Certificate of Authorization
In Ontario, professional engineers who provide engineering services directly to the public must have a certificate of authorization (C of A).
This certificate is issued by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) to allow individuals and business entities to offer and provide professional engineering services to the public, as distinct from a licence issued to individuals to practise professional engineering. Individuals and firms holding a C of A from PEO must adhere to the professional liability insurance regulations required by the Professional Engineers Act.
The term "providing professional engineering services to the public" is used in conjunction with two specific regulatory issues mentioned in the act: the sealing of engineering documents and the need for a C of A. 'The public' is considered to be anyone other than the professional engineer or the professional engineer's employer. Therefore, a P.Eng. is providing professional engineering services to the public when the work is done for the benefit of an individual, corporation, government or other entity that is not the engineer's employer.
Note: Holding a C of A alone does not entitle professional engineers to call themselves “consulting engineers” or advertise their services as consulting engineers. Firms also require permission from PEO to use the title “consulting engineers” in their corporate names.
Do I need a Certificate of Authorization?
Are you offering services to the public or engaging in the business of providing services to the public within the practice of professional engineering?
The Professional Engineers Act states: “no person shall offer to the public or engage in the business of providing to the public services that are within the practice of professional engineering except under and in accordance with a certificate of authorization.” In the act, “person” means an individual or an entity through which services are provided.
Is the service professional engineering?
According to the Professional Engineers Act, the “practice of professional engineering” means “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.”
- Are you planning, designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising, or managing any of these acts?
- Are engineering principles required to carry out the act?
- Does the act concern the safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare or the environment?
If you can answer yes to all three questions, the service you are offering or providing is professional engineering and requires a C of A from PEO.
Every holder of a C of A must not offer or provide to the public services within the practice of professional engineering unless the holder is insured for professional liability in accordance with the provisions in section 74(1) of Regulation 941/90, unless:
- the holder participates in the Indemnity Plan of the Ontario Association of Architects and the holder’s practice is limited to professional activities covered by that plan;
- substantially all claims arising out of the service within the practice of professional engineering would be covered by other insurance whose terms of coverage are not materially less than the minimum requirements set out in section 74(1);
- the professional liability insurance would be for pollution hazards, nuclear hazards, aviation hazards or shipping hazards; or
- before entering into an agreement to provide professional engineering services, the holder notifies each person to whom the holder intends to provide the services that the holder is not insured in accordance with the minimum requirements of section 74(1) and receives from each of them written authority to provide the services without that insurance.
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.
How do I obtain a C of A?
The initial application fee for a Certificate of Authorization is $904 (application $452 + annual fee $452). 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consulting Engineer Designation
PEO's "consulting engineer" designation helps promote recognition of engineers in independent practice. Only a member who has been designated as a consulting engineer by PEO can use the restricted title “consulting engineer.” Holding a Certificate of Authorization (C of A) from PEO alone does not entitle professional engineers to call themselves “consulting engineers” or advertise their services as consulting engineers. Firms also require permission from PEO to use the title “consulting engineers” in their corporate names.
Requirements for designation as a consulting engineer include:
- being a PEO member in good standing;
- having at least five years of experience satisfactory to Council, in excess of the four-year experience requirement for licensure;
- being "primarily engaged" in the independent practice of professional engineering in Ontario for the last two years. To be considered primarily engaged in independent practice, applicants must either derive at least 50 per cent of their earned annual income from consulting engineering or spend at least 50 per cent of their work time in consulting. The applicant must also either hold a C of A from PEO, or be a partner or an employee of a firm holding a C of A, in which case they must be designated in the firm's C of A application as a P. Eng. who assumes responsibility for, and supervises, the firm's professional engineering services.
For more information on the Consulting Engineer Designation program, contact Imelda Suarez at (416) 840-1051 or email@example.com.