PEAK Frequently Asked Questions

General

The Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program is an initiative that was created by PEO—the provincial engineering regulator—with two parts: a data collector of practice details on licence holders, and a continuing professional development (CPD) reporting program. The program was started on March 31, 2017, and applies to PEO professional engineers and limited licence holders.

The PEAK program functions as another layer of protection of the public interest with respect to the practice of professional engineering in Ontario. PEAK achieves this purpose in the following ways: 

  1. PEAK applies to PEO professional engineer or limited licence holders. 

  2. PEAK publishes program participation details for each licence holder on the PEO directory of practitioners. These details are updated daily and reset yearly and include: 

    • Practice status.

    • Completion status for each PEAK element

      - Practice evaluation questionnaire (for practising licence holders only).

      - Ethics module.

      - Continuing knowledge declaration (for practising licence holders only). 
       
  3. PEAK equips PEO with regulatory information to better serve as the provincial engineering regulator through the creation of evidence-based policies. Specifically, PEO learns which licence holders are actively engaged in the practice of professional engineering, how they perform their practice activities, and how they stay current and competent in their practice areas. 

The PEAK program is designed to benefit the Ontario public. It operates as a platform for PEO and its licence holders to show their commitment to safeguarding the public interest. Quality assurances come by way of PEO publishing which licence holders are engaged with the regulator through their voluntary participation in the PEAK program as well as their annual professional development completion status to stay current and competent in their engineering practice areas.

The PEAK program is a voluntary (optional) initiative that integrates data collection with continuing professional development (CPD).

PEAK is based on the voluntary participation of PEO licence holders who choose to complete the program without impacting their ability to hold their PEO licence. At this time, licence holders do not have to complete the PEAK program as part of the annual licence fee payment process; but their PEAK completion statuses are published on PEO’s online directory of practitioners. Completion statuses are published for the current licence period, are updated daily, and reset every licence period. However, historical PEAK completions statuses for previous licence periods are not available to the public.

Subsequent to the March 2017 launch of the PEAK program, an update to Section 7.(1).27 of the Professional Engineers Act for Ontario articulates PEO's additional authority to make regulations governing the continuing education of licence holders and sanctions for non-compliance. However, at that time no changes existed regarding PEO's operational policies with respect to continuing education that make any part of the PEAK program mandatory or impose sanctions on non-compliant licence holders.

Ontario is the lone Canadian jurisdiction where the regulator operates a voluntary CPD program for its licence holders. All other Canadian provincial and territorial engineering regulators now operate mandatory CPD programs.

A mandatory CPD program for Ontario engineers has been recommended in the 2019 verdict from the coroner's inquest into the death of Scott Johnson, the 2019 external report on PEO’s regulatory performance, the 2014 commissioner's report from the Elliot Lake inquiry and the 2013 report from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) on CPD for Ontario engineers.

UPDATE (February 26, 2021) – PEAK continues to be optional for licence holders. However, PEO intends to implement a mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) program based on the PEAK program. The current target for the launch of the mandatory CPD program is January 2023. Further details on this initiative, including timing, program elements and requirements will be provided as information become available.

To access the PEAK program anytime, licence holders must log in to their PEO portal account and select the “PEAK” menu to start. Here, they could update their practice status, change other practice-related information and responses, complete the ethics module, and report their continuing knowledge hours for the year. Licence holders will see an overview chart summarizing the PEAK elements and infographic illustrating the timelines and due dates every year. Licence holder updates will be posted online one business day after licence holders complete their PEAK program elements because the PEO system is updated overnight. PEAK completion statuses are posted on the publicly-visible PEO directory of practitioners, updated daily, and reset every licence period.

Every year, licence holders receive their licence renewal notice 60 days before the renewal date. All licence holders should begin the Practice Evaluation and Ethics Module for the forthcoming year upon receipt of their licence renewal notice.

Every year, practising licence holders should report to PEO the continuing knowledge activities they completed using the online PEAK reporting form. They should start reporting from as early as the beginning of the licensed period and complete reporting by the end of the licensed period.

PEO “licence status” describes whether the individual holds PEO permission to engage in the practice of professional engineering in, or for parties in, Ontario; this status will always be accompanied by any PEO-applied terms, conditions and limitations applied to the licence.

PEO “practising status” describes the licence holder’s self-declaration to PEO whether they are actively engaged (even on a part-time basis) in the practice of professional engineering in, or for parties in, Ontario. The three options for practice status are Undeclared, Practising and Non-practising.

Refer to the PEO glossary of directory terms to learn more about licence status and practice status.

