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Introduction

In May 2014, Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) performed a targeted assessment of the way the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) registers people who apply for a licence to practise in Ontario, to ensure that the registration practices are fair and continue to improve.

Assessment is one of the Fairness Commissioner's mandated roles under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act (FARPACTA).

Assessment Cycle

To hold regulatory bodies accountable for continuous improvement, the OFC assesses their licensing practices using a two-year assessment cycle.

Assessment cycles alternate between full assessments and targeted assessments:

  • Full assessments address all specific and general duties described in FARPACTA.
  • Targeted assessments focus on the areas where the OFC made recommendations in the previous full assessment.

This approach establishes continuity between the assessment cycles.

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Focus of This Assessment and Report

The May 2014 targeted assessment of the PEO focused on the areas where the OFC made recommendations in the full assessment it completed in February 2012.

The OFC’s detailed report captures the results of the targeted assessment. The assessment summary provides the following key information from the detailed report:

  • duties that were assessed
  • an overview of assessment outcomes for specific-duty practices
  • an overview of comments related to the general duty
  • commendable practices
  • recommendations

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Availability of Report

The OFC encourages the PEO to provide the detailed report to its staff, council members, the public, and other interested parties.

To receive a copy of the detailed report, click here.

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Assessment Methods

Assessments are based on the Registration Practices Assessment Guide – For Regulated Professions and Trades. The guide presents registration practices relating to the specific duties and general duty in FARPACTA.

A regulatory body’s practices can be measured against FARPACTA’s specific duties in a straightforward way. However, the general duty is broad, and the principles it mentions (transparency, objectivity, impartiality and fairness) are not defined in the legislation.

As a result, the specific-duty and general-duty obligations are assessed differently (see the Strategy for Continuous Improvement of Registration Practices).

Specific Duties

The OFC can clearly determine whether a regulatory body demonstrates the specific-duty practices in the assessment guide. Therefore, for each specific-duty practice, the OFC provides one of the following assessment outcomes:

  • Demonstrated – all required elements of the practice are present or addressed
  • Partially Demonstrated – some but not all required elements are present or addressed
  • Not Demonstrated – none of the required elements are present or addressed
  • Not Applicable – this practice does not apply to this regulatory body

General Duty

Because there are many ways that a regulatory body can demonstrate that its practices, overall, are meeting the principles of the general duty, the OFC makes assessment comments for the general duty, rather than identifying assessment outcomes. For the same reason, assessment comments are made by principle, rather than by practice.

For information about the OFC’s interpretations of the general-duty principles and the practices that the OFC uses as a guideline for assessment, see the Registration Practices Assessment Guide – For Regulated Professions and Trades.

Commendable Practices and Recommendations

Where applicable, the OFC identifies commendable practices or recommendations for improvement related to the specific duties and general duty.

Sources

Assessment outcomes, comments, and commendable practices and recommendations are based on information provided by the regulatory body. The OFC relies on the accuracy of this information to produce the assessment report. The OFC compiles registration information from sources such as the following:

  • Fair Registration Practices Reports, audits, Entry-to-Practice Review Reports, annual meetings
  • the regulatory body’s:
    • website
    • policies, procedures, guidelines and related documentation templates for communication with applicants
    • regulations and bylaws
    • internal auditing and reporting mechanisms
    • third-party agreements and related monitoring or reporting documentation
    • qualifications assessments and related documentation
  • targeted questions/requests for evidence that the regulatory body demonstrates a practice or principle

For more information  about the assessment cycle, assessment process, and legislative obligations, see the Strategy for Continuous Improvement of Registration Practices.

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Assessment Summary

Specific Duties

Specific duties assessed

As a result of the recommendations made in the full assessment completed in February 2012, the PEO has been assessed in the area(s) marked below:

None Unchecked
Information for Applicants Checked
Timely Decisions, Responses and Reasons Unchecked
Internal Review or Appeal Unchecked
Information on Appeal Rights Unchecked
Documentation of Qualifications Unchecked
Assessment of Qualifications Checked
Training Checked
Access to Records Unchecked

Outcomes

PEO has demonstrated or partially demonstrated all of the practices in the following specific-duty area(s):

  • Information for Applicants
  • Assessment of Qualifications
  • Training

For practices that are partially demonstrated, see the Recommendations section later in this summary.

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General Duty

Assessment Method

The PEO selected the method marked below for the assessing of its adherence to the general-duty principles, and informed the OFC:

a. OFC assesses based on the practices listed in the assessment guide Checked
b. Regulatory body self-assesses based on the practices in the assessment guide Unchecked
c. Regulatory body self-assesses using a system-based approach, in which it explains what it does to ensure that its practices are adhering to the general-duty principles Unchecked

Principles assessed

As a result of the recommendations made in the full assessment completed in February 2012, the PEO has been assessed on the principle(s) marked below:

None Unchecked
Transparency Checked
Objectivity Unchecked
Impartiality Checked
Fairness Checked

Comments

The OFC found that since the last assessment, PEO has taken a number of active measures to promote transparency, impartiality and fairness. Recommendations for further improvement are listed below.

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Commendable Practices

A commendable practice is a program, activity or strategy that goes beyond the minimum standards set by the OFC assessment guides, considering the regulatory body’s resources and profession-specific or trade-specific context. Commendable practices may or may not have potential for transferability to another regulatory body.

The PEO is demonstrating commendable practices in the following area(s).

Information for Applicants

  • offering information sessions to interested groups and distributing materials at conferences for internationally trained professionals
  • posting to the PEO website a PowerPoint presentation that walks potential applicants through the steps required to meet academic, experience and exam requirements for licensing
  • sharing the following information about financial assistance on the PEO website:
    • The Engineering Intern Financial Credit Program helps alleviate financial hardship for recent graduates and engineers new to Canada. The program waives the application fee for eligible applicants, and grants them one year of free registration in the Engineering Intern Program.
    • PEO’s reduced-fee policy helps members who are not currently employed. 

Transparency

  • using the Valuing Newcomers brochure to:
    • welcome immigrant engineers to apply for licensing
    • describe registration steps that applicants can complete before arriving in Canada
    • provide key information about bridging and financial assistance
  • providing a link on the PEO website to additional information for immigrant engineers on the Roadmap to Engineering in Canada website. This resource includes an academic information tool that allows applicants to enter their educational institution, program of study and graduation date to find out whether they are likely to be assigned exams.
  • providing clear information in the Licensing Guide and Application for Licence about documents that can be returned to applicants upon written request and others that are kept by PEO

Impartiality

  • developing a comprehensive equity and diversity policy, with implementation guidelines that set out specific objectives for Year 1 and Year 2. As part of implementation, PEO has developed an online equity and diversity training module for both internal use with staff and volunteers and external promotion with PEO chapters.

Fairness

  • keeping pace with scientific advancement, by carefully examining new areas of practice and implications for licensing 
  • collaborating with two university-based bridging programs and recognizing their graduates as meeting PEO’s academic requirements for licensing
  • offering the Engineering Intern Program, which allows voluntary participants to benefit from one-on-one mentoring and an annual experience review while they complete their work-experience requirement 

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Recommendations

PEO should improve in the following areas.

Information for Applicants

Status
  • Add information related to registration timelines in the applicant section of the PEO website. Develop a chart or list that outlines timing for each step in the registration process, including the time required to assess and communicate a decision about academic qualifications and work experience. (Practice 1.3) †
Checked
May 2015

Assessment of Qualifications

 
  • Continue working with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia’s (APEGBC) Canadian Environment Experience Requirement Project, to articulate the competencies associated with the current requirement for one year of Canadian-environment experience. Adopt or modify these competencies for PEO. (Practice 5.2)
 
  • Engage an assessment expert to review the interview process for waiving exams. The goal of this review would be to recommend improvements or alternative assessment strategies in order to ensure consistent and objective decision-making about waiving exams based on work experience. (Practice 5.3)
Checked
April 2016
  • Solicit feedback from applicants about how to improve the communication tools that are used to provide information about the assessment of work experience, including the Experience Record Guide and Experience Record Form, and the letter advising applicants about how to prepare for an interview with the experience requirements committee (ERC). Implement changes based on the feedback received. (Practice 5.8)
Checked
February 2016
  • Conduct an efficiency review to identify opportunities for streamlining assessment processes. Consider options for dedicating additional resources to the assessment process. (Practice 5.9)
Checked
May 2015

Training

 
  • Review training programs for the members of the academic requirements committee (ARC) and the ERC, with attention to equity and diversity. Make the online equity and diversity training module mandatory for all ARC and ERC committee members, and introduce mandatory training on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). (Practice 6.2)
 

Transparency

 
  • Finish implementing the online application and follow-up system, to augment or replace the current manual system involving mail, fax, and/or drop-off. This change will speed up the process and make it possible for applicants to check the status of their applications online.†
 
  • Clarify information about taking courses in lieu of assigned examinations and provide more detailed instructions for applicants about obtaining course approval from PEO.
Checked
May 2015
  • Review template letters to applicants about academic and work-experience assessment results. Ensure that letters to applicants include clear reasons for assessment decisions and include all relevant information about possible options for addressing deficiencies.
Checked
September 2016

Impartiality

 
  • Review assessment approaches used by other countries with large numbers of internationally educated applicants, to learn about strategies for enhancing impartiality. Share findings with the ARC and ERC and/or invite a guest speaker to make a presentation.
Checked
June 2017
  • Incorporate specific and measurable equity and access provisions into the annual work of the ARC and the ERC, with support as needed from PEO’s equity and diversity committee.
Checked
Novermber 2015

Fairness

 
  • Continue work with the Canadian Environment Experience Requirement Project to identify acceptable alternatives for meeting the competencies associated with the one-year Canadian-experience requirement. Adopt or modify recommendations from this project for implementation by PEO.
 
  • Review licensing approaches used by other jurisdictions with large numbers of internationally educated engineers, to learn about admissions pathways that allow internationally educated applicants to become licensed in a more streamlined manner. Share findings with the ARC and ERC and/or invite a guest speaker to make a presentation. Consider additional opportunities for streamlining PEO processes.
Checked
June 2017

† Recommendations marked with a dagger symbol have been carried forward all or in part from the previous assessment.

 
Blank = Implementation is in progress.
Checked = Recommendation is implemented.
Acceptable alternative = Regulator implements acceptable alternative to this recommendation.

Assessment History

In the previous assessment, the OFC identified eight recommendations for this regulatory body.

Six of those recommendations have been implemented and two have been carried forward into this report.

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