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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, CCG 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 December 23, 2021 and is added to the guidance developed by the Canadian Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), central agencies or public health authorities relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasizes Coast Guard’s commitment to the safety and security of its personnel, both seagoing and shore-based.

Commissioner’s intent

I am issuing this new order to inform Canadian Coast Guard personnel of the adjustment of mandatory rapid testing requirements, which complement the other measures already in place to protect the health, safety, and security of the organization’s employees.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my continued appreciation for Canadian Coast Guard 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. Coast Guard is further adapting it rapid testing requirements to balance present risk with sustaining the successful delivery of programs and services to Canadians.

Mandatory vaccination, along with other preventive practices related to COVID-19, including mandatory mask-wearing, maintaining physical distance, and frequent handwashing as outlined in the Public Service Occupational Health Program guidance, all work together to combat the pandemic. Mandatory rapid testing remains an added layer of protection for Fleet employees and employees working in operational centres, Canadian Coast Guard College employees and cadets, and visitors to the College. Regions may implement additional rapid test screening in accordance with regional requirements and risks.

In addition, further to Health Canada’s recommendation for all public servants, all Coast Guard personnel are encouraged to seek a COVID-19 booster when eligible to do so.

As always, our most important priority remains the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of all Canadian Coast Guard 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 Canadian Coast Guard 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 Canadian Coast Guard 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 Canadian Coast Guard’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 Canadian Coast Guard employees. They are also responsible for ensuring that employees in their respective regions comply with the mandatory vaccination policy and mandatory rapid testing.

The authority to issue new COVID-19 related tasks rests with the Commissioner, who will issue requests for new policies and procedures, or updates to existing documentation as deemed appropriate. The DG, Fleet and Maritime Services continues to be the Canadian Coast Guard’s National COVID-19 Lead. Tasks will be assigned to DGs and ACs in accordance with the existing governance model.

All coordination within the Canadian Coast Guard 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 Canadian Coast Guard’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 Canadian Coast Guard personnel is the highest priority for the Canadian Coast Guard. We continue to provide tools and options, such as teleworking for employees who can perform their work remotely, and rapid test screening for targeted employees, to ensure that all members have the best guidance and equipment to do their jobs safely. 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 Canadian Coast Guard, 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

In addition to the Government of Canada’s mandatory vaccination policy, the measures and guidance documents adopted to protect the health, safety, and security of Canadian Coast Guard’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. (This page is accessible only on the Government of Canada network.)

Our organization continues to apply COVID-19 prevention measures and keeps apprised of new and innovative ways of supporting the health and safety of its personnel, aligned with risk levels. In this regard, the Canadian Coast Guard is introducing a revised mandatory rapid testing policy, which will apply to all Fleet employees, employees in operational centres (MCTS, ROC, JRCC etc.), and College employees and cadets. Fleet employees will be required to self-test only in the week prior to arriving for duty and for the first 7 days on board. Employees in operational centres are required to self-test 2-3 times per week in accordance with regional guidelines. Canadian Coast Guard College employees and cadets are required to self-test 3 times per week. Other staff and visitors to CCG installations and assets may be required to test based on regional or College guidelines.

Mandatory rapid testing for employees with approved accommodations under the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy continues to apply as well as the voluntary rapid testing program for screening purposes before employees access select public sector worksites. Both programs are managed separately.

Coast Guard employees are expected to follow best practices such as physical distancing, hand washing, mandatory 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 Coast Guard. This includes managing media calls, as well as delivering proactive media messaging and communications products. Coast Guard 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 Coast Guard’s service delivery capacity, and additional content is being amplified from other departments on national social media channels.

Reporting Requirements

Critical information requirements

Reporting is to follow established National Incident Notification Procedures of the following:

  1. any instance where Coast Guard personnel are reasonably believed to have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, and subsequent updates
  2. any positive result obtained through the Coast Guard’s rapid test screening or through local health authorities, and subsequent updates
  3. any instance where the Coast Guard readiness posture or its ability to deliver program or services are significantly impacted due to COVID-19

The 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

DATE: April 1, 2022

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