Over the past weeks, provincial and territorial governments have ordered all but essential businesses to close as Canada tries to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Some provinces, like British Columbia, have listed engineers as essential service providers. Even if not explicitly listed as such, engineers are nonetheless employed in many industries deemed essential, such as in construction, telecommunications, manufacturing, or utilities. Moreover, many engineers continue to carry out their work remotely as companies across Canada shift to teleworking.
Recognizing that engineers may have questions about their practice in light of these unprecedented circumstances, some of the provincial and territorial engineering regulators have issued practice advice and guidance for licence holders during COVID-19.
Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), for example, has issued offered general advice to assist engineers in making decisions during this time. Their advisory notice contains information for engineers employed in essential workplaces and for engineers contracted to provide services to clients in essential workplaces. It also includes guidance on specific work practices relating to general review of construction, environmental services, and other essential services involving engineers. In sum, the document states that “engineers are expected to consult medical and legal advisors, as required, in order to ascertain whether work is indeed part of an essential business, whether their own safety is assured, and whether there are contractual or other legal obligations that must be considered in specific circumstances.” Find the advisory notice on PEO’s website here.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC has likewise published COVID-19 practice advice and guidance on their website to help registrants understand their obligations during this time. The guidance covers several key areas: expectations for remote workers, whether engineering and geoscience are considered essential services, whether field reviews can continue to be conducted, signing and sealing documents remotely, and submitting documents to authorities having jurisdiction. Overall, Engineers and Geoscientists BC states that registrants must continue to hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment and promote health and safety in the workplace, while complying with the COVID-19 guidance and directives of the provincial and federal governments, including social distancing. It is the registrant’s responsibility to be aware of the latest guidance from public health authorities. You can find the questions and answers of Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s website here.
Additionally, OIQ has published a resource page on its website, outlining impacts on the organization’s events and functioning, continuity of professional activities, and support resources for physical and mental health, as well as families.
With many engineers working remotely as companies and businesses across Canada shift to teleworking, some engineers may have questions about how to sign and seal documents. A number of the provincial and territorial engineering regulators have secured a reduced rate with Notarius, a provider of digital seals, including Engineers and Geoscientists BC, APEGA, and APEGNB.
For more guidance about authenticating documents and the use of digital seals, be sure to consult your regulator. Likewise, should you have any questions about practicing engineering in your jurisdiction during COVID-19, please reach out to the engineering regulator in your province or territory.