The Professional Engineers Act for Ontario describes a three-part definition of the practice of professional engineering. The Act identifies nine actions in its description of professional engineering: managing professional engineering activities, or carrying out engineering activities such as the planning, designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising of professional engineering activities. Regulators in other jurisdictions have their own legislation and may define the practice of professional engineering differently.

Table illustrating the three-part definition for the practice of professional engineering. Long description available at the link provided.

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You are a PEO licence holder in a “practising” situation in Ontario when you hold a “current” PEO licence, you are actively satisfying the three-part definition for professional practice and your professional practice activities—including work, volunteer and pro bono projects—are carried out, or provided to parties, in Ontario. Licence holders who are temporarily unemployed and intend to practise as soon as they secure employment are in a practising situation.

You are a PEO licence holder in a “non-practising” situation in Ontario when you hold a “current” PEO licence, but you are not actively satisfying the three-part definition for professional practice. In other words, you are not actively engaged in the practice of professional engineering in Ontario, and your professional practice activities—including work, volunteer and pro bono projects—are not carried out, or provided to parties, in Ontario. Situations where you would be non-practising include being retired (no part-time practice), on leave (including medical, parental, family responsibility, study), unemployed (and not intending to practise soon), employed in the engineering sector in a position where you do not actively practise engineering, or reside outside Ontario and not actively practising professional engineering for clients in Ontario. Non-practising PEO licence holders retain practice and title rights, whereas fee remission registrants only retain title rights. Also, you are automatically a non-practising PEO licence holder while you are registered in PEO’s fee remission program

You could change your PEO practice status if your Ontario engineering activities require it. However, you cannot change your practice status while a PEO condition applies to your licence, like non-practising terms for fee remission registrants.

The enforcement advisory team at PEO is available to assist you to determine your practice status at enforcement@peo.on.ca, or (416) 224-1100 and (800) 339-3716 at extension 1444. Topics would include questions or reporting on allowable job titles, questions or reporting on the practice of professional engineering, consent to use “engineer,” “engineering” or “consulting engineer” in a business name, and Registrar’s certificates.

Licence holders in their first year of licensure or reinstatement are not expected to complete the program for that first year. The program will automatically mark their practice status as “practising” and their PEAK elements as “not applicable” for that year. These licence holders are expected to complete the program every year starting from the time they receive their first licence fee renewal notice. 

Licence holders who teach engineering are expected to complete the PEAK program according to their practice status. The teaching of engineering is not described in the definition of the practice of professional engineering in the Professional Engineers Act for Ontario. 

Licence holders who teach engineering are in a “practising” situation when they or their students deliver work or research—whether on a paid, reduced fee, stipend or pro bono basis—and provide expert engineering opinions or provide engineering services that will be used or relied upon, particularly by parties outside the educational institution. 

Licence holders who teach engineering are in a “non-practising” situation when they teach, supervise student projects, or carry out basic research with an outcome that would not directly be used or relied upon by other. 

Licence holders who are retired are in a “non-practising” situation since they are not actively engaged in the practice of professional engineering, not even on a part-time basis. Retired licence holders are still expected to participate in the PEAK program each year by completing the non-practising declaration and the ethics module. 

Licence holders who are registered into the reduced fee program are restricted to a “non-practising” situation and they are not allowed to practise professional engineering anytime while registered in the fee remission program. Fee remission licence holders are still expected to participate in the PEAK program each year by completing the non-practising declaration and the ethics module. Fee remission licence holders retain title rights but not practice rights. Fee remission licence holders who exit the reduced fee program should immediately update their practice status declaration and complete the PEAK program as a practising licence holder for that licence period.

PEO conducted consultations with stakeholders during the development of the PEAK program. Refer to this PEO webpage for the background to the PEAK program which outlines the consultation opportunities. In particular: 

  1. The CPDCQA task force that delivered its November 2015 report consulted with licence holders through the assistance of Ipsos Reid, and the task force consisted of these ten individuals: 

    • a licence holder employed by a consulting practice 

    • a licence holder employed in an engineering department providing in-house engineering services 

    • a retired licence holder 

    • a non-practicing employed licence holder 

    • a licence holder employed by a government 

    • a licence holder employed as a professor in a college or university 

    • a licence holder employed by a manufacturing company 

    • a sole practitioner 

    • a PEO councillor 

    • a member of the PEO Executive Committee to assume the role of Chair 

  2. Six Town Hall meetings from September to October 2015 in each of PEO’s five chapter regions to discuss CPD and the other recommendations from the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry. 

  3. Beta testing in October 2016 of the practice evaluation questionnaire with licence holders. 

  1. The CPCP task force that delivered its March 2017 report, and the task force consisted of these eight (8) individuals: 

    • the past-CPDCQA chair 

    • two past-CPDCQA members 

    • four members of Council (elected) 

    • a member of Council (LG-appointed) 

Practice Evaluation

Refer to the Core Elements page for details about the practice evaluation element.

