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Contact PEO to check

note many deficiencies in the drawings, and then

notice that the seal is twice the size of a professional
engineer’s seal. They turn the case over to PEO, Is this person really
He uses a business card that describes him as a “struc- which finds that this person is not a licensed profes-
tural engineer” and his company as “civil engineers”. sional engineer. a professional
On each occasion when the clients or building officials
check with PEO, they find that the “engineer” is not, The case goes to trial; the bogus engineer is found engineer?
nor has ever been, licensed, nor does his company hold guilty and placed on probation for two years. Fines
the required Certificate of Authorization. total $10,000. He is also ordered to pay $700 in resti-
tution to his former client.
This repeat offender is brought to trial no less than
four times in six years. Fines for all four convictions Comment: When PEO brings cases to court, it does so
total $85,000. The bogus engineer is placed on pro- under the Professional Engineers Act. Fines are speci-
bation and ordered to pay $8,000 restitution to a fied for offences under the Act and are paid to the
former client. When the offender does not comply, he province. PEO cannot prosecute to recover money lost
is arrested and jailed until he complies and pays by clients; occasionally, however, a judge will also order
PEO’s legal costs plus the restitution to the home- that the guilty party must pay restitution to former
owner. clients who paid for what they thought were profes-
sional engineering services.
Comment: The construction field is very competitive.
Clients look for assurance that the company hired is How can someone find out if a person is
capable of doing the work. While much construction licensed to practise professional engineering?
work is not engineering, it enhances clients’ confidence If you suspect that you have been dealing with some-
if they think that they are dealing with an engineer. To one who is pretending to be a professional engineer,
describe oneself as an engineer in this field is therefore you can call PEO’s hotline at 416-224-9528, ext. 1444.
to put oneself at an advantage. However, only those
who have completed all of the stringent requirements You can also call PEO document management centre
for licensure may describe themselves as structural or staff at 416-224-9528, ext. 1112 (toll free 1-800-339-
civil engineers. The best assurance is to check creden- 3716, ext. 1112) to verify that the person you are dealing
tials with PEO. with is licensed by PEO. Have the correct spelling of the
person’s name available, and as much other information
A Renovation Nightmare as possible, e.g. company name and location of office. If
A couple seeking to have renovations done on their you are informed that PEO has no record of such a person,
home are introduced to someone who hands them a you should ask to speak to the Manager, Enforcement
business card showing the letters P.Eng. after his and Prosecutions, who will investigate the matter and
name. He describes himself as a “structural engi- will begin by contacting you in order to obtain the neces-
neer”. They retain him to design the renovations to sary information in order to commence an investigation.
their home, and he prepares drawings that are sub-
mitted to the local building department bearing what
appears to be a professional engineer’s seal. Officials A guide to the enforcement of
the Professional Engineers Act
January 2010
Introduction the calculations and drawings for a project, but the Case Studies providers of engineering services know that the first
professional engineer has to take the responsibility of The following cases taken from PEO’s files demonstrate step in checking proposals is to check the qualifica-
Someone performing a medical act must be licensed ensuring that the project meets health, safety and envi- how PEO enforces the Act, to protect the people of tions of the proposer. In a one-year period recently,
to practise medicine. Someone auditing a public ronmental standards, meets all legal and ethical Ontario from the actions of unlicensed individuals. through diligent reporting from users of engineering
company must be licensed to practise public requirements, and uses the client’s funds responsibly. services, PEO uncovered 12 cases of people misrepre-
accounting. Similarly, someone performing profes- The professional engineer must answer to PEO if found P.Eng.–Or Not? senting themselves as professional engineers.
sional engineering work must be licensed to practise wanting in any of these areas. In attempts to obtain work from several government
professional engineering. agencies and consulting engineering firms, an Letters of Trust
How does PEO deal with contraventions of employee of a construction company passes out A licensed professional engineer receives a real
These regulations exist for a reason. Patients can the Act? business cards that include the letters P.Eng. after his estate flyer offering a free appraisal from an agent
die, fraud can go undetected, or buildings can col- Most cases that are investigated are brought to PEO’s name. His contacts at the government agencies and who uses the letters P.Eng. after his name. The pro-
lapse if these practitioners do not have the relevant attention by people working with professional engineers. consulting engineering firms are licensed profession- fessional engineer checks with PEO, and finds that
qualifications, experience and abilities. A profession- A building inspector may receive a set of sub- al engineers. As part of considering his pro- the agent is not a licensed professional engineer.
