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National order: Canadian Coast Guard's Renewed Guidance, Direction and Continued Posture amid the COVID-19 Pandemic Including Mandatory Rapid Testing 

FROM: Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard

TO: Assistant Commissioner Atlantic; Assistant Commissioner Central; Assistant Commissioner Western; Assistant Commissioner Arctic; Director General, Fleet and Maritime Services; Director General, Response; Director General, Coast Guard Personnel.

COPY: ROC Atlantic; ROC Central, ROC Western; Regional Director, Incident Management Atlantic; Senior Director, Fleet Central Region; Senior Director, Fleet Western Region; Senior Director, Fleet Atlantic Region; Regional Director, Incident Management, Central; Director, Incident Management Western; Senior Director, Operational Support; National Command Centre; Director General, DFO Communications; Senior Director, Incident Management; Director, Maritime Security; Director General, Integrated Technical Services; Director General, Major Projects; Deputy Commissioner, Operations; Deputy Commissioner, Shipbuilding and Materiel; Executive Director, Canadian Coast Guard College; Director General, Innovation, Planning and Engagement; Director, Enforcement Operations; Director, Safety Management System; Director General, Strategic and Regulatory Science; Director General, Conservation and Protection

Direction (including desired outcomes)

This national order supersedes the national order signed on April 1, 2022 and is added to the guidance developed by the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), central agencies or public health authorities relating to the COVID 19 pandemic and emphasizes CCG's commitment to the safety and security of its personnel, both seagoing and shore based.

Commissioner’s intent

In light of the suspension of the mandatory vaccination policy for employees of the Core Public Administration (CPA), I am issuing this new order to inform all CCG personnel of the corresponding adjustments to the organization's rapid testing, health screening, and masking requirements.

As we start to reduce the use of mandatory safety measures put in place in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, it is expected that all personnel will exercise fair and reasonable judgement in evaluating health and safety risks in the workplace. In this context, it is important that we demonstrate respect for the choices made by others regarding matters of personal health and risk tolerance.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my continued appreciation for CCG personnel's dedication and professionalism during this trying situation. Your dedication in ensuring that the agency continues to provide its valuable services to Canadians is truly commendable.

Situation

The federal public service continues to be guided by the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada's Public Service Occupational Health Program.

Mandatory rapid testing for designated staff was introduced as the number of cases associated with the COVID‑19 Omicron variant of concern were increasing rapidly in Canada. CCG is further adapting its rapid testing requirements to balance present risk with sustaining the successful delivery of programs and services to Canadians.

Vaccination, along with other preventive measures (including mask-wearing, maintaining physical distance, and frequent handwashing) recommended as effective layers of protection to prevent the spread of COVID‑19. Rapid testing will continue to be used to manage risk, and will be mandatory in some circumstances and recommended in others in accordance with operational requirements.

As always, our most important priority remains the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of all CCG personnel. We continue to successfully deliver the agency's and partners' programs throughout the COVID‑19 pandemic through new and innovative ways of delivering services to Canadians while simultaneously protecting the health and safety of CCG personnel and those with whom they come into contact.

In the event that the continued or new impacts of the pandemic necessitate the prioritization of CCG missions, my operational priorities remain as follows:

  1. maintain our search and rescue (SAR) posture both at sea and ashore (which includes Marine Communications and Traffic Services [MCTS])
  2. maintain our environmental response posture both at sea and ashore
  3. maintain icebreaking and flood control services, and support Arctic resupply operations
  4. maintain the provision of aids to navigation services focusing on operational priority aids and waterways management, including dredging and information related to the management of the water column
  5. support DFO's departmental programs (Conservation and Protection, Science, Canadian Hydrographic Service)
  6. maintain the capability to address vessels of concern by assessing associated risks to the environment or public safety and take mitigation actions as appropriate
  7. support other government departments, including the provision of maritime domain awareness

Command, control and coordination

The delivery of CCG's programs and services remains the responsibility of the respective directors general (DGs) and assistant commissioners (ACs) as part of their regular lines of business. DGs and ACs must ensure that COVID‑19 considerations are appropriately applied to ensure programs are delivered effectively while maintaining the health, safety, and security of CCG employees. They are also responsible for ensuring that employees in their respective regions comply with rapid testing when operationally required.

