To protect, conserve and preserve archaeological sites in Ontario, inspectors enforce:

The archaeological fieldwork may be subject to other laws such as for health and safety (Occupational Health and Safety Act) or for human remains (Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act); however, the inspector does not review for compliance with these laws.

Why fieldwork or a facility may be inspected

The ministry may inspect archaeological fieldwork or a facility for several reasons:

  • to conduct a routine site inspection
  • to evaluate compliance with legislative requirements and the conditions of the archaeologist’s licence
  • to address concerns identified through a report review
  • to respond to a complaint, or a referral from another government agency
  • to follow up a previous inspection that found violations

Prepare for an inspection

  1. Notify your staff, personnel, workers, etc. that an inspection will be conducted and to be fully cooperative with the inspector.
  2. Keep your fieldwork records organized and readily accessible. Ensure your records are detailed and document the decision-making process and the outcomes of the decisions. This will keep the inspection time to a minimum.

Who performs inspections

Under the Ontario Heritage Act, an inspector is a government employee with the legal authority to enter a property or premises to conduct an inspection in Ontario.

Inspectors are committed to professionalism and conducting inspections openly and transparently. Inspectors promote respect for the law and ensure that inspections are timely, consistent, impartial and courteous.

An inspector may be accompanied by one or more experts, such as:

  • other ministry employees
  • academic archaeologists
  • a First Nations or Métis representative
  • a professional archaeologist

For example, an inspector who is not a trained archaeologist may be accompanied by a licensed archaeologist.

What to expect

When inspecting a facility, an inspector will often schedule the inspection with you in advance. In certain circumstances, it is necessary for an inspector to arrive unannounced. When inspecting archaeological fieldwork currently in progress or completed within one year before the inspection, an inspector will often arrive unannounced.

Upon arriving on the property or facility, the inspector will:

  • identify themself
  • ask to speak to the licensed archaeologist or the field director
  • produce a certificate of appointment and explain the purpose of the inspection and any areas of specific concern

When the licensed archaeologist isn’t present during an inspection (for example, if the archaeological fieldwork was completed within the past year), the archaeologist will be notified of the results and details of the inspection.

While on the property or in the facility, the inspector:

  • will collect information to evaluate compliance and make notes to record details of the inspection
  • may interview personnel, review records, tour the property, site or facility, collect samples, take photographs, or copy documents or conduct tests


During an inspection, if you have any questions or something is not clear, ask the inspector for clarification at any time during the inspection. Also be sure to inform the inspector of your site safety procedures.

What will be inspected

Depending on the purpose of the inspection, the inspector will look at some or all of the following:

  • ongoing field or laboratory work
  • the methods applied to the assessment
  • the strategy for the assessment
  • drawings, field notes, maps, photographs
  • artifacts, collected samples
  • laboratory and storage facilities

In addition to the property or facility tour and interview, the inspector has the authority to access and copy relevant records including:

  • photographs and videos
  • field notebooks and records
  • electronic records
  • maps
  • previous assessment reports.


It is important to provide accurate answers and information to the inspector. If you do not know the answer, either obtain the answer from someone who can respond or tell the inspector when and how you will supply an answer.

After the inspection

After the inspector has concluded the inspection, the inspector will review the information gathered. Based on that review, the inspector may request a meeting with the archaeologist(s). This may range from a brief and informal discussion to a formal meeting.

The inspector will review observations and, if necessary, request clarification. The inspector may ask for more information and will let you know how to provide it.

The inspector will discuss with you his or her observations of any non-compliance and explain the next steps to be taken.

It may take several days to complete a final compliance evaluation. In that case, the inspector will let you know when to expect a report.

If an inspector identifies non-compliance

If the archaeological fieldwork complies with ministry requirements, the inspector will take no action. However, every non-compliance situation identified will be promptly evaluated to determine whether it constitutes either:

  • a known or anticipated impact to archaeological sites (for example, improper use of mechanical equipment)
  • a potential, uncertain hazard (for example, use of an incorrect method or strategy leading to data loss)

In some situations, you could receive a verbal or written request to correct identified concerns within a certain time period. Such requests are typically used for minor issues and may result in a follow-up inspection.

If the inspector believes you have failed to comply with the Ontario Heritage Act, the inspector must provide a formal inspection report to the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and to the licensed archaeologist.

For instances where the compliance violations cannot be corrected, the inspector may recommend to the Archaeology Review Officer that the report on the assessment or mitigation be deemed non-compliant and not entered into the Ontario Public Register of Archaeological Reports


Consider conducting a self-assessment of your facility and fieldwork procedures to ensure that you are complying with the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists. This can help improve your compliance and identify opportunities to reduce the costs of the archaeological work at the site.