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During the 1920s and 1930s, engineers across Canada began a movement to establish the engineering profession.  They called on the provincial governments to create Acts to protect the standards and reputation of their profession.  In Ontario, the Professional Engineering Act was passed in 1922.  In 1937 the Act was ‘closed’ to restrict the use of the titles ‘P. Eng.' and 'Engineer’ to licensed engineers.  [1]

These Acts were created to regulate the engineering profession.  In each province, the engineering profession is self-regulated.  The Act enables engineers to create an Association and to establish a Council of elected members of the profession.  In Ontario, this association is the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO).  The PEO Council is responsible for enforcing the Act and licensing members, as well as developing and enforcing its own regulations, standards, and code of ethics. 

There are a number of benefits to self regulating the engineering profession.  The councils are made up of elected members.  This ensures that knowledgeable people are involved in enforcing the regulations and standards.  It also means that decisions related to bylaws, acceptance requirements, discipline, etc. are being made by well informed people with no ulterior motives.  The associations are run without government funding since members pay fees to be licensed and represented by one of the Associations.


Perhaps the most important aspect of a self-regulating profession such as engineering is the ability to enforce its regulations, by-laws and Code of Ethics. This means not only governing those within the profession itself, but also those outside of the profession, who are unqualified, yet practicing as though they were a professional engineer. In fact, this is the most commonly disciplined offence investigated by Professional Engineers of Ontario.

Dealing with professionals within the caste is equally if not more so important. If an engineer is to be disciplined, he has committed a professional misconduct. The definition of a professional misconduct is often clearly outlined in the governing Professional Engineering Act of the area, but typically includes the acts of negligence, incompetence or corruption [2].

Once an infraction has been found, the discipline process begins and can be broken down into three stages. First, evidence and information is gathered on the situation, and it is thoroughly investigated to verify all facts. Second, a peer review is conducted of the aforementioned evidence. Finally, a disciplinary hearing is conducted involving the accused and a disciplinary committee composed of licenced members. If found to be guilty, the penalties can be severe including the revoking or suspension of a licence, a fine ($5000 max) and other various disciplinary consequences [3].

EndnotesEdit

[1] Gordon Andrews, Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics, 4th Edition (Nelson 2009), pg 30.


[2] Gordon Andrews, Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics, 4th Edition (Nelson 2009), pg 50

[3] Gordon Andrews, Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics, 4th Edition (Nelson 2009), pg 76

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Gordon Andrews, Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics, 4th Edition (Nelson 2009), pg 53

BibliographyEdit

Andrews, Gordon.  Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics, 4th Edition.  Nelson, 2009.

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