Notification Window

COVID - 19 Updates

LAST UPDATED MAY 29, 2020


UPDATE: On May 27, 2020, the Government of Ontario advised emergency orders had been extended until June 9. You are encouraged to review the press release for the list of orders affected.

On May 14, the government released a press release announcing additional workplaces that can reopen. As the OAA awaits the official update to the Regulations, it is reviewing the government’s decision to lift essential workplace limits on construction. Ontario is also releasing safety guidelines for workers as the landscape changes.

The OAA has received numerous questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. While full answers cannot be provided, some of the responses below may be helpful starting points. Members should also monitor information from provincial and federal governments, as well as local public health authorities.

This page will be updated with new information as it becomes available. You can click on the green tags below for information on specific issues.

Members should seek legal advice as they negotiate their response to the pandemic. It is important to have legal assistance in understanding your contractual and practical obligations. Each situation is unique, so advice should be sought by the practices themselves.

 
EMERGENCY ORDER ARCHITECT INTERN PRACTICE EMERGENCY STATUS
Q: NEW: Where can I find the latest on Ontario’s status and Emergency Orders affecting architecture? more
Q: NEW: Where can I find the latest on Ontario’s status and Emergency Orders affecting architecture? A:

For the latest update of the province's Emergency Status, as well as a complete list of Emergency Orders in place, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/emergency-information. The OAA recommends you review the information frequently as the Emergency Orders are being revised often and may impact your place of business, construction sites, etc.

 
ESSENTIAL SERVICE ARCHITECT PRACTICE INTERN
Q: UPDATED: Are architects considered an “essential service?” more
Q: UPDATED: Are architects considered an “essential service?” A:The provincial government continues to revise its list of essential services.

While "Professional Services" is no longer listed as it previously had been at the beginning of the pandemic, architectural services associated with supporting various design/construction projects remain essential.

How the changes to essential services impact your practice and active projects will depend on a number of factors. There are still many grey areas that the industry is trying to navigate and, now more than ever, open, and clear communication is needed when dealing with all stakeholders on all projects.

Until “Professional Services” is clearly identified on the list of services that can reopen their “place of business,” architects should be mindful of their obligations as an employer to ensure the health and safety of their employees, and, as such, considerations for continuing to work remotely should be made.

On March 25, the province launched a toll-free line to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province's recent emergency order. Businesses with questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Practices should start thinking about how their “place of business” should adapt as restrictions are lifted in the upcoming weeks and consider what protocols need to be put in place to allow for safe workplaces.

Last updated: May 8, 2020
 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE AHJ ARCHITECTS ACT BUILDING DEPARTMENT CBO CONSULTANTS ESSENTIAL SERVICE ESSENTIAL SERVICES ENGINEER GENERAL REVIEW INSPECTIONS INSURANCE MUNICIPALITIES PRO-DEMNITY PUBLIC HEALTH SITE REVIEW
Q: UPDATED: The Ontario government has made an additional emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to make it easier to repurpose existing buildings and put up temporary structures, more
Q: UPDATED: The Ontario government has made an additional emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to make it easier to repurpose existing buildings and put up temporary structures, like tents, so communities can meet their local needs quickly. This has resulted in changes to the application of the Building Code and the Planning Act to temporary emergency buildings. What are the changes and what are some considerations for my practice? A:

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) has advised the OAA that the Ontario government has made an additional emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to make it easier to repurpose existing buildings and put up temporary structures, like tents, so communities can meet their local needs quickly. (You can read a news release here.)

The emergency order exempts temporary new facilities or existing buildings repurposed for COVID-19 related purposes such as treating patients or providing shelter from the Building Code and the need to obtain a building permit. It also exempts these facilities from some requirements of the Planning Act. In order to ensure these buildings are safe, the order also requires that an architect and a professional engineer, both of whom are licensed to practice in Ontario, have designed or taken responsibility for the design of the construction of that facility or the part of the facility, and have provided the designs to the chief building official. These facilities will also be subject to inspections from municipal building officials. 

A few considerations:

1. Although the emergency order states exemption from complying with certain laws, this does NOT include the Architects Act, the Professional Engineers Act, or their regulations. Life safety is of paramount importance.

