Bilingual Procurement Documentation Update (From Winter 2022 edition of The Engineer)
There have been past updates regarding the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) requirement for the translation of engineering work products in both official languages—French and English—each being of equal quality and published at the same time, as part of Policy PN-48R1.
In recent discussions with PSPC, we have come to understand the following clarification regarding the translation issue:
- The bilingual document requirement extends solely to items placed on a public website like BuyandSell.gc.ca (e.g., Issued for Tender, solicitations, notices, etc.).
- It does not impose dual-language requirements on non- public documents, including Issued for Construction (i.e., drawings that someone will build at a construction site or manufacturer) or Issued for Approval (such as those that would go to the permit office of a city or a regulator).
- Submissions to a federal regulator that would normally be in a single language are not affected by the policy.
Based on the above clarification, the effect of the bilingual requirement appears to be more limited than first thought. From a public safety perspective, we do not believe this will introduce translation errors into manufacturing and construction. However, our registrants will be responsible for any translated content they may be involved with, and are reminded to only accept responsibility for work they can understand (if translated), and that is within their area of competence.
It is understood that PSPC will be updating policy PN-48R1, and will be consulting with all of the engineering regulatory bodies on updating the policy, before the end of the calendar year. Additional updates on this issue will be provided as they are available.
Past updates are below:
Effective May 13, 2022, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) may require submissions of engineering work products in both official languages—French and English—each being of equal quality and published at the same time.
This change to contracting professional services may place a professional engineer who knows only one of the two official languages in the position of being asked to stamp work they are unable to verify. The challenges with precise translation of technical work means the translator may need engineering competence and will need to collaborate with the responsible professional engineer.
We are currently assessing our existing Guideline for use of the Professional Stamp, and it will be updated to include additional guidance regarding the stamping of translated work products. Engineers are reminded to only stamp a work that they have prepared directly, that were prepared under their Direct Supervision and Control, or that were prepared by others but thoroughly reviewed by the engineer.
If an engineer is not sufficiently proficient to take responsibility for a translation, a bilingual engineer competent in the subject matter area should stamp the translated portion of the document. In these cases, each engineer would apply their stamp with a qualification of what responsibility is implied by the stamp.
We will continue to assess these new requirements, and discussions with PWGSC are underway. Additional information and guidance will be provided when available.
Please send an email to: TPSGC.PASPSPublications-APSPSPublications.PWGSC@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca with “Official Languages” in the subject line, to provide comments or feedback on these changes, of if you have more detailed questions for PWGSC.
The notice sent out by PSPC on May 16, 2022, is provided below:
This notice is to inform you that Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has released an updated policy notification that contains requirements in respect of the Official Languages Act (OLA). The policy notification PN-48R1 came into force on May 13, 2022.
The federal government has the legal obligation to serve and communicate with the public in both official languages, pursuant to the OLA and all regulations thereunder including the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations.
This updated policy notification includes new and updated provisions to ensure that all procurement notices and related tender documents posted on the Government’s Electronic Tendering Service (GETS) are in both official languages. Tender documents include performance specifications, blueprints, architectural drawings, reports, graphics or other technical documentation that is included as part of a tender package.
While in the Atlantic Region, PSPC has been posting most procurement tenders in both official languages, this did not always include technical documentation such as those documents noted above. PSPC typically puts in place contracts with architectural and engineering consulting firms for the development of these types of technical documents. As PSPC moves towards implementation of the revised policy, the department will gradually be including in their contracts, standing offers and/or call-ups with architectural and engineering consulting firms a requirement to produce – in a timely manner when requested – the aforementioned tender documents in both official languages.
This notice is intended for awareness and to help prepare the architectural and engineering supplier community for this bilingual requirement that will soon begin to appear in PSPC Atlantic Region’s architectural and engineering tenders.