The authority to issue new COVID-19 related measures rests with the Commissioner, who will issue requests for new policies and procedures, or updates to existing documentation as deemed appropriate. These policies and procedures are considered the minimum standard to be applied. To maintain operational readiness and/or following local public health variances, regions may prescribe additional measures for visitors and staff based on operational needs and local public health variances.

The DG, Fleet and Maritime Services, continues to be the CCG's National COVID‑19 Lead. Tasks will be assigned to DGs and ACs in accordance with the existing governance model.

All coordination within the CCG at headquarters and within the regions will be conducted as per regular consulting, governance tables and reporting lines. Key COVID‑19 related files remain the responsibility of respective DGs and ACs as per CCG's COVID‑19 transition matrix, which outlines the distribution of COVID‑19 related responsibilities. Consultations within headquarters and with the regions will continue as required.

Care and coordination of personnel

Ensuring the health and safety of CCG personnel is the highest priority for the CCG. Management will maintain contact with staff to ensure their continued well-being, and keep them apprised of any developments affecting their work arrangements.

In handling personal information and reporting on COVID‑19 cases within the CCG, managers and others privy to this personal information will ensure that employees' privacy continues to be protected. Our core public service values, including respect, must remain at the forefront of our discussions and interactions when dealing with this issue.

Protective measures

Measures and guidance documents adopted to protect the health, safety, and security of CCG's employees remain in place. These guidance documents cover issues such as: managing outbreaks on board vessels; screening processes for access to vessels and facilities; vessel sanitation; and cleaning and disinfecting workplaces. Assigned program areas are responsible to maintain and update these documents as required and to introduce new guidance as needed. These documents are available on this page.

Our organization continues to apply the use of effective layers of protection to prevent the spread of COVID‑19 and keeps apprised of new and innovative ways of supporting the health and safety of its personnel, aligned with risk levels and the advice of local public health authorities. In this regard, the CCG has revised the mandatory rapid testing policy for staff, and supernumeraries as follows:

Operational centres (MCTS, ROC, JRCC, etc.) – voluntary rapid testing will remain as an available tool, and is recommended at the start of each shift cycle.
Arctic Fleet – mandatory rapid testing required 3 times in the week prior to crew change, before boarding, and 3 times within the first 7 days on board.
Non-Arctic Fleet – mandatory rapid testing required before boarding at the start of each crew change cycle.

CCG employees, as well as visitors to CCG premises, are expected to follow best practices such as physical distancing, hand washing, mask-wearing and self-isolation (as required), and to follow all guidance from the Public Health agency of Canada and from local public health authorities.

Public information and communications strategy

Coast Guard Strategic and Digital Communications services are fully operational and continue to deliver communications services on behalf of the CCG. This includes managing media calls, as well as delivering proactive media messaging and communications products. CCG COVID‑19 key operational messages have been prepared and are being updated as required.

Proactive COVID‑19 key messages are being shared on social media to maintain confidence in CCG's service delivery capacity, and additional content is being amplified from other departments on national social media channels.

Reporting Requirements

Critical information requirements

  1. Reporting is to follow established national incident notification procedures for any instance where the CCG readiness posture or its ability to deliver program or services are significantly impacted due to COVID‑19.
  2. The reporting of any positive COVID‑19 test result obtained through the CCG's rapid test screening or through local health authorities, and subsequent updates must follow established A-E reporting procedures.

The National Command Centre (NCC) will then inform through established processes the Director General, Fleet and Maritime Services, and the Director General, Coast Guard Personnel, who will ensure the Commissioner is informed via the appropriate channels.

Reporting and operational rhythm

Reporting is to follow established national incident notification procedures.

Signature of Commissioner or delegate

 

commissioners signature

 

DATE: July 21, 2022

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