2. Notwithstanding application of the building code has been suspended for projects covered by this emergency order, architects are reminded of their professional obligation to safeguard life and fire safety. The professional standards of the practice of architecture in Ontario remain in effect. These facilities will be subject to inspection prior to occupancy (or at each stage of phased occupancy) and will be routinely inspected by the CBO to ensure these parameters remain in place during the lifecycle of the structures. The government has advised its intention to eventually disassemble these temporary interventions that are currently intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. The Architects Act and Regulations are explicit with respect to professional design and general review requirements in the Province of Ontario. Architects are responsible for the design of assembly occupancies; engineers are responsible for the engineering related to the design of assembly occupancies.

4. It is important to review Pro-Demnity Bulletin 6, Projects Proceeding Without a Building Permit.

MMAH has also confirmed the following, further to a stakeholder consultation session held April 24.

1. While building permits will not be issued, the CBO will be issuing an attestation following the receipt of the design in lieu of a permit. The Order does not prescribe the format or content of the attestation. This will be at the discretion of the CBO.

2. The Order does not prescribe the standard approach that will be taken in regard to the CBO’s inspection reports. This is to say the extent of the content and the format is at the discretion of the CBO. Not withstanding the building code is suspended, building officials will rely on definition of “unsafe building” as stated in Section 15.9 the Building Code Act 1992 to assess these temporary interventions.

3. The CBO will continue to rely on the general review reports issued by the architect and professional engineer in order to conduct their inspection.

MMAH has confirmed that only hospitals and government will be permitted to erect these temporary structures under the Order. These emergency projects will require professionals who understand what it takes to get projects such as health-care facilities done well and safely. The government is entrusting architects and engineers in doing their part to protect the public.


Latest updated: April 28, 2020

 
PRACTICE ARCHITECT
Q:  Should I close my office? more
Q:  Should I close my office? A:As of April 3, the Ontario Government has enacted more stringent measures, pursuant to O. Reg. 82/20: Order Under Subsection 7.0.2 (4), that require the temporary closure of places of non-essential business to help protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario in response to the declared emergency.

The definition of what is considered to be an essential service has narrowed, and workplaces offering architectural services are not listed as essential. However, there are some projects that have been designated as essential.

The Order does not preclude the provision of work and services by non-essential businesses, provided that such provision is made either online, by telephone or other remote means, or by mail, delivery, or making goods available for pickup.

If you have not already done so, you should close your physical office and, if possible, work from home and allow staff to work from their homes. A failure to abide by these new measures could result in serious penalties and fines. The penalties may be levied against both the person committing the infraction and anyone authorizing or demanding them to do so.

Last updated: April 8, 2020
 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE LIMITATION PERIOD DOCUMENT RETENTION
Q: Does the emergency legislation impact document retention requirements? more
Q: Does the emergency legislation impact document retention requirements? A:Yes. The emergency legislation suspended most limitation periods, including the 15-year limitation of architect’s liability. If the 15-year period on a project was about to expire, the legislation effectively postpones the expiration until after the emergency ends. You should retain any documents related to the project until after the limitation period does expire.

Confirm with your legal counsel which projects are affected and when the limitation periods do expire.

Last updated: April 17, 2020
 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE INTERN
Q: UPDATED: How is the OAA supporting the architecture profession with regard to policy and legislation? more
Q: UPDATED: How is the OAA supporting the architecture profession with regard to policy and legislation? A:

The landscape of the design and construction industry is in constant flux. Within its regulatory mandate, the OAA actively communicates with all levels of government, offering recommendations that support the work of architects within the framework of non-essential and essential services as defined by the Government of Ontario.

To see some of the letters written by the OAA that relate to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can visit the Government Relations Portal. The most recent correspondences include letters to Ontario Premier Doug FordToronto Mayor John Tory, the Ontario Associate Minister of Small Business & Red Tape Reduction, the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), and the federal Minister of Infrastructure & Communities.

On April 24, the OAA attended an information session on the Emergency Order, organized by the MMAH with the primary goal to update key players (including Professional Engineers Ontario [PEO], Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario [ARIDO], Residential Construction Council of Ontario [RESCON], and Ontario Building Officials Association [OBOA]) and provide additional clarification and details on the how the emergency orders were designed under the circumstances of COVID-19. The session covered O. Reg. 141/20–Temporary Health or Residential Facilities and O. Reg. 82/20–Closure of Non-Essential Workplaces; the focus was on the construction activities listed in Schedule 2 of the order. MMAH has indicated that is likely to issue a Q&A to respond to a number of questions that have been raised in relation to the order.

