Mandatory CPD

Beginning in January 2023, continuing professional development (CPD) will become a required component for professional engineers and limited licence holders on a calendar basis to maintain their licence. The program will not apply to provisional and temporary licence holders or engineering interns.

The new mandatory program, which is based on the voluntary Practice Evaluation and Knowledge (PEAK) program piloted since March 2017, 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.

Everything you need to know about the program is provided below.
 

Professional engineers and limited licence holders must complete the program on a calendar basis, beginning in January 2023. The program will not apply to provisional and temporary licence holders or engineering interns.

The key elements of the annual mandatory program include:

  1. Practice Evaluation—A self-administered assessment consisting of a practice status declaration and:
    • Practice evaluation questionnaire—for a "practising" person* to determine their personalized CPD target of up to 30 hours for that year.
    • Non-practising survey—for a "not practising" person to describe their non-practising situation and prospect of practising again.
       
  2. Professional Practice Module—A self-paced learning module for all persons (both practising and 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.
     
  3. Continuing Professional Development Report—A reporting mechanism for a "practising" person* 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 complete the program as a “practising” licence holder by completing all three elements of the program.

The impending section 51.2 of Regulation 941 presents the continuing education and professional development requirements for licence holders. Persons 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.

Table showing the three elements of the PEAK program based on practice and licence statuses and corresponding deadlines.

* In some instances, a licence holder who is not currently practising and is not subject to any practice restrictions could complete the program as a “practising” licence holder by completing all three elements of the program.

Image description

Practising

A “practising” person must complete all three elements of the PEAK program every year:

  1. The Practice Evaluation is due January 31;
  2. The Professional Practice Module is due January 31; and
  3. The Continuing Professional Development Report is due December 31.

Infographic showing the participation timeline and deadlines for the three elements of the PEAK program.

Image description

Not practising

A “not practising” person must complete two elements of the PEAK program every year:

  1. The Practice Evaluation is due January 31; and
  2. The Professional Practice Module is due January 31.
     

Infographic showing the participation timeline and deadline for two elements of the PEAK program.

Image description

Note: In some instances, a licence holder who is not currently practising and is not subject to any practice restrictions could complete the program as a “practising” licence holder by completing all three elements of the program.

Practice Status will reflect whether a person 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 on every person’s private account in PEO's online portal.

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 person 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 person must complete three elements of the PEAK program (practice evaluation; professional practice module; and CPD report):

  • A person 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 person 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 a person who, based on a PEO-imposed restriction, is not allowed to engage that year in the practice of professional engineering. A non-practising licence holder can have either a “permitted to practise” or “not permitted to practise” licence status. A “not practising” licence holder or person is described by any of the following situations, and this person must complete two elements of the PEAK program (practice evaluation; and professional practice module):

  • A licence holder who self-declares/elects a “not practising” status because they are not currently practising, not even on a volunteer, pro bono or unpaid basis—such as retirees; persons on study leave; persons on parental or caregiver leave, persons on medical leave; persons who are unemployed; and persons 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).
  • A person with a suspended licence.


Note: In some instances, a licence holder who is not currently practising and is not subject to any practice restrictions could complete the program as a “practising” licence holder by completing all three elements of the program.

Licence Status will reflect whether PEO permits a person 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 person who is recorded on PEO’s register.

Table showing the licence status options.

Image description

Note: A person with a suspended licence cannot call themselves a licence holder or use the P.Eng. title, cannot practise professional engineering and they cannot be the designated person for certificates of authorization under section 47 of Regulation 941.

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 deemed admissible for the program if the learning content covered by the activity is intended to help the licence holder reduce their professional practice risks. Specifically, the activity must meet these criteria:

  1. Be aimed at helping the licence holder maintain their competence to practise professional engineering;
  2. Be directly relevant to their engineering practice area(s);
  3. Be sufficiently technical or regulatory in nature; and
  4. Be different from their professional practice work.

A licence holder will choose CPD activities that meet admissibility criteria as well as their preferred learning format. In other words, the program will recognize all learning formats equally: from instructor-led to self-paced activities; from in-person to virtual activities; from locally-led to globally-led activities; and from no-cost to paid activities. Learning formats include engaging in self-paced study or reading, attending a seminar or a course, delivering a lecture or presentation, developing engineering guidelines, or 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.

A person holding an administratively suspended licence for incomplete CPD requirements will not be able to call themselves a licence holder or use the P.Eng. title, cannot practise professional engineering and they cannot be the designated person for certificates of authorization under section 47 of Regulation 941. 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.
  • PEO’s updated licence status paradigm.
  • From 2024, an administrative licence suspension may be applied for elements still overdue every March 1.
  • From 2024, program submissions 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:

Table showing timeline of communication tactics

Image description

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.

Survey highlights:

  • 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).
     

View complete results

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
  • 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.