Canadian Consulting Engineer

Ontario technologists ahead of engineers in continuing professional development

April 19, 2016

Professional Engineers Ontario is continuing to work out the details of its mandatory continuing professional development program. After town hall meetings were held last year, a task force led by Annette Bergeron, P.Eng. is now studying in detail how to set up a risk based program. They are also establishing criteria and identifying any regulatory changes that are necessary.

If passed, PEO’s risk-based program would allocate requirements according to the individual engineer’s type of work, so that if you work in an area where there is lots of potential for problems and danger to the public, your CPD requirements would be stiffer.

According to an article by Michael Mastromatteo in PEO’s Engineering Dimensions, the maximum number of hours in the PEO program would be 30 hours, while non-practising engineers might only be required to complete a one-hour ethics refresher.

Mandatory continuing professional development was one of the recommendations of the Eliot Lake Inquiry Commission’s report into the collapse of the Algo Mall roof.  The existing PEO voluntary program has yielded very little participation. Only about 15 out of 80,000 people have actually reported their CPD activity.


Meanwhile, engineering technologists in Ontario have forged ahead and  already implemented a mandatory continuing professional development program. OACETT (the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists) approved a mandatory program last September and it became effective on January 1 this year.

The program has a three-year cycle, meaning that by January 1, 2019 its members will have had to report their CPD activities to show compliance. There will be random auditing of members from time to time.

Bob van den Berg, C.E.T., president of OACETT, says of the program: “The impetus behind CPD is pretty simple, really. The public expects us to be accountable and governments expect us to provide proof that our members are competent as qualified persons. This means embracing professional development with a serious commitment – from all of us.” OACETT also says that having CPD raises the profile of its professionals.

Over the three years the OACETT program requires certified members to complete one half-day formal course from an institution, or one full day course of self directed study or on-the-job training. They must also participate in three other activities. The program divides activities  under four headings: contributions to technical knowledge (e.g. codes, standards, health and safety, emerging science and technology); management or leadership training (supervision, team building, accounting, project management, etc.); contributions to the profession (writing articles, presenting at conferences, serving on committees); and peer and professional interaction (community services, file reviewing, mentoring, serving on committees, etc.).

OACETT advises members to identify the areas where they would benefit from additional learning, and “the ones you always wanted to explore.”

Many provincial engineering licensing associations in Canada have already adopted mandatory CPD programs, but Ontario has lagged behind, while the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) voted down a mandatory program last year.

Engineers Canada, the national umbrella organization for the provincial engineering licensing associations, favours mandatory CPD. Kim Allen, P.Eng., chief executive officer of Engineers Canada, is quoted in Engineering Dimensions saying: “meaningful CPD programs serve to maintain public and government confidence in the ability of engineers to regulate themselves with professionalism and high ethical standards.”

To see details of the OACETT professional development program, click here.

to read an article on PEO’s CPD program in Engineering Dimensions, March-April issue, page 38, click here.



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