Last updated: April 27, 2020

 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE
Q: I am working on a construction project that is deemed essential. Am I still required to work remotely? more
Q: I am working on a construction project that is deemed essential. Am I still required to work remotely? A:If you are looking to fit within the “essential business” exemption in order to keep your office open, then you must seek legal advice. It is important to make sure all decisions are carefully documented, and to ensure the health and safety of your employees is given priority.

As the legal landscape is shifting rapidly, it is critical to keep apprised of the current government directives. If a Ministry of Labour inspector were to show up at your place of business, would your reason for being there comply with the intent of the emergency legislation? The safest and most prudent course of action will be to work remotely and maintain physical distancing, even when working on essential projects.

Last updated: April 8, 2020
 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE
Q: I have closed my office and am set up to work remotely. Are there any circumstances when I would be permitted to attend the office? more
Q: I have closed my office and am set up to work remotely. Are there any circumstances when I would be permitted to attend the office? A:Yes. The Order permits temporary access to a closed place of business for the purposes of:
• performing work at the place of business in order to comply with any applicable law;
• allowing for inspections, maintenance, and repairs to be carried out at the place of business; and
• allowing for security services to be provided at the place of business.

It also allows for attending at the place of business temporarily to:
• deal with other critical matters relating to the closure of the place of business, if the critical matters cannot be attended to remotely; or
• access materials, goods, or supplies that may be necessary for the business to be operated remotely.

This likely includes rebooting a server to allow staff to work remotely, but not working at the office because it is quieter or more comfortable than working remotely—even if you maintain physical distancing. The intent as stated is for people to stay home.

Last updated: April 8, 2020
 
PRACTICE ESSENTIAL SERVICE SUSPENSION OF CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES RISK MANAGEMENT
Q: My project site is closing down. What should I do? more
Q: My project site is closing down. What should I do? A:As the range of construction projects included in the essential service list on April 4 has been narrowed, many project sites must suspend construction activities. Members must be diligent in recording discussions at this time, with decisions only made after obtaining advice of their own lawyers based on the specifics of the situation and contractual obligations.

Performing effective risk management, as well as managing expectations of stakeholders, is critical. For more considerations relating to projects facing a suspension of construction site activities, click here.

Last updated: April 9, 2020
 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE
Q: Should I continue to work on non-essential projects at this time? more
Q: Should I continue to work on non-essential projects at this time? A:

When conducting any architectural work during this period of unprecedented closures and government orders, be mindful of your professional obligations under sS.42(3) and (4) of the Regulations under the Architects Act. Make sure that you are not authorizing, permitting, counselling, assisting, aiding, abetting, or acquiescing in any contravention of any laws, including the recent Order in place. Otherwise, you are permitted to continue to work remotely.

Last updated: April 7, 2020

 
PRACTICE REGULATORY NOTICE AHJ CBO CITY OF TORONTO CONSULTANTS CLIENT CONTRACTOR MUNICIPALITIES PRO-DEMNITY INSURANCE ESSENTIAL SERVICES GENERAL REVIEW REPORT
Q: UPDATED: What should practices do in the absence of municipal building inspections? more
Q: UPDATED: What should practices do in the absence of municipal building inspections? A:At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of municipalities had ceased non-essential operations and, as such, indicated that routine building inspections would not be conducted. Other municipalities closed their offices to the public, but were working remotely and continuing to scheduling inspections—although it may have taken longer than normal for an inspector to arrive on site.

Over the past few weeks, the OAA understands that many municipalities are restarting operations that may have been shut down, including inspections. This is particularly true where emergency projects under the definition of essential services are proceeding. It may be the case, however, that a few municipalities have not restarted inspections and/or have very specific policies and procedures around site inspections. Members should review municipal websites and contact the building department directly to obtain a clear understanding of site inspection protocols related to their projects.

Where a building permit has not been issued and the project doesn’t fall under Emergency Order 141/20, members should follow the recommendations of Regulatory Notice 9, General Review Where Contractor Proceeds Without a Building Permit. Where a permit has been issued, members should attempt to contact the chief building official (CBO) or authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to determine what their policy/procedure is under the circumstances. Again, some municipalities have issued clear notice of their position.

