Canadian Consulting Engineer

Huge change starts to affect engineers in Ontario

In Ontario, engineers have already started taking the examinations required by the provincial government to test th...

March 22, 2004   Canadian Consulting Engineer

In Ontario, engineers have already started taking the examinations required by the provincial government to test their knowledge of the building code

By June 30, 2005 all companies and individuals who submit drawings for permit approvals under the Ontario Building Code will have to pass the examinations. Companies will also have to have insurance coverage, including structural deficiency protection for a period of seven years.

Professional Engineers Ontario estimates that under the new rules over 3,000 individual professional engineers will have to pass at least two examinations, and approximately 1,500 companies will be affected.

Following the recommendations of the Building Regulatory Reform Advisory Group (BRRAG), a group which was instituted by the former Progressive Conservative government, Bill 124 was passed in the Ontario legislature in 2002. It was followed by Regulation 305/03 a year later. The government’s goal was to improve public safety and to streamline the process for building plan approvals. The result is a huge change in the life of consulting engineers and architects.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Building and Development Branch is in charge of implementing the new regulations and has commissioned various organizations to prepare pilot training courses to help candidates prepare for the examinations. The examinations are being held in locations throughout the province. A list of locations is being updated regularly at www.obc.mah.gov.on.ca, To apply, you have to register 21 days in advance.

The examinations are in 10 different classes, some of which overlap. If, for example, you qualify to practise in “small buildings,” then you will also be entitled to practice in the “house” category. Every candidate will also have to take a legal/process examination.

While PEO is helping the Ministry to implement the examination structure, the association will not be involved in holding the examinations or the training. However, PEO will be keeping a register of individuals and companies who have passed the examinations, and it will link their registry with that of the Ministry. PEO is also in the process of changing its regulations and Act to conform to the new laws.

Gerry Meade, P.Eng. of PEO, who is in charge of disseminating information about the new procedures, says that so far the feedback from engineers who have taken the examinations is that they are fair. The format is multiple choice, and they take three hours. The cost is $80 per examination, plus there is a $125 annual registration fee for each class, plus $25 for each additional class.

Having just taken the examination once is not enough. Practitioners will have to update their skills and retake the examinations every time the Ontario Building Code changes, which happens about every three or five years.

The 10 examination classes are:

House,
Small buildings
Large buildings
Complex buildings
Plumbing – house
Plumbing – All buildings
HVAC – house
Building services
Buildings structural
On-Site sewage systems

Besides requiring that engineering companies carry seven-year structural deficiency insurance protection, the new laws also requires all firms to have insurance coverage based on annual billings as follows:

More than $100,000 in fees — $1 million per claim, $2 million in the aggregate.
Between $50,000 and $100,000 in fees — $500,000 per claim and $1 million in the aggregate.
Less than $50,000 in fees — $250,000 per claim and $500,000 in the aggregate.

At the moment engineers are allowed to do work for clients without carrying insurance, provided that they declare their lack of coverage to the client.

For more information see www.peo.on.ca, or www.obc.mah.gov.on.ca


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