Association of Professional Archaeologists

Message from Ministry of Culture (MHSTCI) re: COVID-19

27 Mar 2020 12:01 PM | Anonymous

From: Archaeology (MHSTCI)  ~~   Friday, March 27 at 11:49am

To: All Licencees

Subject: COVID-19 emergency order and Indigenous community engagement

On Monday the province issued an emergency order to close at-risk workplaces and encourage non-essential businesses to find ways to help their employees work from home. This order will remain in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extension as the pandemic situation evolves. A list of essential businesses can be found here.    

What does this mean for the archaeology sector?

All archeological licensees, archaeology sector organizations and businesses, are expected to comply with the Emergency Order requirements, as appropriate.

Business owners must take the necessary steps to keep their employees, clients and customers safe, and ensure that they are following the Emergency Order and the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. 

Business owners should review the list of essential business which are authorized to stay open, determine whether they fit into any of the categories and, if they do, make a business decision as to whether to stay open and/or adapt their operations. Business owners are encouraged to speak with their legal representative to determine whether their business falls within the definition of an essential business.

Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how the emergency order impacts their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.  Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30a.m.―5:00p.m.

For information on COVID-19, visit the Ministry of Health’s website.


What does this mean for the Archaeology Program Unit?

Ontario’s Past Portal (PastPort) remains accessible 24 hours a day. The Archaeology Program Unit continues to operate with staff working remotely. We continue to:

  • issue and renew archaeological licences
  • assign PIF numbers to projects
  • review archaeological reports
  • process archaeological report due date extension requests
  • process expedited review requests for archaeological assessment reports
  • respond to requests for technical advice
  • carry out all other business functions


Contacting Archaeology Program Unit staff

If you need to reach a member of the Archaeology Team, please email them, copying Copying will help us ensure you will receive a response, in the event that the person you are trying to reach becomes unavailable.


License reporting deadlines

At this time, report filing deadlines remain in effect, but please notify the program should meeting deadlines become challenging for you or your company. You may continue to formally request extensions where needed through PastPort.  


Indigenous community engagement

All Ontarians, including Indigenous communities, are currently facing unique challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It must be recognized that the pandemic situation may affect an Indigenous community’s capacity to be engaged on archaeological projects or have Field Liaison Representatives participate in archaeological fieldwork.

In response to COVID-19, many band councils have chosen to close their offices temporarily. Meetings and gatherings across the province have been cancelled, including those in First Nation communities. Some First Nations have declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 and/or are self-isolating. 

Despite the current pandemic, consultant archaeologists must continue to meet all applicable standards for Indigenous community engagement under the 2011 Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists. 

When planning Indigenous community engagement on a project, archaeologists should give consideration to an Indigenous community's capacity to be engaged during this emergency. Band council offices may not be open to receive requests for engagement, community consultation meetings may be cancelled, and human resource capacity, already a challenge for many Indigenous communities, may be stretched further. Lack of responses to engagement notices or meeting requests at this time should not be interpreted as a refusal or lack of interest to participate in the engagement process. 

Flexibility is key to ensuring meaningful community engagement processes continue. The following are some suggestions, but it is best for archaeologists to speak with Indigenous communities to determine how they would like to be engaged at this time:

  • Extend the time for Indigenous communities to respond to engagement requests 
  • Offer virtual opportunities for communities to participate in engagement
  • Offer regular teleconference updates about the archaeological work
  • Offer "physical distance" monitoring opportunities
  • Discuss other engagement opportunities suggested by Indigenous communities
  • Postpone archaeological projects where engagement is not feasible at this time

If you have any questions or concerns, please email

Thank you,

The Archaeology Program Unit

Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

Copyright 2015 APA Terms of Use
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software