PEO Whitewash

May 6th, 2019

The Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) is an association of professional engineers in Ontario.  They do a medley of things, including the regulation of their profession.

Engineers in Canada are self-regulating.  That is, their professional associations handle complaints and disciplinary issues internally, the governments of Canada are trusting engineers to police themselves.

We recently received a copy of a PEO Final Report on an engineering complaint.  Someone (not us) submitted a complaint to PEO regarding CSA’s infamous counterfeiting program.

Readers may recall that CSA was caught selling counterfeit safety certifications in 2010.  A bunch of companies paid a bunch of money to CSA in trade for a bunch of certifications for a bunch of products that didn’t meet minimum safety standards, and which CSA had no authority to certify, and as a result the purchasers -wholly innocent and oblivious in the matter- were financially harmed, some bankrupted.

The PEO complaint then, related to actions by CSA itself (counterfeiting) and CSA friendly companies (generalized incompetence).

“The Complaints Committee will consider,” said the Report, “whether the allegations in the complaint could amount to professional misconduct or incompetence; the availability and admissibility of evidence to support the allegations; the seriousness of the allegations; and the public interest.”

Brill.  Let’s get on it then.

Mid-Canada Modular (MCM) “purchased approximately thirty MMH units [transportable buildings] from Summit Crest for resale to customers in Saskatchewan and Alberta and arranged for installation of the units at their end destinations.”

That’s true.  We’ve spoken with the former CEO of MCM.  He deliberately paid a higher price to import these specific products because these were already CSA certified.  Or so they seemed.

“On or about February 6, 2009, [an] MMH unit in Asquith, Saskatchewan was rejected by a local building inspector for not meeting National Building Code (NBC) requirements. The inspector cited noncompliance with NBC Section 9.25.3 for air barrier systems and ordered the unit to be removed from the Town of Asquith. The unit had been installed by MCM and had both CSA and AMAH certification labels.”

See?  Once CSA’s racket was exposed, the use of illegitimately certified products was restricted and, obviously, MCM paid the price.

The CSA certification label is used for importation of foreign-made products, it signifies that the imported product meets or exceeds the safety requirements of the destination country.  That’s why CSA labels are so valuable.  That’s why people paid CSA so much money to get them.  That’s why CSA has so much money. 

Anyway, this is where the PEO Report starts obfuscating.  There are a lot of CSA committee members who pay for PEO membership.  The PEO itself has an interest in protecting its members, including those who’ve cooked things for CSA.

Instead of noting that CSA had sold counterfeit certifications for non-compliant products, and therefore they’re the bad guys, the PEO Report instead implied that it was CSA doing the good in a bad, bad world.

“CSA informed Summit Crest of the reported deficiencies by e-mail on March 24, 2009 and advised that the certification labels would be removed from the unit.  CSA noted that the construction method and materials used did not comply with the 2005 NBC as amended by Saskatchewan.”

The PEO members of CSA and their affiliates caused the damage.  But, you know, no mention.  What happened to MCM, the victim in all this?

“MCM went into receivership following the Summit Crest closure, as it could not sell its inventory of uncertified homes nor return the units to Summit Crest for refund.”

The PEO Report dryly notes that “CSA was the certification Agency for the Summit Crest product and had overall responsibility for assuring compliance to local building codes.”

So, the PEO’s getting close to attributing at least some responsibility then? 

“The Committee reviewed [also] the CSA certification process”.

Oooh, that’s close.  It affirms that PEO reviewed CSA’s role and it ties CSA directly to the damage.

“On or about November 13, 2005, Summit Crest entered into an agreement with CSA International for CSA International to provide all ‘testing, evaluation and other services’ related to CSA certification of Summit Crest’s modular homes.”

This is moving in a promising direction; against CSA. 

Also, note the PEO admission that CSA International (CSA America Inc.) provided “testing, evaluation and other services”.  Recall that CSA isn’t allowed to offer these services in the US, it’s called fraud.  And it’s a crime.  Anyway…

“CSA approved all plan reviews, and issued CSA certification labels for all the Summit Crest homes.”

And;

“CSA held responsibility for final Certification”.

So, we have companies bankrupted from CSA’s sales of counterfeit certifications and their subsequent dereliction of responsibility to ensure compliance with minimum requirements of safety law.  We have CSA taking a lot of money from industry for what CSA tells them are genuine certifications, and customers like MCM paying a lot of money for products they’re told are safe and legal.  We have towns like Asquith barring use of units bearing CSA’s counterfeited marks and real estate boards issuing Province-wide public warnings against CSA certified importations.  Purchasers can’t use the products they paid for, can’t install them or re-export them elsewhere, can’t sue CSA for damages due to their immunities from litigation, and can’t seek a refund from the manufacturer because unknowingly buying CSA’s faked certifications put the manufacturers out of business too.

The only party left standing, the one holding all the ill-gotten gains, is CSA and their PEO engineers.  And what did PEO do about that?

“After careful consideration of the complaint and all the available evidence, the Complaints Committee concluded that a referral to the Discipline Committee was not warranted in the circumstances.”

It’s depressing really, isn’t it? 

The CSA never returned any of the money they’d illegally taken over the eight years of their counterfeiting program and, thus far, no-one’s been prosecuted -or even disciplined- for the incredible damage done to so many Canadians at their hand.

For its part, PEO did it’s best to slow-walk the whole process, in the probable hope that the complainant would just go away; would die, be personally bankrupted, would lose interest, or otherwise get frustrated and forget about the PEO disciplinary process.  In all, the PEO took six years to produce eight pages of report.

Yet this is depressingly normal in Canada.  As we noted in 2015;

“Wrote one frustrated woman to Industry Canada; ‘I have requested an answer to the following question numerous times and no one has the courtesy to reply.’  And they don’t have to reply.  The Government can wait it out, safe in the knowledge that their conduct is rarely noticed by the media, rarely investigated by police, and bankruptcy will financially, eventually, silence the citizens who’ve been harmed.”