COVID-19 - Procurement Operations FAQ

Purchasing Services is working closely with the University’s key suppliers to monitor any interruptions in the supply of goods and services that are critical to the University’s various operations.

We are providing updates on the supply chain and logistics based on information we receive from our supplier partners. As the situation evolves, we will add more information to the website on an ongoing basis.


Can I pay an invoice for goods that I have asked the supplier to hold for us at their warehouse?

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No. An invoice cannot be paid until the goods are received.

If the supplier is requiring the payment of invoice, we should make arrangements to have the goods delivered to the University and moved to an appropriate location for storage. Upon receiving the goods, we can then authorize the invoice to be paid.

Can I arrange for a supplier to ship items ordered under a LVPO or HVPO to my home?

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Yes, but only if the items are required for the University’s essential operations and need to be received at home to sustain ongoing operations while we work from home.

For items that are not required for working from home, deliveries of those orders should either be deferred or directed to University Centre (UC) Receiving.

UC receiving is operating and receiving shipments on behalf of all closed buildings at this moment. The UC Receiving Team has put in place a process of receiving and distributing packages to departments on campus on a regular basis. Items not deliverable to departments will be held at the UC Receiving Dock for the time being.

Considering the limitations of storage and resources at UC Receiving, it is recommended that, wherever possible, departments cancel or postpone the deliveries of purchases that are not required at this time if the cancellation or postponement will not result in extra charges to the University.  Deliveries to UC Receiving should only be arranged for those orders that cannot be cancelled or rescheduled.

Can I use the University’s courier account to ship a document from home?

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Yes, but only if it is for University business and is necessary. 

The University advises that all documents to be sent externally should be sent digitally rather than by hard copy.  However, if the receiver insists on a hard copy original then it is acceptable to ship from your home on the University account.

The University has arranged with FedEx and Purolator for shipping documents from an employee’s home.

To arrange shipping of a document, please follow these steps:

  • Log in the carrier’s shipping portal using your login ID set up under your department’s account.
  • Complete all fields for shipment information as you would normally, including GL coding. The only difference is that you must enter your home address in the shipper’s address field. 
  • Once completed, print the shipping label. 
  • If you have the carrier’s standard document envelope, affix the label to the envelope. If not, set aside the label.
  • Call the courier to arrange for pickup from your home address.
  • When the courier arrives, hand the document package with the shipping label to the carrier.

For information on how to create a shipment online or how to set up an account for the couriers’ online shipping portal, follow the processes at

Can I use the University’s courier account to ship a package from home that’s not a document?

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For non-document shipments, in light of the current State of Emergency, only shipments required for the operation of essential services should be considered.  Non-essential shipments are discouraged and should be minimized.

For essential shipments, if the package is destined for a location outside of Canada, customs documentation must be prepared as per CBSA regulations prior to shipping. Please complete Request for Shipping Documentation form and email it to  The University’s customs team will prepare the customs documentation and will email them to you along with related instructions.

If the package is destined for a domestic location, follow the same process as you would when shipping from your work address, except that you need to enter your home address as the shipper’s address. You will also need to call the courier to arrange for pickup from your home.

For information on how to create a shipment online or how to set up an account for the couriers’ online shipping portal, follow the processes at

Why is my document that was approved with my manager’s digital signature in place of wet signature rejected?

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To accommodate the current working-from-home arrangement, Financial Services has established Financial Services Guidelines  for various financial transaction processes, including deposits, invoice payments and purchasing.  Please follow the Guidelines to obtain or provide electronic approvals in place of wet signatures.

Images of signatures copied onto documents and digital signatures generated from software such as Adobe Fill & Sign or DocuSign are not consistent with these guidelines.  As such, they will not be accepted for internal financial processes at this time.  We are reviewing alternatives in an effort to improve processes going forward'.  Please note that this applies to internal financial processes only.

For certain external documents such as contracts, digital signatures or signature images may be acceptable. Departments should confirm with the external party who is seeking our signatures in such scenario.

Can I order office supplies from the University’s SMCs and have the orders delivered to my home?

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In short, yes, but there is a specific process that you must follow.

Orders placed with the University’s SMC suppliers with GL Coding shall be delivered to university office locations only.

In order to support the current working-from-home arrangement, the University has arranged with several office supply SMCs to extend the University’s contract pricing to employee’s orders.  The process requires that employees order the supplies as personal purchases and submit those costs as expense claims to get reimbursed. Where applicable, employees should follow the existing approval protocol in your area to obtain approval for such type of purchases.

The process to acquire the supplies delivered to your home would be as follows:

Staples Advantage

Grand and Toy

  • Contact Glenn Urquhart | Cell: 416-271-9518, to set up a personal account
  • Specific information will be provided with the account setup


Following receipt of the products, you can then submit a claim through the ECS system for reimbursement.

Will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the supply of goods and services to the University?

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The following suppliers have reported supply interruptions and product shortages as a result of COVID-19. In many cases, these supplies are being prioritized to health care providers.


