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PEO plans major shake-up in rules for practising engineers

Large Ontario consulting engineering firms could face a steep rise in the fees they pay to be able to offer their services to the public.


Large Ontario consulting engineering firms could face a steep rise in the fees they pay to be able to offer their services to the public.

For over 40 years Professional Engineers of Ontario has run a mandatory Certificate of Authorization (C of A) program for engineering entities that provide services to the public. Currently PEO has 4,500 listings.

The C of A program has been somewhat controversial, believed by some firms to be a “tax grab.” So in 2004, PEO set up a task force to review the program and is now introducing far-reaching changes.

The proposed new regime is currently being reviewed by PEO’s Legislation Committee and it must then go to PEO Council and to the provincial government for cabinet approval and filing. Details of the proposals are given in an article by Michael Mastromatteo in the March-April issue of PEO’s official magazine, Engineering Dimensions.

One of the biggest changes is that whereas now everyone from sole practitioners to large firms pay the same fee ($373), under the new regime they will pay the same basic annual fee, but on top of that firms will have to pay a fee for each individual licensed engineer who provides services under the C of A.

This means that under the new regime, a sole practitioner would pay a reduced fee: $220, plus $45 as a responsible licence holder. A large firm, however, would need to pay the $220 basic fee, but also would have to pay $45 for each engineer that is listed on its C of A. And companies are required to list at least one licensed engineer for each of the disciplines it offers services in. There are 30 possible disciplines available. According to Mastromatteo’s article, “Although sole practitioners and small C of A firms will see cost reductions, the fees for large firms could increase substantially.”

PEO is also tightening its oversight of how engineers practice by introducing discipline-specific seals. Currently the same professional engineer’s seal applies whether an individual is doing mechanical, electrical, or structural engineering, for example. A design for new seals was approved by the PEO council in 2008. The new seals require changes to section 49(1) of Regulation 941.

Firms registering for the C of A will have to report their scopes of practice as part of the C of A registry. PEO will be validating this information.

Along with the new C of A regime PEO is introducing a complementary professional standard for designating when it is appropriate to delegate work to others. Obviously, if firms have to designate individual engineers for specific scopes of work as part of the C of A listing, then it becomes important to know how far they can share the workload with non-designated individuals who work on their projects. Called “Delegating and Supervising Professional Engineering Work,” the new standard is still undergoing revisions and has to be approved by the Ontario government, a process that could take a year.

An advantage of the proposed new C of A system for consulting firms is that PEO will be using the data to publish an expanded on-line directory of firms with information about the types of service the firms offer and the scope of their expertise. Currently PEO does not publish that information, but the new transparency will be helpful for potential clients.

To see the article in Engineering Dimensions, click here.

http://www.peo.on.ca/DIMENSIONS/marapr2012/Feature.pdf