• Equivalency of Registration Requirements
  • June 26, 2015 | Author: Lily Nguyen
  • Law Firm: Field Law - Edmonton Office
  • Registrar of the Association of Professional Engineering of Ontario v. Gurpersaud, 2015 ONSC 804 (Ont. Div Ct), dismissing an appeal by the Registrar of the Registration Committee’s decision to issue a licence to practice.

    An applicant with foreign education credentials sought licensing with the Association of Professional Engineering of Ontario (“PEO”) and was ordered by the PEO’s Academic Requirements Committee (“ARC”) to pass 4 exams to get licensed. The applicant failed 2 of the 4 exams and was then ordered to write 6 exams. The applicant did not write the exams.

    After the expiry of the initial application, the applicant reapplied and was again informed that he needed to write the 6 exams. Instead of doing so, he pursued a Master’s degree in engineering from a Canadian university. Upon re-application in 2010 and 2011, he was again ordered by the ARC to write the 6 exams on the basis that the applicant’s Master’s coursework did not address the specific deficiencies identified. The applicant sought and obtained a hearing before the Registration Committee.

    The Registration Committee set aside the ARC’s decision and ordered that a license be issued, finding that the applicant’s education combined with 11 years of work experience at a multinational engineering firm met the requirement of equivalency to a Canadian engineering degree. The Registrar appealed the Committee’s decision to the Ontario Court.

    On appeal, the panel of 3 judges upheld the Committee’s decision. It rejected the Registrar’s argument that the standard of correctness should apply because the Committee was primarily a lay rather than expert panel, with 2 out of 3 members being public members. It further endorsed the Committee’s assessment of the equivalency of the applicant’s qualifications “as a whole,” rejecting the more technical, narrow approach advocated by the Registrar.

    Comment: The case demonstrates that the Court is likely to interpret equivalency provisions expansively and resist a narrow, technical interpretation of what constitutes “equivalent” credentials. The case also confirms the deference accorded to professional regulatory bodies, even if the body is not entirely made up of professional members.