We provide resources to assist our stakeholders in understanding our regulatory role and how we protect the public interest.
As part of its regulatory mandate, PEO establishes, maintains and develops: standards of knowledge and skill; standards of practice for the profession; standards of professional ethics; and promotes public awareness of its role. The following are resources to assist PEO stakeholders--licence holders, applicants, and the public--in understanding their roles and responsibilities and the regulator’s work protecting the public interest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does PEO have some type of affinity agreement for reduced premiums with insurance companies providing professional liability insurance?
PEO does not have any arrangement with insurance companies for these products. Visit Group Benefits for information about affinity programs offered through Engineers Canada and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.
I am a Certificate of Authorization holder. The Professional Engineers Act gives me the option to forego insurance as long as I disclose to my clients that I have none. Does this eliminate my risk of being sued?
Do I need professional liability insurance?
The Professional Engineers Act requires a Certificate of Authorization (C of A) holder to either have professional liability insurance or agree to compulsory disclosure. This is an undertaking to provide each client with a letter stating that the holder does not have insurance. The Act does provide an exemption for engineering businesses that provide engineering services that may involve pollution, nuclear, aviation or shipping hazards. However these firms must have insurance or provide compulsory disclosure for services provided in other than these named areas of practice. Normally employee engineers working for Certificate of Authorization holders that have professional liability insurance are covered by the employer's policy. Engineers working for these firms, especially if they are named on the C of A as taking responsibility for the engineering activities, should review their exposure to liability with the firm’s insurer. If you work for a Certificate of Authorization holding firm that does not have professional liability coverage you should investigate how a lawsuit against the firm might affect you. Other employee engineers should check with their employer's insurance company to see if they are covered for professional negligence or errors and omissions.
How do I obtain a C of A?
The initial application fee for a Certificate of Authorization is $904 (application $452 + annual fee $452, inclusive of taxes). Upon approval the Certificate of Authorization is renewable annually for $452.
If you have any questions about C of A requirements or would like an application form, please contact us.
What are the consequences of offering engineering services without a C of A?
If you operate without a C of A, you are contravening the Professional Engineers Act. Such contravention may result in PEO enforcing the provisions of Section 40 of the Act against you, which can lead to fines of up to $25,000 for a first offence and up to $50,000 for any subsequent offence. In addition, a complaint may be pursued through the association's discipline process against licensed members who operate without a C of A (see Section 72(g) of Regulation 941). PEO has guidelines and publications dealing with areas of interest to C of A holders.
What are the requirements for a C of A?
Section 47(1) of the Regulation 941 made under the Professional Engineers Act requires that an applicant for a C of A designate a PEO licence holder who is an employee or partner in the firm to assume professional responsibility for the services provided. Generally, C of A holders are required to carry professional liability insurance as laid out in the regulations under the Professional Engineers Act. In the absence of insurance, they are required to disclose to each and every client that they do not hold liability insurance, and obtain the client's written acknowledgement of this disclosure.
Are you providing professional engineering services to the public?
An examination of your practice will help you determine whether you are offering or providing engineering services to the public. The public is usually legally defined as any person or entity with whom you have an arm's length relationship. For example:
- If you "hang out your shingle"; advertise and promote yourself - either personally or through a legal entity such as a company or partnership - as offering professional engineering services, a C of A is required.
- If you provide professional engineering services to the public through the sale of a product that is custom-designed or an original (as opposed to an off-the-shelf product), a C of A is required.
- If you work for others, but offer professional engineering services directly to the public on a part-time, moonlighting, or volunteer basis, you must hold a C of A. Under these circumstances, you should also, as a matter of professional courtesy, inform your employer that you are undertaking such work, in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest. In addition, you should provide your client with a written statement of the nature of your status as an employee and the attendant limitations on your services to the client.
In short, if you are practising professional engineering and engaging in the business of offering or providing those services to anyone but yourself or your employer, you require a C of A. In recent years, firms have increasingly secured engineering staff through a contract of service. But you may still be an employee for the purposes of licensure and thus not require a C of A if:
- you work exclusively for a particular firm;
- your employment contract addresses non-disclosure, ability to control work hours and time off, expectations related to performance, notice, termination and remuneration;
- your expenses are reimbursed
- you are paid a salary or wage;
- you are provided an office and equipment on business premises;
- have set work hours;
- you are provided benefits, e.g. vacation pay;
- your work is covered under the firm's professional liability insurance policy.
However, if the firm requiring your engineering expertise offers a contract for service, a Certificate of Authorization will likely be required. You are likely working under a contract for service and would thus require a C of A if:
- your contract indicates an independent contract or relationship, or the firm purchases your time from an agency;
- you are free to provide your business services to more than one firm;
- you invoice the business for your time;
- you are not paid if services are not performed;
- you are not covered by the firm's professional liability insurance;
- your hours of work are not restricted;
- you receive no vacation pay or bonuses.
Are you practising professional engineering?
The practice of professional engineering is defined in section 1 of the Professional Engineers Act and comprises three tests. Professional engineering is:
- any act of designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising, or the managing of any of these acts;
- wherein the safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment is concerned, and
- that requires the application of engineering principles.
If what you do meets all three tests, you are practising professional engineering and must be licensed by the association.
Who do I contact should I have questions?
All questions should be emailed to FinancialCreditProgram@peo.on.ca.