The repeal of section 12(3)(a) of the Professional Engineers Act, a.k.a. the “industrial exception”, was proposed as one of the amendments made under the Open for Business Act, 2010. The industrial exception allows unlicensed people to carry out engineering work on their employers’ machinery or equipment that is used to manufacture products. The repeal subsequently obtained royal assent, with an initial proclamation date of March 1, 2013. This was later deferred to September 1, 2013 and was ultimately postponed indefinitely by the provincial government.
In order to build a case to support the repeal, PEO undertook a research report to uncover causal links between worker injuries and fatalities in Ontario and the industrial exception. PEO researchers gathered statistics, court prosecutions and reports from Ministry of Labour investigations to analyze workplace incidents resulting from engineering work done by unlicensed employees.
The government later made the decision to cancel the repeal, and made its intentions known in the fall of 2015. Over 2016, PEO expressed disappointment with the government’s decision to halt proclamation of the repeal.
The government’s decision was eventually confirmed in June 2016, with the introduction of Bill 27, the Burden Reduction Act. Following a suspension for the 2016 general election, the bill was re-introduced as the Burden Reduction Act, 2017, and passed its second reading in the legislature in November 2016, before it was sent to the Standing Committee on General Government.
PEO stepped up its push against the industrial exception to MPPs as it was being debated at Queen’s Park. PEO met with all MPPs on the committee in late 2016 and early 2017 to present its position and provide new research data from its report.
The Repeal of the Industrial Exception Data Gathering and Analysis Research Report was completed in January 2017 and released publicly in February 2017. Four such incidents were found that resulted in worker injuries, including two fatalities.
Bill 27 was reviewed and debated during government committee hearings in February 2017, at which PEO presented its case.
On March 2, 2017, Bill 27 was presented for third reading and final debate in the legislature. The bill passed and the repeal was cancelled and cannot be proclaimed.
PEO maintains the view that the repeal of the industrial exception is a workplace safety issue and will now work to facilitate the sharing of relevant information between the association and the Ministry of Labour so that PEO may more effectively regulate engineers and the practice of professional engineering in Ontario in the public interest.