National order: Coast Guard Support to COVID‑19 Response
Effective April 9th, 2020 including addendum of April 21, 2020

From: Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard

TO: AC Atlantic; AC Central and Arctic; AC Western; AC Arctic; Director General Operations; Director General, Response.

COPY: ROC Atlantic; ROC Central and Arctic, ROC Western; Regional Director, Incident Management Atlantic; Senior Director, Fleet Central & Arctic Region, Regional Director, Incident Management Central and Arctic; Director, Incident Management Western; Senior Director, Operational Support; National Command Centre; Director General, DFO Communications; Senior Director, Incident Management; Director, Maritime Security, Manager, Office of Incident Management; Director General, Integrated Technical Services; Director General, Major Projects; Deputy Commissioner, Operations. Deputy Commissioner, Vessel Procurement; Executive Director, CCG College; Director General, Innovation, Planning and Engagement; Director, Enforcement Operations; Senior Director, Safety, Security, and Emergency Services; Director General Personnel.

Direction (Including desired outcomes)


On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared that the global outbreak of COVID‑19 is a pandemic. Control measures have been put in place at borders and ports of entry to reduce the risk of exposure to Canadians from people arriving from affected areas and steps are being taken to limit transmission through physical distancing and self-isolation of people believed to have been exposed to the virus. Any Coast Guard employee returning from outside the country is required to self-isolate for 14 days.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am issuing this order to reaffirm our Coast Guard priorities and provide clear direction as to the way forward to complement the direction provided by the Government of Canada and our Deputy Minister. As always, our primary objective is the health, safety and welfare of all Coast Guard personnel and their families, and includes ensuring that pay management is supported and that no new issues are created in the pay system.

Coast Guard’s priorities are to ensure we:

  1. maintain our Search and Rescue posture both at sea and ashore (which includes Marine Communications and Traffic Services)
  2. maintain our environmental response posture both at sea and ashore
  3. maintain icebreaking and flood control services
  4. maintain the provision of aids to navigation services focusing on priority aids and waterways management including dredging and information related to the management of the water column
  5. provide maritime domain awareness to our partners
  6. support Fisheries and Oceans departmental programs (Conservation and Protection, Sciences, Canadian Hydrographic Service)
  7. support other government departments

Coast Guard will consider requests for assistance from federal departments or agencies that are received from the Government Operations Centre or other federal entity with due regard to the impact on Coast Guard’s own priorities. Coast Guard may not provide resources to a request for assistance without the expressed authorization of the Commissioner. Activities outside of the priorities identified above will be governed by the Strategic Maritime Response Plan to Address Coronavirus and the Government of Canada Response Plan COVID-19.

Coast Guard Role

Coast Guard will continue to act in a Primary Department capacity according to its mandates under the Oceans Act, Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act. When providing personnel, materials, or assets, in response to a Request for Assistance, Coast Guard will act in a Supporting Department role.

Command, Control, and Coordination

Within National Headquarter, the National Lead is Director General of Operations, supported by DG Response as Deputy Lead, for the coordination of the COVID-19 response within Coast Guard.

To support timely and effective decision making by senior leadership, a National Emergency Coordination Centre (NECC) has been established in Headquarters to support coordination of the response at the national level. The NECC is coordinating its activities with Regional Emergency Operations and Coordination Centres EOC/ECCs to ensure effective information flow and alignment between headquarter and the regions.

Deputy Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners and Directors General are to take all necessary actions to ensure the following:

  1. Any Coast Guard employee returning to Canada following time out of the country is following direction for self-isolation for a period of 14 days;
  2. All actions directed by NECCs EOC/ECCs and captured in the Open Action Tracker are addressed and managed in a timely manner;
  3. Coast Guard employees are reassigned as appropriate to ensure service delivery in line with Coast Guard operational priorities (in their respective order);
  4. Enhanced Operating Procedures are being developed in a collaborative manner by Headquarter and Regions for Coast Guard personnel. Deputy Commissioners (DCs), Assistant Commissioners (ACs) and Directors General (DGs) are responsible to ensure proper distribution of the procedures down their chain of command;
  5. Coast Guard employees are following all advice and guidance concerning personal care to prevent COVID-19 infection and transmission developed and provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada;
  6. Leave for Coast Guard employees is governed by the direction provided by Treasury Board Secretariat;
  7. Critical centres (NCC, JRCCs, MRSCs, MCTS, ROCs and MSOCs) are to ensure their Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) remain relevant and sustainable under current COVID-19 remote working arrangements. All other sectors are to inform the DFO Departmental Security Officer (, with copy to Coast Guard NCC, of any impacts to their ability to provide critical services.

