Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve been in business for 20 years and have a storeroom full of drawings, correspondence and specifications. How long do I have to keep my project files? What kind of files should I keep?
There is no legal requirement stipulating how long documents must be retained. The documents belong to the person who created them and that person is at liberty to do with them as s/he sees fit. The most pressing reason for keeping documents is the possibility of future legal action. At present there is essentially no period of limitation so it is possible that someone can bring legal action against an engineer many years after a project is completed. Since document retention is really a matter of legal protection, you should discuss the matter with your insurance provider.
I offer my engineering expertise as a volunteer. If I receive no payment for these services, why do I need a Certificate of Authorization?
The Professional Engineers Act makes no distinction between providing professional engineering services for a fee or on a volunteer basis. The individual or volunteer organization providing professional engineering services will need a Certificate of Authorization. You should also remember that providing services as a volunteer does not make one immune to liability. Since either the client or a third party affected by the work can bring a lawsuit against the engineer or the volunteer organization, volunteers are urged to investigate their need for professional liability insurance.
I'm retired but I've been asked to work occasionally for my former employer. Do I need a Certificate of Authorization?
This depends on whether you plan to work as an independent contractor or as a contract employee. Both arrangements have benefits for you and your employer but there are significant differences in taxation, compensation and professional responsibility. You should discuss with your former employer which arrangement to use prior to coming to an agreement on how you will provide services. PEO has published guidelines on both. Since an independent contractor is a sole proprietorship you will require a Certificate of Authorization if you decide to make this arrangement. PEO reminds professional engineers registered as retired and are paying reduced fees that they are not entitled to practice professional engineering either for payment or as a volunteer.
If I am the only P.Eng. listed on a firm's Certificate of Authorization, what happens when I resign?
The Certificate of Authorization will be suspended for a period of 90 days at which time if no suitable P.Eng. has been found by the firm to replace you, the Certificate will be revoked.
I'm listed on my employer's Certificate of Authorization. What should I do if I leave that firm?
Notify PEO in writing immediately about your change of employment status.
There is large scale non-compliance with the Act in Ontario. Why should I get a Certificate of Authorization when I know my competitors don't have one and PEO is not enforcing the Act?
PEO has an active enforcement policy that investigates and prosecutes all reported violations of the Professional Engineers Act. If your competition is providing engineering services to the public but does not have a Certificate of Authorization then that entity is in violation of the Act. Notify PEO's Enforcement department if you encounter this situation.
Why do I need a Certificate of Authorization if I am not sealing drawings?
The Professional Engineers Act stipulates that an entity requires a Certificate of Authorization if it is providing engineering services to the public. These services may not necessarily involve the production of drawings. Professional engineers may provide advice about technology, review construction, perform health and safety audits, give opinions about mineral properties, or provide expert testimony. Though none of these activities involve the preparation of drawings, each is an act of providing engineering services and, therefore, the entity requires a Certificate of Authorization. However, if you provide engineering services you should ask yourself this question: why are you not sealing documents that you provide to a client or other external body? Section 53 of the Professional Engineers Act governs the requirement for sealing of documents. You are required to seal all drawings and other documents provided as part of engineering services done for an external entity, regardless of whether or not there is other legislation (such as the Building Code Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, or Regulation for Industrial Facilities) that specifically requires a engineer's seal. In order words, any document of an engineering nature prepared for a client or as part of the work done for a client (this includes drawings for custom equipment) must be sealed.
I provide engineering services to other companies; not to the public? Do I need a Certificate of Authorization?
"Public" does not mean public institutions or society in general; it means an entity (business, individual, government, charity) that is at an "arm's-length" relationship to the engineer and could rightly be called a client. If an employer utilizes engineers to provide engineering services within the employer's domain only, then the employer does not need a Certificate of Authorization. If however, the employer (government, manufacturer, consulting firm or engineer working as a sole proprietor) provides engineering services outside the employer's domain (i.e. to the public) then the employer requires a C of A.
Why do I need a Certificate of Authorization if I already have my P.Eng. licence?
Section 12 (2) of the Professional Engineers Act stipulates that every entity (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation) that offers or provides professional engineering services to the public requires a Certificate of Authorization. While the licence entitles an individual to practice as a professional engineer, the Certificate is required to provide PEO with a means for governing the activities of entities. A sole proprietorship is a business entity and is distinct from the individual practitioner.
I’d like to go into business on my own. What do I need to do?
Any entity (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation) that offers or provides professional engineering services to the public must have a Certificate of Authorization. This requirement is stipulated in Section 12(2) of the Professional Engineers Act.