Licence holders who are in a “practising” situation are asked to complete a practice evaluation questionnaire comprising a series of short multiple-choice questions on their engineering practice circumstances. The questionnaire is structured much like an informal practice audit, and the responses to the questionnaire describe risks to the public and mitigation measures associated with licence holders’ practice activities. Upon completing the questionnaire, licence holders are assigned personalized recommendations towards continuing knowledge activities to be completed during the 12-month licence period. This recommendation is described in number of hours (up to 30 hours for that licence period) and determined by a risk-based analysis of the responses to the questionnaire. 

Licence holders who are in a “non-practising” situation are asked to complete a non-practising survey comprising a series of short multiple-choice questions on their non-practising circumstances and expectation for a return to a practising status. Non-practising licence holders retain both title and practice rights for Ontario; however, licence holders registered in the reduced fee program only retain title rights and are not allowed to practise professional engineering until they exit the fee remission program. Non-practising licence holders who return to a practising situation should immediately update their practice status declaration and complete the PEAK program as a practising licence holder for that licence period. 

Ethics Module

Refer to the Core Elements page for details about the ethics module element.

Licence holders, practising and non-practising alike, are expected to complete one “new” module at the start of each licence period.

Continuing Knowledge Declaration

Refer to the Core Elements page for details about the continuing knowledge declaration element.

The continuing knowledge declaration is the reporting component of the PEAK program. Practising licence holders are asked to provide this information with each declaration: Activity name, Activity reporting cycle, Activity start date, Activity end date, Activity type, Activity objective and Activity duration.

Here are some details about the information to be entered with each continuing knowledge declaration:

Table illustrating components of the continuing knowledge declaration. Long description available at the link provided.

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PEO will recommend up to 30 hours of continuing knowledge hours for the year to practising licence holders alone. This recommendation is generated immediately after these licence holders complete the PEAK practice evaluation questionnaire, and is customized to each licence holder based on their responses to the questionnaire. To allow licence holders to seek and complete their continuing knowledge at their preferred learning style and pace, the recommendation is described in terms of number of hours and not in terms of learning topic. Licence holders may report more continuing knowledge hours than was recommended.

PEO describes a “continuing knowledge activity” as any learning activity that maintains or enhances a licence holder’s engineering knowledge and competence. PEO describes a “professional practice activity” as any professional practice activity that involves the application of a licence holder’s existing engineering knowledge to their professional engineering activities for work, volunteer or pro bono projects. PEO does not recognize professional practice activities for continuing knowledge declarations (reports) for the PEAK program.

PEAK describes three learning categories for continuing knowledge activities: formal education, informal education and contributions to knowledge. When licence holders submit their continuing knowledge reports, PEO asks them to indicate the category associated with the continuing knowledge activity being reported.

  1. The "formal education" category describes learning that involves the licence holder acquiring engineering knowledge. Here, the licence holder must be evaluated and pass requirements to confirm the practitioner’s understanding of the content. Examples include attending courses and certification programs.
     
  2. The "informal education" category describes learning that involves the licence holder acquiring engineering knowledge, but not evaluated to confirm understanding of the content. Examples include conducting self-directed study; reviewing technical documents; being mentored on technical knowledge; and attending presentations/seminars/webinars, workshops and technical engineering tours.
     
  3. The "contributions to knowledge" category describes learning that involves the licence holder disseminating and sharing technical engineering knowledge to the engineering community. Examples include developing engineering best practices for employers, regulators and technical bodies; presenting technical engineering content and best practices; and publishing technical engineering information in university publications, technical journals and engineering-related media.

Continuing knowledge activities must have learning content of a technical engineering nature that helps practising licence holders maintain or enhance their competence to practise professional engineering. Here is a table of examples of activities, listed by learning activity type, that count towards your PEAK continuing knowledge hours:

Table providing examples of activities that count towards continuing knowledge activities. Long description available at the link provided.

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Continuing knowledge activities must have learning content of a technical engineering nature that helps practising licence holders maintain or enhance their competence to practise professional engineering. Here is a table of examples of activities that, generally, do not count towards your continuing knowledge hours for the PEAK program because they do not maintain or enhance the licence holder’s competence:

Table providing examples of activities that do not count towards continuing knowledge activities. Long description available at the link provided.

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The current version of the PEAK program does not require the submission of proof of completion of a learning activity; however, feel free to retain copies of such proofs for your other continuing knowledge planning and reporting needs. 