Members should then advise the client and the contractor appropriately. Members are typically not responsible for notifying the authorities a project is ready for inspection. This is usually the contractor’s responsibility.

Members should adhere to the following if they are going to continue to provide services on projects while a municipality is no longer providing inspection services:

1. Check to ensure that the appropriate measures are in place in terms of site safety regarding the pandemic. Refer to the Government of Ontario directive regarding safe sites. Also refer to the question on the COVID-19 Updates page, “What are my obligations as an employer to keep my employees safe?”

2. Check with your consultants to determine what they are prepared or able to do relative to site review.

3. Members should advise clients and contractors that if they choose to proceed with construction under these circumstances and conceal work that requires inspection, they do so at their own risk. Despite any recording of the status of the work by anyone involved, the authorities may ultimately require the work to be exposed so that it may be inspected in person.

4. Members should review Pro-Demnity Special Bulletin 3, Matters Deserving Immediate Attention Building Officials Suspending Site Inspections–Part I and Special Bulletin 4, Matters Deserving Immediate Attention Building Officials Suspending Site Inspections–Part 2. As noted in the bulletins, one action that every architect should consider taking is the inclusion of a prominent “disclaimer” in any correspondence or reports directed to any clients, consultants, contractors, and authorities, including municipal building departments.

5. Members should review Pro-Demnity Bulletin 5, General Review and Site Visits. It should be noted that the means and methods undertaken to perform general review are at the sole discretion of the holder of certificate of practice. It is up to the architect to determine whether the process meets the professional prescribed performance standards as set out in the Regulations. The architect/holder will bear responsibility for the content of their reviews and should be able to illustrate they have personally supervised and directed the work and maintained responsible control.
 

Last updated: May 6, 2020
 
PRACTICE GENERAL REVIEW CONTRACT ARCHITECTS ACT PRO-DEMNITY INSURANCE AHJ PUBLIC HEALTH REGULATORY NOTICE PRACTICE TIP BUILDING DEPARTMENT
Q: What should I do for general review? more
Q: What should I do for general review? A:All architects are responsible for understanding their professional obligations and for seeking advice from their lawyer and insurer to understand their contractual commitments. Practices should consult the Architects Act and their contracts to fully understand the regulatory requirements and their contractual commitments for general review.

It is important to pay particular attention to “time is of the essence” and “force majeure” clauses in contracts. Referring to Practice Tip 39.1, Best Practices for Review of RFP Language and Supplementary Conditions to OAA 600 and Other Client-Architect Contracts may help in this regard.

As long as construction on such projects continues, members providing general review have a responsibility to perform general review to professional standards. Refer to Regulatory Notice 6 General Review–Professional Standards for Building Code-Related Matters and Practice Tip 5 General Review–Building Code (BC) and Non-Code-Related Matters.

It would be prudent to discuss each project with the client and the contractor, and to record any agreement to changes to the project scope or schedule in writing. This may require formal notices or change orders.

Each practice must assess the particulars of each project in light of the public health guidelines and directions being issued. The situation is dynamic and changing by the hour.

Some buildings departments are now reducing the extent of their services or closing; if you have active projects, it is prudent to reach out and stay informed. Please consult the OAA’s COVID-19 Updates webpage, including the following questions: “The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for one of my projects says that construction work can continue… provided the architect and engineers submit site inspection reports. Can we do this?” and “What should practices do in the absence of municipal building inspections?"

Practices can also refer to Pro-Demnity Insurance Co.’s Bulletin 3, Matters Deserving Immediate Attention Building Officials Suspending Site Inspections–Part I and Bulletin 5 General Review and Site Visits.

It should be noted that the means and methods undertaken to perform general review are at the sole discretion of the holder of the Certificate of Practice. It is up to the architect to determine whether the process meets the professional prescribed performance standards as set out in the Regulations. The architect/holder will bear responsibility for the content of their reviews and should be able to illustrate that they have personally supervised and directed the work and maintained responsible control.

If it is essential to conduct a general review, every effort must be made to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. Please consult the latest public health information from the Government of Ontario as well as the OAA’s COVID-19 Updates page regularly.

