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Financial supports, safe return to work among RAIC COVID-19 survey issues

Angela Gismondi
Financial supports, safe return to work among RAIC COVID-19 survey issues

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) developed its COVID-19 Pulse Survey to gain insight into the needs of members and how to support the architectural community as the pandemic unfolds.

The survey was initially shared on March 24 and received over 125 responses in the first 24 hours. Because of overwhelming engagement, the deadline was extended to the end of March. About 309 responses were received from solo practitioners to large firms across the country. Roughly 83 per cent were RAIC members and 17 were non-members and just under 2,000 comments were received.

Currently, states the RAIC, survey responses are in the process of being analyzed and a summary of the results and trends are expected to be released in the near future.

The data will be used to inform RAIC activities such as advocacy, continuing education, practice and resources.

The RAIC also sent a letter to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau April 7, sharing preliminary information from the Pulse Survey.

“We are in the middle of an analysis right now but throughout the thematic analysis we’ve been able to identify a few key themes very quickly,” said Giovanna Boniface, vice-president of corporate affairs for the RAIC. “We used those themes in our latest letter to minister Morneau as well as other ministries where there would be some alignment with our message. We are using those results to prepare resources as much as we can for the profession, just listening to what people are saying.”

The survey included five questions: how has the COVID-19 crisis impacted you? What resources do you need to support your practice? What resources do you need to support your clients? What resources do you need to support your safety, health and well-being (and that of your clients)? And how else have you and/or your work been disrupted? Respondents were also asked to provide other comments.

According to the preliminary analysis of the survey results the most frequently mentioned themes include:

  • Financial hardship and immediate need for cash flow: The survey states cash flow to sustain basic living expenses and self-employed, single-member practices have little or no government support that “fits”;
  • Human resources, specifically, actual and impending layoffs and a strong desire to retain staff: Respondents highlighted support for keeping staff on payroll, concern about the ability to remobilize quickly when the crisis eases/passes;
  • Safety concerns related to virus transmission: The results showed respondents sought knowledge about how to safely continue work on construction sites; Government of Canada health information, jobsite safety practice information;
  • Technology: More WiFi bandwidth and (internet providers) to reduce rates so staff are not forced to pay additional costs while working from home; extra costs related to new remote working video and internet subscriptions;
  • Mental health: Results showed a need for support resources to share with staff on stress and anxiety, severe financial instability and uncertainty affecting practice viability and potentially the mental health of individuals remaining in the firm, isolation and uncertainty for future; and
  • Need to safely and quickly return to operations, specifically, resumption of projects and RFPs.

“One of the most frequently mentioned themes was financial hardship and immediate need for cash flow,” said Boniface. “That’s no different than any Canadian. It was mentioned by every single respondent. The analysis that we will be sharing in the next couple of weeks will include these themes, it will include any additional high-level themes as well as the quotes we receive from individuals and our action plan.”

Upcoming advocacy efforts will focus on urging the government to ensure the emergency wage subsidy benefit is available to architects and firms regardless of size and extending some of the subsidy benefits to small business owners, among other important issues, states a release.


Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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