Beginning in January 2023, continuing professional development (CPD) will become a required component for professional engineers and limited licence holders to maintain their licence every calendar year. This new requirement will not apply to provisional and temporary licence holders or engineering interns.
The new requirements are based on the voluntary Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program that has been piloted for more than 5 years. The new mandatory PEAK program supports PEO’s public interest mandate by helping to ensure that licence holders practise competently and ethically. In turn, licence holders demonstrate their commitment to continually improving their engineering practice.
The new requirements outlined in the new regulation section 51.2 of Regulation 941 under the Professional Engineers Act in Ontario will take effect on January 1, 2023. This regulation section describes an annual requirement for continuing education and professional development and how PEO will administer, monitor and enforce this requirement.
Everything you need to know about the new, mandatory PEAK program is provided below in the video introduction and the following sections.
Professional engineers and limited licence holders must complete the PEAK program every calendar year, beginning in January 2023. The program will not apply to provisional and temporary licence holders or engineering interns.
The program is laid out in three steps to be completed annually. The three elements of the program are:
- Practice Evaluation—A self-administered assessment consisting of a practice status declaration and either a:
- Practice Evaluation Questionnaire—for a "practising" licence holder* to determine their target CPD hours for the year (which will be a personalized target of up to 30 hours).
- Non-practising Survey—for a "not practising" licence holder* to describe their non-practising situation and prospect of practising again.
- Professional Practice Module—A self-paced learning module for every licence holder (whether practising or not practising) that covers regulatory topics such as professional practice, engineering ethics and regulatory processes. This module may also provide an opportunity to update practitioner skill and knowledge on other relevant topics, such as the need to promote equity, diversity and inclusion within the profession, and the role played by engineers in the safeguarding of the public welfare and the environment.
- Continuing Professional Development Report—A reporting mechanism for a "practising" licence holder* to respond to their personalized CPD target for the year, as determined by the Practice Evaluation Questionnaire.
* In some instances, a licence holder who is not currently practising and is not subject to any practice restrictions could choose to complete the program as a “practising” licence holder by completing all three elements of the program.
Individuals completing the mandatory PEAK program will be assigned elements of the program at the start of each year based on their practice status.
The following table indicates the annual program requirements and corresponding deadlines.
*In some instances, a licence holder who is not currently practising and is not subject to any practice restrictions could choose to complete the program as a “practising” licence holder by completing all three elements of the program.
A “practising” individual must complete all three elements of the PEAK program every calendar year:
- The Practice Evaluation is due January 31;
- The Professional Practice Module is due January 31; and
- The Continuing Professional Development Report is due December 31.
A “not practising” individual must complete two elements of the PEAK program every calendar year:
- The Practice Evaluation is due January 31; and
- The Professional Practice Module is due January 31.
Note: In some instances, a licence holder who is not currently practising and is not subject to any practice restrictions could choose to complete the program as a “practising” licence holder by completing all three elements of the program.
Practice Status will reflect whether an individual who is recorded on the PEO register is engaged in the practice of professional engineering. Two practice status options will be available: Practising and Not Practising. Practice statuses will be displayed in their private PEO portal account.
The practice of professional engineering is described in section 1 of the Professional Engineers Act as: “any act of planning, designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising that requires the application of engineering principles and concerns the safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment, or the managing of any such act.”
A “practising” status means the individual is currently engaged, or intends to engage this year, in the practice of professional engineering in Ontario, including practising on a part-time or occasional basis, whether or not they are paid for their practice activities. A practising licence holder is described by any of the following situations, and this individual must complete three elements of the PEAK program (practice evaluation; professional practice module; and CPD report):
- An individual who is currently practising professional engineering, regardless of their job title, their hierarchical position at work, whether the practice activities were donated or paid, whether the activities were full-time or occasional, or whether they used their licence seal.
- A licence holder who is an engineering lecturer who delivers—or who supervises students and research assistants who deliver—contract work or research for parties outside the educational institution, provide expert opinions, provide consulting services, or carry out any other type of paid or volunteer work that involves the activities identified in the definition of the practice of professional engineering.
A “not practising” status means the individual is not currently engaged, or not intending to engage, in the practice of professional engineering this year in Ontario, not even on a part-time or occasional basis. This definition includes an individual who is not currently allowed to engage in the practice of professional engineering because of a PEO-imposed practice restriction. A “not practising” licence holder or individual is described by any of the following situations, and this individual must complete two elements of the PEAK program (practice evaluation; and professional practice module):
- A licence holder who self-declares or elects a “not practising” status because they are not currently practising, not even on a volunteer, pro bono or unpaid basis—such as retirees; individuals on study leave; individuals on parental or caregiver leave, individuals on medical leave; individuals who are unemployed; and individuals working in a non-practising role regardless of whether they work in or outside the field of engineering.
- A licence holder who is an engineering lecturer who only teaches, supervises student projects or carries out basic research with an outcome that would not be directly used or relied upon by others. Such teaching and educational activities about engineering content do not fall within the scope of the practice of professional engineering.
- A licence holder enrolled in fee remission (PEO’s reduced fee program).
- An individual with a suspended licence.
However in some instances, a licence holder who is not currently practising and is not subject to any practice restrictions could choose to complete the program as a “practising” licence holder by completing all three elements of the program.
Licence Status will reflect whether PEO permits an individual who is recorded on the PEO register to practise professional engineering. Two licence status options will be available: Permitted to practise, Not permitted to practise. Licence statuses will be displayed on the public-facing PEO directory.
The following table shows the licence status options that will be available to every individual who is recorded on PEO’s register.
Note: A person with a suspended licence cannot call themselves a professional engineer or limited licence holder, cannot use the licence title, cannot practise professional engineering and they cannot be the designated person for certificates of authorization under section 47 of the Professional Engineers Act.
From January 2023, to access the CPD program the licence holder must log in to their PEO portal account and select the “PEAK” menu to start. Here, the licence holder can access the Practice Evaluation, complete the Professional Practice Module, and submit their CPD hours to the Continuing Professional Development Report.
A CPD activity will be admissible for the PEAK program if the learning content covered by the activity will help the licence holder reduce their professional practice risks. A CPD activity will count if the learning activity addresses knowledge of the responsibilities of professional engineers, understanding of pertinent codes and standards, and knowledge of best practices in acts of professional engineering, all of which must be relevant to their practice areas.
Specifically, the CPD activity must meet these criteria:
- Must be aimed at helping the licence holder maintain (or enhancing) their competence to practise professional engineering;
- Must have engineering learning content that is directly related to their engineering practice area(s);
- Must address technical or regulatory knowledge about acts of professional engineering; and
- Must not be their professional practice hours or their acts of professional engineering.
The program will accept all learning formats since individuals learn in different ways and have unique personal circumstances. This means that even though an individual must choose admissible CPD activities, they may participate in activities in their preferred learning format. These include admissible activities that are free or paid, undertakings that are self-paced or instructor-led, sessions that are delivered virtually or in person or in a hybrid manner, as well as events that are held locally or overseas.
Examples of activities include studying and reading, attending seminars and webinars, passing technical courses, delivering engineering lectures, presentations or publications, developing engineering guidelines, and participating in technical mentoring.
Note: CPD activities can be accrued during work hours. However, professional practice work will not count as a valid CPD activity for the program.
Compliance audits and administrative sanctions, including licence suspension for any overdue elements of the program, will begin in 2024.
From 2024, failing to complete program elements could result in an administrative licence suspension.
From 2024, failing to respond to a PEO request for information related to an audit could result in an administrative licence suspension.
From 2024, failing an audit of submissions for the program could result in a referral for investigation according to the PEO complaints process.
Note: A person with a suspended licence cannot call themselves a professional engineer or limited licence holder, cannot use the licence title, cannot practise professional engineering and they cannot be the designated person for certificate of authorization under section 47 of Regulation 941 of the Professional Engineers Act. This suspension will be lifted as soon as all overdue elements of the program that caused the suspension are completed.
PEO will transition from the voluntary PEAK program to the mandatory version in January 2023. The voluntary program will conclude at the end of December 2022. Licence holders who want to keep their records from the voluntary program must print their program information from the PEO portal by December 31, 2022, as these records will not be transferred to the mandatory program.
The mandatory version will reflect the following changes:
- A program cycle that runs on the calendar year.
- A new and improved layout for the online program.
- New labels for elements of the program.
- PEO's new labels for Licence Status.
- From 2024, an administrative licence suspension may be applied every March 1 for overdue program elements.
- From 2024, submissions to the program could be audited by PEO for compliance.
PEO has embarked on a communications campaign to provide information about the incoming mandatory version of the PEAK program. Notable communications tactics include the following:
As part of our mandate to protect the public interest, PEO has a duty to ensure all licence holders meet standards of learning, professional competence and professional conduct that are appropriate for the engineering services they provide.
Mandatory CPD is a quality improvement initiative that complements PEO’s other public protection activities including licensing, complaints and discipline, and practice standards and guidelines. It is a proactive measure to ensure competence and reflects a profession-wide commitment to quality.
The new CPD requirement, established in Ontario Regulation 353/22 under the Professional Engineers Act, reflects PEO’s dedication to promoting and increasing the knowledge, skill, and proficiency of its licence holders, and administering the Professional Engineers Act to serve and protect the public interest. Implementing a mandatory program also conforms with recommendations from several key government-related stakeholders, and meets the regulatory expectations that have been communicated by the Attorney General of Ontario, who is the Minister with responsibility for PEO and the Professional Engineers Act.
Although the primary goal of the CPD program is to support and enhance PEO’s public interest mandate, the program also provides value to licence holders, including:
- Providing a benchmark and assurance that licence holders are maintaining competency;
- Showing the public and employers that licence holders are qualified and up to date;
- Demonstrating the commitment of licence holders to continually improving their engineering practice;
- Helping licence holders plan their professional goals;
- Enhancing the ability of licence holders to work across Canada; and
- Completing the requirements may provide licence holders with valuable networking opportunities.
Between April 12, 2022 and May 6, 2022, PEO conducted an online public survey to promote awareness of the impending mandatory program and generate a benchmark on how the program is perceived by key stakeholders, including licence holders, those in the greater engineering community and the public. The survey was completed by nearly 8800 respondents.
- 92% identified as PEO licence holders;
- 76% indicated that a custom approach that establishes a personalized amount of CPD hours proportional to a licence holder's practice risk to the public would be more practical than a one-size-fits-all approach that assigns a fixed amount of CPD hours to all licence holders regardless of individual practice risk to the public;
- 81% thought that those who identify as a non-practising licence holder should be assigned less CPD hours than a practising licence holder or no CPD hours at all;
- 45% thought it is important or very important to include a refresher module on professional practice and ethics as part of the mandatory CPD program; and
- 66% indicated it is important or very important to have PEO accept CPD hours for activities that may not be verifiable (e.g., self-study of a technical journal).
Further consultations about CPD will be developed over the coming months and will continue to be implemented once the program becomes mandatory in 2023. This will help ensure that the program is continuously improved and is responsive to input from a variety of sources, to meet the needs of licence holders while serving the public interest.
PEAK program history
PEO developed initiatives on continuing competence for licence holders prior to introducing the voluntary version of the PEAK program in 2017. Notable initiatives included the Professional Excellence Program (1980s and 1990s), Voluntary Annual Reporting (2000s) and Professional Development System (2000s and 2010s).
- 2014 October - Report from the commission of inquiry into the collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario in 2012. The report recommended a mandatory continuing professional development program for PEO licence holders within 18 months of the commissioner’s report.
- 2015 November - Report from PEO's Continuing Professional Development, Competence and Quality Assurance (CPDCQA) Task Force outlining the guiding principles for a continuing professional development program.
- 2016 September - Report from PEO's Continuing Professional Competence Program (CP)2 Task Force on the continuing professional competence program.
- 2017 March - PEO launched the Practice Evaluation and Knowledge program for professional engineers and limited licence holders to participate on a voluntary or optional basis.
- 2017 December - Amendment to subsection 7(1)(27) of the Professional Engineers Act empowers Council to make regulations for continuing education and professional development programs for PEO licence holders including developing programs, making compliance mandatory and applying sanctions for non-compliance.
- 2019 April
- Jury's verdict from the coroner's inquest into the death of Scott Johnson in 2012. The verdict recommended an annual, mandatory continuing professional development program for PEO licence holders.
- Report from PEO's external regulatory review. The report recommended a mandatory continuing professional development program for PEO licence holders.
- 2019 June
- Council carries the PEAK program from being a pilot project to an operating program while continuing with the existing program rules.
- PEO's report after Year 2 of the PEAK program.
- 2019 September - PEO Council accepts the Registrar’s Action Plan to address the recommendations from the April 2019 external review of PEO’s regulatory activities. And Council directs the Registrar to propose the legislative framework needed for a mandatory continuing professional development program and to review the PEAK program.
- 2021 February - PEO Council rescinded its September 2015 policy intent to ask licence holders to ratify in a referendum any mandatory requirement to participate in a CPD program. This decision allowed PEO to move forward with the creation of a mandatory CPD program for its licence holders as soon as any required legislative and operational tasks have been completed.
- 2022 April - Ontario Cabinet and PEO Council approve Regulation 353/22 which establishes section 51.2 of Regulation 941 that will take effect on January 1, 2023, stipulating the continuing education and professional development requirements for licence holders.
Contact the PEAK program team for more information by email at peoPEAK@peo.on.ca or by phone
Monday through Friday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
40 Sheppard Avenue West, Suite 101
416.840.1117; or by extension 1117 when calling 416.224.1100 or toll-free 1.800.339.3716