Last updated: April 9, 2020
 
PRACTICE CONSTRUCTION ACT STATUTORY HOLDBACK LIMITATION PERIOD
Q: How is the release of statutory holdback affected by the response to COVID 19? more
Q: How is the release of statutory holdback affected by the response to COVID 19? A:

On March 20, 2020, the Ontario Government passed O. Reg. 73/20, which automatically suspends any limitation period imposed by any Ontario law for the duration of the emergency, retroactive to March 16.

In response, some legal firms have published opinions that this legislation affects the lien periods established in the Construction Act and, as a consequence, owners should not release the statutory holdback until the State of Emergency is lifted and the calendar on limitation periods starts running again—establishing a new date for the release of holdback. The danger identified is "any release of holdback after March 16, 2020 may result in the payer having to make the payment again if a suspended lien is subsequently preserved and perfected.”

While this seems perfectly clear, there are contrary opinions from other legal firms that, based on previous court rulings, the time periods for filing a lien under the Construction Lien Act or Construction Act are not limitation periods as identified in O. Reg. 73/20, and therefore are not affected by the emergency legislation. In their opinion, payers should release the holdback as in the past.

The withholding of statutory holdback for an indefinite time will have a negative impact on cash flow in the construction industry. This would seem to be an inadvertent impact of the legislation as it is not supportive of the government’s stated objective of keeping construction moving forward.

The OGCA has already proposed additional clarifying legislation to the government to explicitly exempt the Construction Act from effects of the emergency legislation in order to allow owners to safely release holdback.

What is an architect to do? Fortunately, architects don’t have to practise law.

Architects should process applications for release of holdback in accordance with the provisions of the Construction Lien Act or Construction Act and the construction contract applicable to any project. You should include in a covering letter with the certificate for payment for release of holdback, along with the usual recommendation that the client have their lawyer check that no liens have been filed, a recommendation that before the holdback is released, the client should have their lawyer advise about the impact of any new legislation or court rulings that might affect the release of the holdback.

Last updated: April 9, 2020

 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE
Q: What are my obligations as an employer to keep my employees safe? more
Q: What are my obligations as an employer to keep my employees safe? A:As an employer, you have various duties, responsibilities and obligations to ensure your employees are protected; these can be found under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and other sources.

The provincial government's Construction Site Health and Safety During COVID-19 webpage includes the following statement:

Under Ontario law, employers have the duty to keep workers and work sites safe and free of hazards. Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. If health and safety concerns are not resolved internally, a worker can seek enforcement by filing a complaint with the ministry’s Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008. Failure of the employer or constructor to comply with the OHSA and its regulations could result in a stop-work order upon inspection by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has drafted a policy statement on the COVID-19 pandemic that includes information on employment issues as it relates to the Ontario Human Rights Code. If you or your employees have questions about how employees' legal rights may be impacted by COVID-19, the Steps to Justice website has produced updated FAQs directly related to COVID-19, including information about changes to the Employment Standards Act and employment insurance.

Last updated: April 3, 2020
 
PRACTICE ARCHITECT
Q: My employees have questions about their legal rights related to COVID-19. What resources can I provide them? more
Q: My employees have questions about their legal rights related to COVID-19. What resources can I provide them? A:If you or you employees have questions about how employees’ legal rights may be impacted by the pandemic, Steps to Justice (a collaborative project led by Community Legal Education Ontario [CLEO]) has produced updated FAQs directly related to COVID-19, including information about changes to the Employment Standards Act and employment insurance.

Visit https://stepstojustice.ca/covid-19-employment-and-work.

Last reviewed: April 8, 2020
 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE SUPERVISOR
Q: As the architect responsible for personal supervision & direction of the work at my practice, what will happen to my business, my projects, and my staff if I fall ill? How do I plan for succession? more
Q: As the architect responsible for personal supervision & direction of the work at my practice, what will happen to my business, my projects, and my staff if I fall ill? How do I plan for succession? A:

Succession planning does not address solely what happens in the event of death, but also in the event of an illness, an injury, or having to devote your time to caring for an ill or injured loved one.

Every Certificate of Practice must have an architect designated as responsible for the personal supervision and direction of the practice. Every personally supervising and directing architect should have a succession plan. 

When the architect appointed to personally supervise and direct the practice is unable to work, the Certificate of Practice will be cancelled, unless an alternate can be appointed. Ideally, the certificate of practice should appoint more than one architect to personally supervise and direct the practice before anyone is sidelined.  The Office of the Registrar must be informed in writing by those concerned that additional architects have been added as personally supervising and directing architects. 