al licence tells the public that the practitioner has standard drawings, prompting a call to posals, they first check with Profes- PEO corresponds with the agent, telling him to
been trained to the required standards, understands PEO to check if the person is a profes- sional Engineers Ontario that this remove the P.Eng. from his marketing materials and
and accepts the profession’s legal and ethical sional engineer. Someone buying person is licensed. PEO has no submit the new materials to PEO as proof that he
responsibilities, is competent to practise, and is reg- engineering work may receive a record of him. has complied. Despite several such requests, the
ulated by a professional body that maintains the business card bearing the ini- agent does not submit revised marketing materials.
required standards. tials P.Eng. and may routinely PEO undertakes an investi- Further investigation reveals that the agent is contin-
check with PEO that the per- gation to obtain the full uing to use P.Eng. after his name on his business
In Ontario, professional engineering is governed son named is licensed. Most particulars of the offence. card and other marketing materials.
under the Professional Engineers Act. This provincial enforcement actions taken by This generally includes
legislation requires Professional Engineers Ontario PEO involve voluntary com- interviewing witnesses, PEO goes to court to obtain an order against the
(PEO) to govern the profession in the public interest. pliance by the individual or obtaining physical evi- agent. The judge orders the agent to refrain from repre-
Anyone wanting to practise professional engineer- company concerned. When dence, e.g. business cards, senting himself as a professional engineer and to sub-
ing in Ontario must be licensed by PEO. If providing PEO’s requests for compliance drawings or reports pre- mit revised marketing materials to PEO. He is ordered
professional engineering services to the public, that are ignored, it can take legal pared by the offender. to pay a portion of PEO’s legal costs.
person or firm must also hold a Certificate of Autho- action. The Professional Engineers
rization from PEO. Act specifies the maximum penalties The case goes to trial and the Comment: In business, anything that builds trust can
for various offences: employee is found guilty of attempt- be valuable. The letters P.Eng. are recognized and
How would someone contravene the Act? u For practising without a licence, ing to pass himself off as a professional respected, even in non-engineering fields. For this rea-
Anyone who uses the title “professional engineer” $25,000 for the first offence, $50,000 for engineer. Fines total $25,000. son, licensed professional engineers often maintain
or “engineer” without having a licence to practise subsequent offences; their licence even if they move out of engineering, so
engineering may be contravening the Professional Comment: Becoming a professional engineer is a that their business contacts will know that they have
u For using the title, description or seal without a
Engineers Act. The process of becoming a profes- lengthy and rigorous process. Those who earn the the credentials of a trusted profession. Anyone receiv-
licence, $10,000 for the first offence and $25,000
sional engineer is long and rigorous, because public P.Eng. carry significant responsibility, upon which ing a business card bearing the letters P.Eng. from
for subsequent offences;
health and safety is involved. Occasionally, those other professionals rely in their work. When people someone that they think may not be an engineer
who want to take a short cut on this road will pre- u For offering professional engineering services to hand over business cards bearing the term P.Eng., should check the person’s credentials with PEO.
tend to have the requisite qualifications and licence. the public without a Certificate of Authorization, they are representing that they have received all of
Others will maintain that they can do the work just $25,000 for the first offence and $50,000 for sub- the required training, have passed all of the neces- The Repeat Offender
as well as any professional engineer. But doing the sequent offences. sary exams, are competent to practise, and are quali- In a series of construction projects on homes, institu-
work is only part of the obligation of a professional PEO may also apply to the Courts for orders restrain- fied to take on the responsibilities of a professional tions and churches, clients and building officials find
engineer. For example, someone who works for a ing individuals or companies from misrepresenting engineer. It is an offence to use the P.Eng. without themselves dealing with someone who describes him-
professional engineer may be capable of doing all of themselves. being licensed by PEO. Those who routinely rely on self variously as an engineer or a structural engineer.