Moving Forward....Safely Together.

May 27, 2020 12:00 AM

Hello Engineers Nova Scotia Members!

It has been a very trying time for Nova Scotians over the past few months with several tragic events playing out over the concerning back drop of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As we have reoriented our lives to adapt to the public health measures, many challenges to our habits, our well-being and our livelihoods have added additional stress. On behalf of Council and the entire Engineers Nova Scotia team, we hope that you and your loved ones have stayed healthy and safe, and that you have all been able to maintain your good spirits!

As you are aware, in response to the public health risk, our office has been closed to visitors since March 18, 2020 – it has been ten weeks already!

In regular reporting we can sense that Nova Scotia COVID-19 cases have decreased to a point where there is energy and excitement around the slow reopening of our community and services – events to which many are looking forward. This easing of restrictions will happen even though we will still face the COVID-19 virus; it is most probable that we will experience a “new normal” in how we live, work and play - full of many changes to what were our pre-COVID-19 habits.

Here at Engineers Nova Scotia, we are monitoring developments and assessing how we will prepare our downtown office for a full return to the workplace. To date, we have been able to fulfill our regulatory obligations using virtual communications and processes, though with a few challenges. As many of you have likely come to understand, the improvements in remote working tools has been a game-changer for most businesses, but they will not be a substitute for face-to-face working relationships.

As I am accountable for the health of all staff, volunteers, members, and the public that work in or visit 1355 Barrington Street, I will be managing risk conservatively by adhering to all federal, provincial and municipal public health guidelines. We will keep our office closed to non-employees until I am confident that we can properly mitigate exposure and possible spread with the necessary standards of safety, cleaning, and physical distancing in our workplace. 

To provide a brief update on what we have been doing, planning, and preparing, as well as how we are dealing with the changing dynamic and public health protocols, I want to share our thoughts and decisions:

The safety of employees, members, guests, and visitors is our top priority. We are looking at our office space to ensure we maintain a safe environment.  We are assessing our practices and will work with our cleaners to ensure that we can maintain an appropriate standard of cleanliness in our common areas before we reopen.  We are also in the process of installing a protective screen around our reception desk to minimize risk to the staff and visitors.

We don't know exactly when we will be able to re-open our office to visitors or what public health measures we must enforce.  Like you, we want to resume our day to day operations in the office. We are examining issues affecting our employees - such as immuno-deficiencies and childcare - which are real concerns to the team returning full time. We are unsure whether the province or municipality will impose other restrictions on workplaces such as masks, handwashing, special meeting rooms etc., to ensure safety.    

Walk-in Appointments, and face-to-face Committee Meetings and face-to-face Assessments will not be available until we reopen our offices to the visitors. For now, all these functions will continue via telephone and video chat or video conference. If you need detailed support from the staff, it is best to contact us in advance to make a virtual appointment to assist you with any regulatory, member services, or other licensure or Association inquiry. Your continued patience and understanding are needed; I am sure you appreciate we have a queue of inquiries and are responding to each of them as fast as we can.

Professional Development, Outreach and Partnership Activities. We have hosted several virtual sessions through video conference applications and social media. This will be our continued strategy until all public health restrictions on the size of public gatherings permit face-to-face sessions. We will regularly assess if we are experiencing “virtual meeting fatigue” to decide if these networking and professional development sessions remain viable.

Annual General Meeting, Annual Professional Development Conference, Gold Medal Dinner, and Centennial Celebrations. I presented a risk analysis at the Council meeting on May 15, 2020 discussing the heath and organizational risks, the potential restrictions on large gatherings for the foreseeable future, and the stipulations of the Provincial Public Health Act. In the best interest of our membership and the public, Council made significant decisions regarding our major events for fall 2020:

  • The Annual General Meeting and the Annual Professional Development Conference will be conducted virtually – staff are coordinating those details now.
  • The 2020 Gold Medal Dinner will be cancelled, and
  • The Centennial Celebrations, the concert featuring Signal Hill, will be postponed until 2021. 

The Staff and I are developing plans to meet Council’s direction; currently, we do not have any details to share.

While the current situation is uncertain, full of many unknowns, we will continue to assess our options using a risk management lens. As engineering professionals, we are well-versed on safety factors and mitigations to ensure the best return on investment. This is how I will continue to advise Council on our approach to resuming operations.  We, like you, want to ensure we are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Though this is sparse on detail, I hope this provides some transparency on our thought process and how we will continue to meet our regulatory obligations while ensuring all of us are protected as best as possible.  

On behalf of Council and the Staff, I thank you for your continued understanding and support. We wish you and your loved ones continued good health, and we are looking forward to the day when we can all meet face-to-face again!

If you have any questions or concerns please contact the office directly via email at . We are here to help you as best as we can, and will respond as soon as possible.