Expected Interruptions and Product Shortages

Life Technologies/ Thermo Fisher Scientific

PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and throat/nasal swabs


Unprecedented global demand for kits for viral nucleic acid isolation (QIAamp Viral RNA Mini kits, cat #s 52904 and 52906) and the EZ1 Virus Kit (cat # 955134). 


 qPCR instruments (CFX96), used for COVID-19 testing

VWR International

Items that are directly related to COVID-19 (N-95 Mask, and other Personal Protection Equipment) are being prioritized to critical need areas

Swish Maintenance

PPE products such as gloves, masks; delay in order of sanitizer

Staples Advantage

Back ordered on medical safety supplies, such as disinfectant wipes, Purell sanitizer, respiratory masks

One Diversified Audio Visual Canada

General delays in Smart Technology Products (Smartboards S and R models)

CDW Canada

High demand on laptop products


Longer lead time for laptops due to high demand

Dell Canada

Intel delay is impacting inventories

Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre

Open for catered events, meetings, and accommodations.

Restaurant remains closed. Breakfast, lunch and snack items are available for purchase through Front Desk ‘Good to Go’ Market.

Red Car Services Shared Ride Airport Service has been suspended. Only private service to any airport or other destination is available.

In addition, some suppliers expressed concerns over the border shutdown between the United States and Canada as this could affect their supply chain. As the situation evolves, we will provide further updates in this area.

Other than the noted exceptions above, many of our Supply Managed Contract (SMC) suppliers have indicated no anticipated negative impacts on their supply chains and inventories.

Will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the onsite services the University receives on a regular basis?

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Yes. As of March 17, the majority of University employees are working remotely. As a result, many departments and buildings on campus are not accessible to our suppliers who provide regular onsite services. This means service suppliers will not be coming on site to provide their scheduled services. These services will be suspended until further notice, except for the departments in the subsequent list:

  • Culligan Water (Bottled Water Delivery)
  • Stericycle (previously Shred-It) (Document Collecting and Shredding)
  • Toshiba-OE Canada (Photocopier Usage Checking and Servicing)
  • Whiz-A-Top (Laundry and Linen Services)

As of March 25, the following departments remain open and operational. The above services will continue for the following departments only.

  • Laboratory Services Division
    • Animal Health Lab 
    • Agriculture and Food Lab 
  • Ontario Veterinary College Health Science Centre
    • Companion Animal Hospital 
    • Animal Cancer Centre 
    • Large Animal Hospital 
  • Ridgetown campus
  • All remote research stations

If your department is not listed above but remains operational and requires these onsite services, please notify Purchasing Services by email at (email address).

How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect shipments delivered by couriers?

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To date, all the University’s designated couriers - FedEx, Purolator and UPS - have confirmed that their delivery service is largely operating as usual. However, UPS has made changes to their delivery operations so that their driver will only go to one location for each delivery address.

At the Guelph campus (50 Stone Road East), only the receiving docks at University Centre and Summerlee Science Complex are open during regular business hours. Departments at the Guelph campus have one of the following options for package delivery:

  • Deliver packages to the UC Loading Dock (UC Room 021).
  • Hold their packages at courier’s local distribution depot for re-direction. Please note that packages held at courier’s depot for an extended period could be returned to the shipper at the courier’s discretion.

The University Centre Receiving Team can currently help coordinate distribution to departments, including receiving parcels, notifying recipients and arranging for pick-up during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. However, due to restrictions on package size or type, and considering available storage space, UC Receiving might not be able to accept all packages.

Therefore, Purchasing Services has made the following arrangements with our couriers:

For departments operating as normal and NOT using the 50 Stone Road East address

If you encounter any issue with any of your deliveries, please contact (email address)

For departments using the 50 Stone Road East address

  • Couriers may attempt to deliver as normal
  • For any undelivered packages, couriers are asked to contact Purchasing Services with relevant shipment information. Purchasing Services’ logistics team will contact the departments for redirection instructions. In cases where departments could not provide an alternative receiving location, packages will be directed to UC Receiving.
  • In cases where couriers will only deliver to one location for all parcels destined to 50 Stone Road East, UC Receiving will be the designated receiving location for now.

Due to the above changes, departments are asked that:

  • If you are expecting packages from FedEx, Purolator or UPS, check with the UC Receiving Team to see if your packages have been delivered. If they have, please pick up your packages from the UC Loading Dock (UC Room 021) as soon as possible. The UC Receiving Team can be reached at (email address) or extension 53300.
  • If you can’t locate packages that you are expecting, email (email address) with the shipper/receiver name, courier name and tracking number. The Purchasing Services team will help coordinate with the couriers on the delivery re-direction.

When picking up packages, departments must observe social distancing practices. 

How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect orders shipped by suppliers using their own truck?

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Many of the University’s SMC suppliers who use their own trucks for delivery have confirmed with us that their delivery is currently not affected. However, this might not be the case for all suppliers. 

It is recommended that departments contact their suppliers directly to confirm if orders will be delivered as scheduled. 

In addition, departments are encouraged to reschedule or postpone any non-essential shipments that are not required immediately for your business operations.