE Member Consultations beginning in 2022 to gather input from OSPE members on what further recommendations should be made to the Attorney General regarding changes to the Act, including:

  • Improved oversight mechanisms
  • Mandatory liability insurance
  • Financial stewardship
  • Accountability
  • Role of PEO Chapters
  • Governance structure

Stay tuned for announcements on dates and times in the coming months.

Regulatory Reform – FAQs

The Professional Engineers Act was last revised in 2017 to take into account some of the recommendations from the Elliot Lake Inquiry. While matters such as fees and other changes have been made through regulation, other issues like the definition of the practice of engineering, mandatory continuing professional development, right to title versus right to practice and specialization have not been adequately addressed in more than 20 years. Ontario remains the only jurisdiction in Canada not to have implemented a mandatory CPD program, and Engineers Canada has been put on notice that Canada will be excluded by the International Engineering Alliance unless Ontario implements a CPD program and a quality assurance program within the next few years.

PEO is currently undergoing a governance review and changes, based on recommendations from the External Regulatory Review report conducted by the Professional Standards Authority in 2019. Similarly, PEO’s Chief Legal Council conducted a review of all PEO’s activities and identified a number that are, although permitted under the Act, not appropriate for a regulator to perform. As a result, PEO Council is implementing a number of structural and regulatory changes to its governance structure and operations.

The Attorney General of Ontario, the Honourable Doug Downey, has indicated that he is willing to make further revisions to the Professional Engineers Act to enact the governance changes at PEO, as well as to reinforce PEO’s regulatory mandate.

The Professional Engineers Act Working Group includes President Mark Frayne, P.Eng., and other Board members, who will report back to the entire OSPE Board of Directors and will be responsible for consulting with OSPE members, through virtual OSPE Member Consultations to take place in 2022, to determine the provisions of the Professional Engineers Act that should be updated so that PEO can cease non-regulatory functions and make the necessary governance and operational changes as outlined in its External Regulatory Review and with the recently released Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Report.

This Working Group will be studying these issues and others to continue to formulate proposals as to how the Act can be revised and what legislative changes will be necessary to remove any reference to non-regulatory activities within PEO.

The Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for ensuring that the regulator (PEO) is managing their activities in accordance with the relevant legislation – the Professional Engineers Act.   

OSPE believes that as the engineering regulator in the province of Ontario, PEO has a greater responsibility towards regulation, and the focus on member services further takes their attention away from where it needs to be. 

 

Yes. OSPE has been calling for change at PEO through official submissions to PEO over the years (i.e. an official 10-page response paper in 2017 to “Enhancing PEO’s Government Liaison Program (GLP): Implementation Plan for the GLP Audit Recommendations”). OSPE has also been calling for mandatory continuing professional development for engineers in Ontario for many years. 

OSPE was created in the year 2000 to represent and advocate for the engineering profession. This includes advocating for change at the regulator to ensure the livelihood and reputation of engineers is protected.

Without a strong regulator focused on protecting the public, public perception of the engineering community in Ontario will be in jeopardy. OSPE has been advocating for several of the above recommended changes at PEO for years.

OSPE exists to support the entire engineering community in obtaining licensure and going on to thrive in engineering. As the advocacy and membership association for engineers, it is OSPE’s responsibility to advocate to government, media, the public, industry, academia, and the provincial regulator, PEO, to ensure that the interests of engineers, graduates, interns and students are protected.

OSPE’s current advocacy work reflects the wants and needs of our most active volunteers and ambassadors. We encourage all OSPE members to attend our upcoming OSPE Member Consultations to ensure your voice is reflected in this discussion. Currently, the majority of OSPE members we have heard from believe change at PEO is necessary. We will be surveying all OSPE members for their opinion on this in our Annual Member Satisfaction Survey, and at our OSPE Member Consultations throughout 2022.

If you are an OSPE member and have questions or would like to provide feedback to the PEAWG, please email advocacy@ospe.on.ca.

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