PEO asks licence holders to report the time spent on continuing knowledge activities in 15-minute increments on their continuing knowledge declaration forms. For a learning session with a mix of content that is relevant and irrelevant to the licence holder’s practice areas, licence holders are expected to self-determine the portion of the session that helps them maintain or enhance their competence to practise professional engineering.

Licence holders who already complete learning activities for other programs—by employers, other regulators or technical associations—that align with the PEO description for continuing knowledge activities could consider reporting those learning activities for the PEAK program. 

PEO encourages and empowers licence holders to identify and pursue learning activities with content that licence holders deem to be relevant and sufficiently technical for their continuing professional development needs, as well as being suitably accessible to them. 

PEO does not prescribe, review, validate, or accredit continuing knowledge activities and the content. PEO does not prescribe, review, pre-approve, prequalify, or endorse providers of continuing knowledge activities. 

Activities count towards your continuing knowledge hours when they are learning sessions with technical knowledge that maintain or update your competence in engineering. Activities dealing with other professional development skills—such as communications, project management, scheduling, leadership, equity, business management—generally do not count towards your continuing knowledge hours. 

However, PEO recognizes learning sessions with content on the “management of engineering activities” as continuing knowledge activities when those activities reinforce or supplement knowledge of how to appropriately manage acts of professional engineering in a competent and professional manner. These activities would involve an understanding of the requirements for carrying out acts of professional engineering as per PEO guidelines and the Professional Engineers Act for Ontario. Managing engineering activities requires knowledge of the responsibilities of professional engineers, an understanding of codes and standards, and knowledge of best practices in engineering activities to properly allocate licence holders with appropriate skills. 

Activities count towards your continuing knowledge hours when they are learning sessions with technical knowledge that maintain or update your competence in engineering. Activities dealing with other professional development skills—such as communications, project management, scheduling, leadership, equity, business management—generally do not count towards your continuing knowledge hours. 

However, PEO recognizes learning sessions with content on the “communication of engineering information” as continuing knowledge activities when those activities reinforce or supplement knowledge of how to appropriately communicate acts of professional engineering in a competent and professional manner. These activities would involve an understanding of the engineering disciplines involved, the responsibilities of professional engineers, an understanding of codes and standards, and knowledge of best practices in engineering activities, and an understanding of the requirements for carrying out acts of professional engineering as per PEO guidelines and the Professional Engineers Act for Ontario. 

Activities count towards your continuing knowledge hours when they are structured learning sessions with technical knowledge that maintain or update your competence in engineering. While staying knowledgeable about most health and safety protocols—like training or being trained to work safely at heights, follow the workplace hazardous materials information system or conduct tests and field work for engineering purposes—would not align with the PEAK program, some continuing knowledge activities that involve health and safety issues would. 

PEO recognizes learning sessions with content on “health and safety issues” as continuing knowledge activities when those activities reinforce or supplement knowledge of how to appropriately develop and manage engineering health and safety issues in a competent and professional manner. These activities would involve developing health and safety protocols and involve an understanding of unsafe situations, the technical engineering knowledge related to those situations, the responsibilities of professional engineers, and the best practices in health and safety issues and engineering. These activities could include the time spent to research these protocols, develop them, and present them for training purposes. 

Providers of continuing knowledge activities are offered the following suggestions regarding the advertising of their learning activities in relation to PEAK: 

  1. PEAK encourages PEO licence holders to engage in continuous learning in the areas of technical engineering knowledge, statutory and regulatory knowledge, and engineering professionalism and ethics, and acquired across any available and affordable learning format. 

  1. PEAK is a uniquely practitioner-driven program where licence holders decide whether a learning activity is adequate for their continuing competence needs as well as their reporting needs for PEAK. This involves the licence holders: 

    • Self-identifying which activity content to pursue and which activity providers to seek out. 

    • Completing the activities. 

    • Reporting their completed activities to PEO through an online PEAK reporting form, and marking the true time they spent on the activities (1 hour spent is 1 hour marked).

  2. PEAK assigns to practising licence holders a CPD recommendation of up to 30 hours towards continuing knowledge activities for each yearly licence period. 

  3. PEO does not endorse any provider of continuing knowledge activities; nor does PEO validate or accredit any continuing knowledge activity. However, providers may advertise their events as offering technical or regulatory knowledge that participating practitioners may consider for their continuing professional development (CPD) needs, at the practitioner’s discretion, depending on the rules for the CPD program they are completing. Also, providers may supply badges and certificates of attendance or completion but these are not required for PEAK. Having said that, providers should never suggest that PEO or PEAK has endorsed, accredited or evaluated any part of the learning activities being provided or advertisements for the learning activities. 

Note: PEO does not arrange, prequalify or endorse sessions which count towards PEAK-relevant learning. However, local PEO chapters may provide professional development activities.