For those practices that have only one architect, they should make arrangements with another practice to take over their projects, staff, or practice in the event of an emergency. The Office of the Registrar must be informed immediately if someone is not able to personally supervise and direct their practice. The Registrar and the Registrar’s staff will help the practice sort out what the appropriate next steps are, that will include conversations with OAA Practice Advisory Services (PAS) staff.

Staff in a firm may not continue to operate the practice without the architects responsible for personally supervising and directing being present and in a position to do the work to the standard appropriate for a licensed professional.

Where the sole individual taking over the personal supervision and direction of a practice is a Licensed Technologist OAA, the terms conditions and limitations of that licence will be applied to the practice in its entirety, even where other architects work in that office

Professional liability insurance is not available to a Certificate of Practice that is cancelled.

It is critical that every practice be prepared, not just in the time of a pandemic, but at any time.

Last updated: April 2, 2020

 
INTERN
Q: I’m an Intern Architect and I’m worried about not being able to pay my fees. Will my status lapse? more
Q: I’m an Intern Architect and I’m worried about not being able to pay my fees. Will my status lapse? A:

Because of the uncertainty and the potential for financial hardship resulting from COVID-19, the OAA will not lapse the status of Intern Architects due to non-payment of their fees at this time. More information on the payment of fees will be provided shortly. For Student Associates, please ensure that your free enrollment is up to date. Contact officeoftheregistrar@oaa.on.ca if you have any questions.

Should financial hardship be a concern to you, refer to the OAA Financial Hardship Policy.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
INTERN
Q: Will applications for licence and enrollment in the IAP still be accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic? more
Q: Will applications for licence and enrollment in the IAP still be accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic? A:Yes, applications will continue to be accepted.

OAA staff is working remotely and exercising best efforts to maintain regular processing times. However, due to the evolving situation and factors beyond control, processing times could be delayed. If you are currently awaiting an Experience Requirements Committee (ERC) interview, please note existing scheduled interviews are being suspended at this time.

The OAA is working to determine the best way forward. OAA staff will be in direct contact with candidates whose interview has been impacted—these individuals will receive priority placement at the next available opportunity. If you wish to apply for an Experience Requirements Committee Interview, please note that no new interviews are being scheduled during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a new application is received, the candidate will be put on a waiting list for the next available interview.

Last updated: April 1, 2020
 
INTERN
Q: Is the ExAC being affected? What about the ARE? more
Q: Is the ExAC being affected? What about the ARE? A:

The OAA is currently monitoring the situation and in communication with the national Committee for the Examination for Architects in Canada (CExAC) regarding the next administration of the ExAC. At the present time, registration and the exams will still take place as scheduled, but the committee will be continually assessing the situation as it unfolds. We understand that there may be some challenges for interns who are working toward the required 2800 hours of practical experience required to sit the examination due to changes in employment situations—this issue is being considered by CExAC. In the interim, Intern Architects are encouraged to check with www.exac.ca/en/accueil.html

Candidates planning to take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) should refer to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) website for the most recent updates at www.ncarb.org/press/coronavirus-update-ncarb-services.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
MENTOR SUPERVISOR INTERN STUDENT
Q: I am now working remotely. How do I ensure I am appropriately supervised? more
Q: I am now working remotely. How do I ensure I am appropriately supervised? A:

While all Intern Architects and Student Associates must be supervised and directed by a Supervising Architect on a daily basis, many tasks can be completed remotely. To ensure appropriate supervision and guidance, daily interaction with your Supervising Architect must be maintained through frequent emails, telephone calls, and/or video chats. Intern Architects and Student Associates should continue to contact their Supervising Architect with any questions they may have. Frequent communication with Mentors is also encouraged, not only because Mentors are required to review and attest to the IAP experience, but also because they will be a valuable resource during this time of uncertainty.

The Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) has prepared an excellent resource page on COVID-19 preparedness their website, which offers links to guides for working remotely, among other topics.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
SUPERVISOR
Q: As a Supervising Architect, how do I supervise remotely? more
Q: As a Supervising Architect, how do I supervise remotely? A:

Ensure you are in contact with your Intern Architect or Student Associate on a daily basis and check in through email, phone, or video chats. During this period of uncertainty, it is important to keep in mind that employees may have additional questions, concerns, and worries. 

