Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the PEAK program?
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.
2. What is the purpose of the PEAK program?
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:
PEAK applies to PEO professional engineer or limited licence holders.
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:
Completion status for each PEAK element- Practice evaluation questionnaire (for practising licence holders only).
- Ethics module.
- Continuing knowledge declaration (for practising licence holders only).
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.
3. Who benefits from the PEAK program?
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.
4. Is the PEAK program mandatory?
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.
5. How do I complete the PEAK program?
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.
6. What is my Licence Status versus my Practising Status?
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.
7. Am I in a practising or non-practising situation?
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.
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 email@example.com, 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.
8. How does the PEAK program apply to first-year and newly-reinstated licence holders?
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.
9. How does the PEAK program apply to engineering teachers?
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.
10. How does the PEAK program apply to retired engineers?
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.