PEO is actively pursuing various opportunities to simplify and streamline our licensing system. Our aim is to create a more efficient, transparent and objective application system that is fair to applicants, consistent with a legislative scheme focused on public protection and complies with requirements imposed by the provincial government through recent amendments to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act (FARPACTA). Ultimately, PEO is committed to a licensing system that ensures all qualified applicants are licensed fairly and without undue delay so they can actively work in their chosen profession.
PEO began work on improving its licensing system in 2019, following recommendations from both the Ontario Fairness Commissioner (OFC) and an external regulatory performance review that identified areas where we could be more efficient, transparent and objective in our licensing processes and decisions.
Both the OFC and performance review found that PEO’s licensing processes were overly complex, lengthy and subjective.
The performance review recommended that PEO implement the OFC recommendations and simplify and streamline its licensure processes.
Since this review, and as part of its ongoing transformation journey, PEO has committed to addressing and fulfilling the recommendations from the OFC and performance review through a Council-approved Action Plan, including building a licensing system that is straightforward, timely, objective and meets requirements under the Professional Engineers Act and its regulations.
Working for Workers Act, 2021 and Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act amendments
More recently, PEO received greater clarity on the provincial government’s expectations around licensing and timeframes with the passage of the Working for Workers Act, 2021, which included significant changes to FARPACTA. PEO— along with other professions under FARPACTA such as law, architecture and veterinary medicine—must comply with these amendments over 2023.
The FARPACTA amendments require affected regulators to review and revise our licensing systems as necessary to comply with the legislation over 2023. The most significant amendments require that:
- Ninety per cent of licence applicants must receive a licensing decision within six months; and an applicant already licensed in another province or territory must receive a decision within 30 business days. All licence applicants must receive confirmation of a completed application within 10 days of applying, or information must be provided as to what documentation or application material is missing. PEO must comply with this amendment by July 2023;
- A regulator’s licensing process must not include a Canadian work experience requirement unless a significant health and safety risk to the public in not doing so can be demonstrated. PEO must comply with this amendment by December 2023;
- An emergency plan must be created to continue licensing operations and processes to expedite renewals and new registrations in case of public emergencies like pandemics or natural disasters; and
- Language proficiency test results that are provided with respect to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada applications must be accepted, in addition to any test results that are currently accepted. PEO does not currently require any language proficiency tests from our applicants, so we do not see this impacting our current approach.
With the assistance of PEO staff, Council’s Regulatory Policy and Legislation Committee—the governance committee charged with overseeing policy development—will be developing various policy recommendations for Council’s consideration over the next several months related to our licensing system that adhere to principles of transparency, objectivity and impartiality in order to deliver timely, credible registration decisions.
To date, PEO has worked to streamline licensing processes and become more objective in our licensing decisions by:
- Introducing a fully online P.Eng. application system;
- Converting former paper-based licence application files to digital files to enable streamlining and automation of processes and allow multiple PEO staff to access documents simultaneously; and
- Adopting the multiple-choice National Professional Practice Examination (NPPE) to replace the previous professional practice exam that had a short essay format. The NPPE follows all relevant standards detailed in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing to ensure that the exam program is valid, reliable and fair (psychometrically defensible).
Our commitment to this work was also cemented as a key pillar of PEO’s 2023–2025 Strategic Plan, which Council approved in June 2022. Specifically, we have committed to improving our licensing processes, without compromising public safety by:
- Enhancing the application process so that it is fair, transparent, accessible and efficient and maintains competency and complies with FARPACTA by July 1, 2023;
- Reviewing licensing business processes and implementing changes to improve efficiency without sacrificing public safety or information security by January 1, 2025; and
- Ensuring all licensing activities reflect the values of equity, diversity and inclusion.
As PEO works to meet the FARPACTA requirements and our own goals around improving our licensing system without compromising public safety, we will provide regular updates on our progress. Watch this web page, PEO social media, Engineering Dimensions articles and other PEO communications for the latest information.