Care and Coordination of Personnel

Coast Guard leaders at all levels will be diligent in monitoring the welfare and coordinating the activity of their personnel. This is especially necessary in what will almost certainly be a protracted period of telework. Specifically:

  1. Directors and Managers are to maintain communications with their personnel over a reliable Government system. DFO email, text message and voice call using DFO-issued mobile phones should be the default methods of communication. Communicating over DFO laptops using home Wi-Fi and webmail is also acceptable. VPN use is to be strictly limited in accordance with the Commissioner’s direction.
  2. Directors and Managers are to conduct checks with their personnel regularly but no greater than weekly to assess their health and welfare and also to confirm that they have the tools and guidance to do their work. Any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases (or other serious illness) and any instances of self-isolation are to be immediately reported up to responsible DGs for inclusion in the NCC’s national reporting. Please re-assure your employees that confidentiality of information provided will be respected.
  3. As the health of personnel and their access to work resources permits, work tasks may be progressed in accordance with the Coast Guard priorities listed above. It is recognized that telework will necessitate a reduction in work capacity and tempo. Focus is to be placed on operational priorities and taskings.
  4. Particularly in the concerning environment of the COVID-19 pandemic, telework can lead to feelings of isolation. Telework also presents a challenge to coordination and information sharing. Coast Guard leaders at all levels will do their utmost to share information, maintain work group cohesion, and promote morale by ensuring their people know that their leaders are fully engaged and actively monitoring their well-being.

Self Protective Measures

Effective immediately, regions, shore facilities and vessels are to adopt the following measures to protect the health of Coast Guard personnel and aid in maintaining operational capability.

  1. Shore facilities and vessels are to limit access to essential Coast Guard personnel and those contractors whose physical presence is critical to the continuance of operations and program delivery. This includes essential regulatory and vessel life extension work.
  2. Shore facility and vessel access points are to be continuously manned to ensure positive control of access. The use of unmanned or non-secure access points is to be discontinued immediately.
  3. Shore facility and vessel access points are to be continuously manned to ensure positive control of access. The use of unmanned or non-secure access points is to be discontinued immediately.
  4. Prior to any person being allowed to access a Coast Guard vessel, they are to be assessed by the vessel’s Rescue Specialist or Commanding Officer’s delegate. Any persons displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, per Health Canada's guidance) are to be denied access to vessels.
  5. Shore leave for Coast Guard vessel crews on duty is cancelled. Whether in port or at anchor, crews are to remain on board their vessels for the entire period of duty except on ship’s business. This applies to vessel crews with accommodations provided either on board or at their base facility.

Procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Coast Guard has access to additional quantities of PPE (including masks, gowns, gloves and similar items) through a bulk purchase to be made by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). All regions are to anticipate the demand for additional PPE and report these requirements to the NECC.

Bulk order requirements might not be fulfilled in a timely manner as equipment is re-directed to address higher priority demands, such as hospitals. With due regard to the priorities mentioned above, Regions may investigate purchase or inter-departmental transfer of locally available PPE to satisfy immediate shortages. The sharing of best practices amongst regions is highly encouraged.

Public information and communications strategy:

The Coast Guard is following a mainly low-profile, responsive communications approach, however proactive messages are being shared on social media to maintain confidence in the Coast Guard’s services. All media calls are being directed to Health Canada, as the Government of Canada’s communications lead. Media lines, based on guidelines to staff, have been prepared by DFO Communications staff, in the event the Coast Guard is requested to support other government departments’ response efforts directly related to an event involving COVID-19. These lines are being updated as required.

Reporting requirements

Critical Information Requirements:

The Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner of Operations are to be informed by email via the Director General of Operations and the National Command Centre if:

  1. injuries are sustained by Coast Guard personnel which require hospitalization;
  2. Coast Guard personnel are reasonably believed to have been exposed to COVID‑19,
  3. Coast Guard readiness posture is impacted negatively;
  4. additional tasks or Requests for Assistance are received from other government departments and agencies; and
  5. any new positive cases of COVID-19 in Coast Guard are confirmed.

Situation Reports:

Regions are to provide daily situation reports. A template will be provided by the NECC via separate correspondence. Situation reports are to be forwarded directly to the NCC for coordination and further dissemination.

Operational Rhythm:

Coordinating calls between the NECC and EOC/ECCs will occur Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 1400 EST. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss key issues, challenges, and National Headquarter support requirements. Command coordination calls will occur on Wednesday at 1400 EST. The purpose of this meeting is command-level coordination between Headquarter and the regions.


Original signed by Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard

Date modified: