In 2018, PEO voluntarily commissioned an extensive and independent external regulatory performance review. The review carefully examined several important aspects of our work, applying principles of right touch regulation and identified various areas where we could be more efficient, more transparent and more objective in making regulatory determinations.
Today, PEO is engaged in a multi-year, enterprise-wide transformation to address the recommendations that ensued and to achieve its change vision of becoming a professional, modern regulator that delivers on its statutory mandate and is supported by a governance culture that consistently makes decisions that serve and protect the public interest.
The strategy for such work is built on three critical pillars: operational effectiveness, organizational alignment and governance renewal.
PEO is committed to becoming a more effective regulator. Work in this area stems from the operational changes outlined in the Action Plan approved by Council in September 2019.
In the fall of 2019, Council approved an action plan to address many of the issues that emerged from the external regulatory performance review.
As per the action plan, PEO Council also approved an activity filter, which we have used to delineate between activities (and associated outputs) that are regulatory, those that are related to our governance and those that serve neither function. Following the advice of the external regulatory performance review, we have conducted a preliminary evaluation of whether activities are “fit and necessary” for a regulatory or governance purpose. Our Council is now at the stage where we are looking more closely at activities which do not serve regulatory or governance functions and yet do provide a means for professional engineers to engage with their regulator. Meaningful, informed stakeholder participation remains a key priority for PEO, at all levels of our organization.
The action plan instructed our CEO/registrar to prioritize stabilization of the licensing function within the context of the current legislative scheme. Some significant process improvement in this area has already been noted, despite the pandemic.
PEO is committed to a digital transformation journey to enable greater automated processing, deeper business intelligence and overall greater efficiencies. Staff are working to improve timelines and advance the digitization of our applications process.
- National Professional Practice Examination
Noting the recommendation for “psychometrically balanced” objective testing criteria, PEO has adopted the multiple-choice National Professional Practice Examination to replace the more subjective exam that was previously utilized.
- Mandatory continuing professional development
PEO is committed to implementing a mandatory continuing professional development program in early 2023 that is based on the existing voluntary Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program and supported by changes to the regulation to be considered soon.
- Requirements for licensure
The action plan also called for a longer-term review of some of our academic and admission processes and criteria. These include, of course, the existing 12-month Canadian engineering experience requirement for licensure. Canadian experience forms part of a four-year overall work experience requirement embedded in Regulation 941 under our Act. Our staff have already begun to explore the basis for experience requirements, how they serve to protect the public, and how they might be modified to ensure that there is a proper balance between interests of applicants for engineering licensure (including those who are foreign trained) and public safety.
A review of our requirements for licensure will also consider changing employment patterns in the profession. This includes the experience gained and skills developed by many engineering graduates while working independently or otherwise not under traditional engineering supervision. Our work will be undertaken using a lens that aligns with PEO’s public protection mandate.
A strong, effective regulator requires a strong, professional staff, under the direction of a CEO/registrar who is accountable to Council. PEO is therefore addressing its staff organizational structure to ensure it has the appropriate capacity and agility to achieve its regulatory and governance objectives.
A new executive leadership team has been established that will enable the CEO/registrar to deliver more effectively on the various tasks assigned to them under the Professional Engineers Act and by Council.
An effective regulator requires an effective, focused regulatory governance board. In March 2020, Council approved a two-year Governance Roadmap with key steps and milestones to help develop and enhance Council’s governance effectiveness. Now in the second year of the roadmap, Council has solidified its role and function as a governance board that provides strategic direction to PEO and provides high level control. Once completed, the roadmap will result in an approach to regulatory governance that is fully consistent with that of a modern, enlightened and responsive self-regulator.
To further support its role and function, Council established four new governance committees in 2021:
- Audit and Finance Committee;
- Governance and Nominating Committee;
- Human Resources and Compensation Committee; and
- Regulatory Policy and Legislation Committee.
This action was one of 11 governance tenets and seven additional governance directions approved by Council last year.
2020-2022 STRATEGIC PLAN
PEO’s 2020-2022 Strategic Plan: Roadmap to Transformation (Clarity of Purpose) summarizes the critical elements of our transformation process, the majority of which are rooted in the Action Plan that our Council approved in 2019 to address the recommendations from PEO’s external regulatory performance review, as well as Council’s two-year Governance Roadmap. The high-level direction for this transformation journey was affirmed by Council in November and this document provides a vehicle to clearly articulate our short-term priorities and intentions to stakeholders.
EQUITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Exploratory Working Group
PEO’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Exploratory Working Group (AREWG) was formed to develop recommendations on how best to address issues of racism and discrimination, including systemic discrimination, in all aspects of PEO’s work as a regulator, an organization and an employer. In November 2021, Council agreed to extend and expand the mandate of the AREWG, which was previously charged with scoping the extent of the work that needed to be done, first at a high level (Phase 1) and then with somewhat more detail (Phase 2). The AREWG is now instructed by Council to move into the next phase, Phase 3, of its work, and to complete that phase by spring 2022. Among numerous things to be considered as the basis for further action are:
- Development of a policy code to address systemic racism and related equity issues, in a manner consistent with Ontario’s public policy direction and applicable human rights laws;
- Further consultations with a fair cross-section of relevant stakeholders who are affected or potentially affected by these issues;
- Recommendations on how Council should develop, review and approve its strategic directions, as seen through the lens associated with the AREWG mandate;
- Public reporting requirements regarding PEO’s commitment and progress applicable to the AREWG mandate;
- Accountability mechanisms to help Council assure itself of regulatory effectiveness on dealing with anti-racism, anti-discrimination issues; and
- Periodic reassessments to ensure that recommendations and decisions are tracked and updated.
30 by 30 Task Force
The 30 by 30 initiative is a commitment to raising the percentage of newly licensed engineers in Ontario who are women to 30 per cent by 2030. The 30 by 30 Task Force was formed by PEO in 2018 to show visible leadership in addressing the underrepresentation of women licensed in the profession by formally endorsing the 30 by 30 initiative with Engineers Canada and committing to undertaking an action plan to resolve this inequity.
Since then, the task force has established metrics in several key areas including:
- Engineering interns;
- Experience Requirements Committee interviews;
- Licensure Assistance Program participation;
- PEO staff and volunteers;
- Employers; and
Council has made a 10-year commitment to track work in these areas to measure progress toward the 30 by 30 goal. Council is also regularly apprised at its meetings on work related to the awareness and action plans created to engage key stakeholders in the 30 by 30 initiative.
The task force was stood down effective December 31, 2021, as per its terms of reference, with related work being incorporated into PEO operations.
The next steps include an independent gender audit of PEO’s existing licensing process and internal operations to be conducted by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. The audit will investigate potential gender biases and any unintentional barriers that may impede women from getting licensed.
SUPPORT FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
We are appreciative of the support PEO has received from the Attorney General, the minister responsible for our legislation, for these initiatives. The related correspondence to/from the ministry is available below.
We will continue to keep all our key stakeholders apprised of our progress as we strive to achieve our goal of becoming a more modern, more effective and more responsive regulator.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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