Supervising Architects are encouraged to contact the OAA should they have any questions about temporary adjustments in their workplace environment that affect their ability to monitor and supervise the work performed by an Intern Architect or Student Associate. You may wish to access this resource from CAMH, posted on the TSA website, providing succinct and clear tips on how to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19.

Among the many benefits of employing Intern Architects and Student Associates is their ability to work independently under the direction of a Supervising Architect. As always, the OAA will continue to rely on Supervising Architects to support, direct, delegate, and review the work of their Intern Architect or Student Associate. The review comments and experience attestation by Supervising Architects are a vital component of the IAP, and the OAA relies on this commitment to ensure those enrolled in the IAP are gaining the requisite competencies. This process will be more vital than ever during this time of working remotely.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
INTERN
Q: Can I still sign up for the Admission Course? more
Q: Can I still sign up for the Admission Course? A:

With the cancellation of the OAA Conference, the segments of the OAA Admission Course that were to be offered in-person at that time have also been cancelled. There continues to be two alternative options for interns wishing to fulfil their Admission Course requirements this year—an online version through the University of Toronto, as well as an in-class edition that remains scheduled for the fall.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
STUDENT
Q: How are educational requirements for students being impacted? more
Q: How are educational requirements for students being impacted? A:

All students currently enrolled in a professional program of architecture are encouraged to reach out to their respective faculties and academic institutions with any questions they may have related to potential COVID-19 impact to curriculum and schedule.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
STUDENT INTERN SUPERVISOR
Q: What if I am unable to work, or if I am required to work fewer hours due to COVID-related reasons, such as illness or increased family responsibilities? more
Q: What if I am unable to work, or if I am required to work fewer hours due to COVID-related reasons, such as illness or increased family responsibilities? A:

Please stay home, stay safe, and take care of your loved ones. During this crisis, everyone should focus their health and safety. The OAA understands that uncertainty, change, and physical health concerns can all be factors that affect our mental well-being.

The OAA is currently monitoring this situation and understands that the pandemic could have implications on Intern Architects and Student Associates working to meet their mandatory experience requirements as planned. It is anticipated that there will be pervasive COVID-19 ramifications to the entire profession and industry as it relates to projects and schedules. 

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
INTERN STUDENT SUPERVISOR
Q: Can I continue to enter experience on my CERB if I have been laid off? more
Q: Can I continue to enter experience on my CERB if I have been laid off? A:

As an Intern Architect or Student Associate, you can continue to enter any outstanding experience if you are no longer employed, provided you were employed at the time you gained the experience and your Supervising Architect can confirm the experience.

In the event of any changes to your employment due to COVID-19, contact the OAA and refer to section 1.3 of the Internship in Architecture Program (IAP) Manual for further information.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
INTERN STUDENT
Q: Will COVID-19 affect the OAA review of my CERB submission? more
Q: Will COVID-19 affect the OAA review of my CERB submission? A:

OAA staff is working remotely and exercising best efforts to maintain regular review and processing times. However, due to the evolving situation and factors beyond control, experience review times could be delayed.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
STUDENT INTERN
Q: Should Student Associates keep logging hours if they have reached the allowable 760 hours? more
Q: Should Student Associates keep logging hours if they have reached the allowable 760 hours? A:

For information related to the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) certification process, please check for updates at cacb.ca/special-announcement.

There may be some delays in the CACB assessment timelines in the coming months, and the OAA is carefully monitoring the situation. This page will be updated as more information becomes available. For Student Associates who are have been logging student hours and are now awaiting CACB certification the OAA recommends that you continue to log hours. If you reach the maximum allowable 760 hours as a Student Associate while waiting for CACB certification please contact officeoftheregistrar@oaa.on.ca or the staff you are already in communication with at the OAA.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

 
PRACTICE ARCHITECT
Q: What should I tell my clients? more
Q: What should I tell my clients? A:Open, effective communication is important at this time in order to manage clients’ fears and expectations relating to the impact of COVID-19 on their projects. We are supposed to be practising social distancing and self-isolation, but communication with all parties is key. Be proactive, and initiate discussions.

Last updated: March 26, 2020
 
PRACTICE ARCHITECT CONTRACTOR CONTRACTS
Q: What should I discuss with my consultants and/or the contractor? more
Q: What should I discuss with my consultants and/or the contractor? A:Review your contracts and talk to your lawyer. Be aware of any force majeure provisions in any of the contracts and any related requirements.

