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January 14, 2013

Professional Engineers Ontario welcome Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry ruling

TORONTO

Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) welcomed a recent ruling from the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry that determined that PEO’s obligations for handling information it collects under the Professional Engineers Act do not apply to the Commission’s handling of the same information under the Public Inquiries Act.

The Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry was established to inquire into the June 23, 2012 parking garage roof collapse at the Algo Centre Mall which killed two women and injured several people.

Under section 38(1)(c) of the Professional Engineers Act, PEO must obtain consent from an affected party prior to releasing information obtained in the course of administering the act that is not otherwise public.

In requesting an order under section 10(4) of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure, PEO highlighted this obligation and requested that the Commission similarly give notice and an opportunity to consent or make submissions to those named in PEO’s documents, prior to any pre-hearing release of the documents.

In his ruling denying PEO’s request, Commissioner Paul R. Bélanger found that section 38 of the Professional Engineers Act has no application to the Commission’s release of information.

The Commissioner also noted that PEO “has produced all relevant documents in its possession to the Commission as it was required to do pursuant to the Commission’s summons.”

“PEO will continue to fully support and cooperate with Commissioner Bélanger and the important work of the Commission,” said Michael Price, PEO acting chief executive officer and registrar.

As the regulator of professional engineering in Ontario, PEO requested and was granted standing in Part I of the Inquiry, which deals with events prior to the collapse.

PEO has also opened its own investigations into what part, if any, the conduct of its licence and certificate holders might have played in the tragedy. The Inquiry’s public hearings are expected to begin the week of March 4, 2013.

The start date assumes that construction of the Inquiry’s hearing room at the former White Mountain Academy of the Arts in Elliot Lake is completed and that the Commission receives all documents required for the hearing that it summoned, Bélanger said in an open letter to the residents of Elliot Lake.

“We have been working at full speed to gather the information and documents we need before we can proceed with public hearings,” he wrote.

“We have so far received approximately 280,000 documents and my team is diligently reviewing, categorizing and classifying them.”

Investigators have already interviewed approximately 250 people.

All of the inquiry’s proceedings will be broadcast live on the internet.

For more information online about the Inquiry visit www.elliotlakeinquiry.ca.

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