Elliot Lake Inquiry Commissioner endorses PEO recommendations to strengthen regulation of profession

In his final report, released yesterday, the Commissioner of the Elliot Lake Inquiry has adopted recommendations made by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) to strengthen regulation of the engineering profession.

As the regulator of professional engineering in the province, PEO requested, and was granted, standing in the first phase of the Elliot Lake Inquiry, which dealt with events prior to the partial collapse of the Algo Centre Mall parking deck roof in June 2012. The collapse killed Lucie Aylwin and Doloris Perizzolo and injured several others. As a party with standing, PEO was provided a formal opportunity to recommend changes or additions to applicable legislation, regulations, standards and codes in relation to professional engineers and engineering, in areas relevant to the events leading up to the tragedy.

“We would like to thank Commissioner Paul Bélanger for his very thorough and thoughtful report,” said PEO Registrar Gerard McDonald. “We are pleased the Commissioner has chosen to endorse almost all of the 11 recommendations we made in our submission to the commission. We believe implementing these recommendations, in addition to the others made by the Commissioner that apply to our profession, will strengthen engineering practice in Ontario and help to prevent similar tragedies from occurring.”

The PEO recommendations approved by the Commissioner include:

  • developing a new performance standard for structural inspections of existing buildings, based on PEO’s existing practice bulletin;
  • mandating that a Structural Adequacy Report of existing buildings be prepared and sealed by professional engineers who are certified as structural engineering specialists; and,
  • releasing additional information about PEO practitioners disciplined for professional misconduct.

“We are also pleased to see the Commissioner’s recommendation on the establishment of a system of continuing profession education for PEO licence holders,” added PEO Councillor Chris Roney, who also serves as spokesperson for the association’s Elliot Lake Advisory Committee. “In fact, PEO Council has already established a task force to make recommendations for the development of such a system by the end of 2015.

“Our Elliot Lake Advisory Committee will be reviewing the Commissioner’s report in detail to provide advice to PEO Council as we work to implement these recommendations. As PEO’s authority to do so is limited, we will be looking to the Ministry of the Attorney General and the provincial government to receive the tools necessary to put these recommendations into practice, as well as to consider further our ideas for improvement that were not endorsed specifically by the Commissioner.”

In addition to its review of the Commissioner’s report, PEO is continuing its investigations into whether work by PEO licence holders related to the Algo Centre Mall was performed competently and in compliance with the regulations under the Professional Engineers Act, as well as other applicable statutes, regulations, standards, codes, bylaws and rules.

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