Last updated: March 26, 2020
 
ARCHITECT PRACTICE INSPECTIONS GENERAL REVIEW AHJ SITE REVIEW
Q: The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for one of my projects says that construction work can continue… provided the architect and engineers submit site inspection reports. Can we do this? more
Q: The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for one of my projects says that construction work can continue… provided the architect and engineers submit site inspection reports. Can we do this? A:

Some practitioners have been asked by their clients to perform building inspections in lieu of inspections provided by the municipality. Since architects are not representatives of the administrative authority responsible for the Building Code (typically, the municipal building department), they cannot carry out the mandatory building inspections.

An architect cannot issue orders to comply if building code infractions are observed. Practitioners should remind clients and contractors that if they choose to proceed with construction and conceal work that requires inspection by the building inspector, they do so at their own risk. A building inspector may, at some future date, require the work to be exposed so that it can be inspected.

While both municipal building inspectors and architects attend the site, they do so for different purposes. An architect’s site review report and an inspector’s site inspection report (used internally by the AHJ) are not the same thing.

Some people may use the terms ‘site review report’ and ‘site inspection report’ interchangeably and may not be aware of any distinction between them. Architects should be clear in any communication that ‘review’ and ‘inspection’ are not the same thing and that they involve different standards of care.

Architects should be aware that contracting to do an ‘inspection’ or submit an ‘inspection report’ could result in an exclusion from professional liability insurance coverage. Performing municipal inspections is not considered as part of the normal practice of architecture.

This should not preclude an architect from providing additional detail in or backup material to a site review report.

Refer also to other question/answer on the site such as “What should practices do in the absence of municipal building inspections?” and “What should I do for general review?”

Last updated: April 6, 2020

 
FORCE MAJEURE CONTRACT ARCHITECT PRACTICE
Q:  Does force majeure apply to construction contracts? And does COVID-19 meet the test? more
Q:  Does force majeure apply to construction contracts? And does COVID-19 meet the test? A:Force majeure is totally dependent on the wording of each contract. As a result, there is no generic advice other than to consult a lawyer about the particulars of each contract and the applicable situation. 

In general, it comes down to the wording of the individual contract clauses. No blanket statement regarding COVID-19 and force majeure is possible. Despite the declaration of a pandemic, until it is litigated, no one can definitively say that COVID-19 meets the force majeure criteria of any particular contract or if it meets the requirements of one contract that it meets the requirements of another.

Architects should not offer legal advice to clients. It is not for the architect to decide if delays due to COVID-19 qualify under CCDC 2 or any similar contract as a “cause beyond the Contractor’s control.” Architects should receive any “Notice in Writing of the cause of the delay” and forward it to the owner with the advice to review the notice with their lawyer. It is up to the owner upon advice from their legal counsel to decide to accept the notice as valid or not.

The statements made above relating to construction contracts apply also to client/architect agreements. Architects should seek to come to mutual agreements with their clients about any delays in the performance of their services and how the contract is affected. Any architect looking to rely on any force majeure clauses in the client/architect agreement should consult a lawyer about the particulars of each contract.

Architects may want to look on the websites of construction law firms to see what lawyers are saying at this time, while understanding that the information may change.

Last updated: March 26, 2020
 
PRACTICE ARCHITECT
Q: Are the Construction Act prompt payment provisions still in effect? more
Q: Are the Construction Act prompt payment provisions still in effect? A:All the legal sites surveyed as of March 30 are of the opinion that the Construction Act prompt payment provisions and timelines are still in effect.

Last updated: April 2, 2020
 
INTERN IAP CACB BEFA
Q: NEW: Is CACB’s Academic Certification Program still accepting applications? Is BEFA still active? more
Q: NEW: Is CACB’s Academic Certification Program still accepting applications? Is BEFA still active? A:

On April 26, 2020, the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) issued an update about the Academic Certification Program, the Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects (BEFA) program, and others. Visit cacb.ca/special-announcement.

Last updated: April 27, 2020

 
 

Disclaimer: The OAA does not provide professional legal, accounting, or insurance advice, and expressly disclaims any responsibility for any errors or omissions with respect to discussions regarding same. Readers of OAA documents are advised to consult their own legal, accounting, or insurance representatives to obtain suitable professional advice in those regards.