Purpose of Assignment:
Engineers must comply with various legislations and statutes and regulations in the
performance of their responsibilities. The scope of law is rather broad and engineers should
have a breadth of understanding of the legal system in which they operate and have sufficient
knowledge of the many relevant statutes that are relevant to the professional engineer. It is
important that the engineer complies with federal and provincial statutes of relevance to his/her
practice and that the engineer is aware of amendments and new statutes. A “statue” is a
codification of the law as the legislature determines at the time of enactment; it may be
codification of existing common law or the enactment of new law. Many statutes are relevant to
the professional engineer. Some statues provide for regulations as a further source of law. The
Professional Engineers Act of Ontario (and similar statutes and common-law of other
provinces), for example, provides that an elected and appointed council may prescribe the
scope and conduct of examinations of candidates for registration, and may regulate other
matters, such as the designation of specialists. When made in accordance with an authorizing
statute, regulations are another source of law.
A good relevant study is the case of the “Walkerton’s Inquiry”. In May 2000, Walkerton’s drinking
water system became contaminated with deadly bacteria. Seven people died, and more than
2,300 became ill. The community was devastated. The losses were enormous. There were
widespread feelings of frustration, anger, and insecurity. The tragedy triggered alarm about the
safety of drinking water across the province of Ontario. Immediately, many important questions
arose. What actually happened in Walkerton? What were the causes? Who was responsible?
How could this have been prevented? Most importantly, how do we make sure this never
happens again? The Province conducted an inquiry [Report of the Walkerton Inquiry: The
Events of May 2000 and Related Issues; The Honourable Dennis R. O’Connor Published by
Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, 2002].
Professional Engineer’s Ontario (PEO) also published a report entitled: “The Roles and
Responsibilities of Professional Engineers in the Provision of Safe Drinking Water” .
Page 2 of 2
Read the PEO report entitled: “The Roles and Responsibilities of Professional Engineers in the
Provision of Safe Drinking Water” . Pay attention to the legal aspects of the engineer’s
responsibility, including: definitions, legislations, statutes, licensing requirements, the
engineer’s responsibilities vs. the law and the professional engineering Act.
Write a report that answers the following specific questions:
1) What are the Federal and Provincial statutes that relate to this case?
2) What are the relevant PEO Professional Practice Guidelines?
3) List the guiding principles for the environmental responsibilities of the engineer
[PEO, 1992: “Environmental Guideline for the Practice of Professional
Engineering in Ontario”].
4) Explain why engineers are ideally suited for assuming increased levels of
responsibility and accountability in drinking water and water supply management.
5) What are specific engineering tasks that require a licensed engineer in relation to
drinking water and water supply?
6) How did PEO demonstrate its commitment to Safe Drinking Water in Ontario?
7) Identify and discuss a couple of potential liabilities in tort law that may arise from
the engineer’s actions or negligence.
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