At its meeting on March 1, 2019, the Engineers Canada Board approved a new National Position Statement on the regulation of coastal, ocean, and related subsurface engineering.
With the world’s changing climate, the practice of offshore engineering work is expected to expand into locations that were previously inaccessible to such activities, such as the Arctic Ocean, and to increase in areas where offshore engineering already takes place, such as off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. However, whereas engineering work that is conducted on land is regulated by the provincial or territorial engineering regulator in the given jurisdiction, the international and federal regulatory instruments that govern offshore work do not provide for the regulation of engineering work done offshore. Currently, infrastructure to be used offshore that is designed and built outside of Canadian limits is not subject to Canadian engineering regulation.
The National Position Statement was borne out of this gap in the regulation of offshore engineering work. Some of the provincial and territorial engineering regulators have already taken steps to address this gap. PEGNL, for example, published Practice Guidelines for Authenticating Professional Documents in June 2016, which included guidance on the authentication of offshore drilling documents. It outlines that authentication by a PEGNL-licensed engineer is required when a device intended for use outside of the 12-mile Canadian territorial limit (ie. in international waters) is designed in Newfoundland and Labrador; is built in Newfoundland and Labrador; is integrated into or installed in an assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador; or is tested or commissioned in Newfoundland and Labrador.
While these Practice Guidelines are specific to Newfoundland and Labrador, Engineers Canada’s National Position Statement places the issue in a national context and calls for greater regulation of offshore work across Canada. It calls on the federal government to consider better regulation for activities with engineering components performed outside of provincial jurisdiction but within federal control. It calls for all legislation impacting the offshore where engineering matters form a significant component to include a requirement that engineers be licensed with a provincial or territorial coastal government who has direct interest in the offshore engineering work.
Public interest is best served when such engineering matters are regulated to at least the standard to which they are regulated on land. Where engineering facilities are being used or engineering activities are occurring outside of provincial or territorial jurisdiction but under federal government jurisdiction, it is in the public interest that federal government regulations provide the same level of public assurance as when activities occur within provincial or territorial jurisdictions.
Engineers Canada’s National Position Statements represent the collective position of the engineering profession and are meant to influence public policy and facilitate discussion with government. Engineers Canada will continue to work collaboratively with the provincial and territorial regulators to promote the regulation of offshore engineering, and will identify opportunities to work with the federal government to inform regulation for activities performed outside of provincial jurisdiction but within federal control.