FAQ: Public Health Measures (PHMs) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guide

Note: This page has been archived and is no longer in use. For the most up-to-date COVID-19 FAQs, please consult the new Defence Team COVID-19 FAQs web page.

What PHMs and PPEs are in place within DND/CAF facilities?

As outlined in the latest CDS/DM directive, Defence Team members will continue to adhere to the appropriate PHMs within DND/CAF facilities in order to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

Using the PHM Qualitative Comparison Framework, L1/Commands will consider all PHMs available and make determinations as to whether additional measures such as an increased mask quality or rapid testing may be warranted. These decisions will be based on the distinct situation at each respective unit/workplace.

Leadership will communicate with staff regarding the specific PPEs required and PHMs that will be in place in each respective unit/workplace. If you have any questions, we encourage you to speak with your supervisor, manager or Chain of Command.

If one of my colleagues tests positive for COVID-19, will the entire personnel in the same building be required to undergo testing or not? Are there testing centres in military bases in Canada?

No, all personnel in the building will not be required to undergo testing. However, all members must report to the CoC immediately if they believe that they have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 and they must comply with local public health directed isolation/quarantine procedures.

The CAF is in the process of obtaining Rapid Antigen Detection Test kits from Health Canada. Information regarding distribution will soon be released.

Do I have to wear the DND issued Non-Medical Mask (NMM)? Can I wear my own?

If you are authorized to report for duty or work and you are unable to maintain 2 metre physical distancing while conducting your work related tasks, a non-medical mask (NMM) will be distributed via L1s. Reach out to your manager or Chain of Command to learn how to acquire your mask. If you are able to maintain 2 metre physical distancing but still wish to wear a NMM mask, you may wear a personally acquired or fabricated one.

The NMM is now a part of CAF uniform and must be worn within the CAF guidelines of uniformity, discipline and maintaining a positive military appearance. FG/L1s will ensure that NMMs worn while in uniform are conservative in design and colour, provide no overt support to industry, and shall not include slang language or offensive content.

DND employees and any other persons granted access to Defence establishments may also choose to wear their own NMM.

All personally acquired or fabricated NMMs must be compliant with Public Health Agency of Canada specifications. Medical grade masks (including surgical masks and N95 masks) will not be issued to the majority of DT members. You can also read more in the DM/CDS Joint Directive on PHM and PPE.

What physical distancing and other measures are still in effect?

Measures taken or in the process of being taken at all Defence Establishments include;

  • marked one-way pathways and staircases;
  • elevators are for use by individuals with limited mobility;
  • hand sanitizer available at each entrance/exit. Please keep in mind that frequent hand washing with soap for at least twenty seconds is still the most effective way to sanitize hands;
  • direction given to L1s and Commands on how cubicles can and should be occupied; and
  • washrooms, for the most part, are single occupancy.

I have been in isolation and working from home. I'm hesitant to get a haircut due to the proximity of a stranger within the 2 meter distance. Will there be any direction regarding hair or is this at the discretion of unit CO and RSM?

No instructions will be submitted on social isolation following haircuts, however Public Health guidance should be followed at all times. If you can't maintain a distance of 2 metres, a mask should be worn. We understand that there is a lot of confusion regarding social isolation requirements so we encourage you to inquire with your chain of command and they will provide direction for you to follow specific to your region and circumstances.

What if a non-medical mask is required to be at my work place and I am uncomfortable wearing a mask to work (claustrophobic)?

A non-medical mask is only required when one cannot maintain the minimum 2 meter physical distancing. If you are in your own cubicle/office, then a NMM may not be necessary. You could also politely ask all visitors to your cubicle/office to maintain their distance.

I am a civilian and have a respiratory disease. Wearing a mask flares up my symptoms and I feel dizzy. My employer is providing me with a cloth masks to wear in the office. What are my options?

There are several options available to you in this situation. Since you have an underlying health condition, your manager can allow you to continue to work from home. If you provide a critical service and must be in the work place, then your manager can provide a surgical mask or respirator, which are supposed to be hypoallergenic. Finally, you could be allowed to take Leave 699. TBS/OCHRO will provide a determination if this type of leave will continue past the end of June.

Are face shields an acceptable substitute for non-medical masks in the workplace?

Face shields on their own do not replace masks. A face shield can be worn in addition to a mask for added eye protection. As such, we recommend the continued use of NMM where physical distancing measures cannot be meet. However, a combination of NMM and Plastic Face Shield as PHMs would work.

Water sewer workers are required to wear N95 masks for certain procedures. Working with sewage and when we were required to reopen buildings and run the water taps. Local Procurement Specialists can't get them as we are not defined as front line workers. How do we get those masks?

A RP Operations Detachment’s Water, Fuel & Environment technicians have utilized industrial safety masks for specific tasks (such as during operation and maintenance of sewage treatment plants) even before the emergence of the COVID-19 virus. This PPE requirement has not changed and is still a requirement for safely conducting the tasks. These masks are not required for flushing a facility’s domestic water supply or subsequently testing it. It is recommended that if there is a supply chain issue, that the RP Ops Detachment personnel raise this issue to their supervisor for resolution.

What should I do if, once back in the workplace, I feel that others around me are not adhering to the Public Health Measures (PHM) that have been implemented for the good of everyone?

If you see that someone is not adhering to the up-to-date PHM that have been dictated, a simple reminder to your colleague can go a long way. Use your judgement to determine when you might just remind your co-worker of a specific measure or ask them to maintain physical distancing. When appropriate, it might be necessary to speak with your chain of command.

If you have engaged your chain of command and still feel that the prescribed procedures are not being followed, Defence Team members can contact the General Safety Program at P-OTG.GenSafetyProgEnq@intern.mil.ca and they will follow up with your supervisor or local chain-of-command to ensure the PHMs are being followed/met.

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, how are privacy considerations upheld when contact tracing and notifying staff and clients?

The identity of a Defence Team member who tests positive for COVID-19 is protected under the Privacy Act and would never be disclosed to other personnel. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, while it is their responsibility to advise their immediate supervisor, their name will be fully protected when the case is reported to OCHRO/ESDC through D Safe G. Should you be identified as someone who was in contact with a confirmed case you will receive a call from a contact tracer – this could be through Canadian Forces Health Services (for CAF members), your local public health unit (civilian personnel), or your supervisor/manager. Contact tracers will work with you to confirm your risk level, and if appropriate, will provide daily follow up calls for up to 14 days. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities and across the country, Canadians are advised to follow the public health recommendations within their jurisdictions.

Can CAF personnel get tested at any provincial site or do they need to be tested at a DND facility?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, testing of CAF personnel has been conducted by Canadian Forces Health Services (CFHS) in cooperation with provincial and territorial health agencies. Canadian Armed Forces medical clinics are fully engaged in the fight against COVID-19 and helping to ease the pressure on the provincial and territorial health systems by taking care of CAF members.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been identified as requiring a test through contact tracing measures, CAF members must follow the same process as everyone else. Seek a test at your local clinic/hospital, or at a health services centre if you are on a military base. You are then expected to follow instructions from medical personnel.

Cases of COVID-19 amongst CAF members are reported to the provincial public health authority in which they occur by the member’s supporting Health Services Centre in accordance with provincial requirements. As well, cases that are diagnosed through the support of the provincial laboratory would be automatically included in provincial case counts. In every jurisdiction, Health Services Centres coordinate case reporting and contact tracing with their civilian public health counterparts to ensure that all cases and contacts of COVID-19 receive the necessary follow-up, and the health and safety of all members of the Defence Team and the broader community is protected.

CAF members are encouraged to use the Public Health Agency of Canada online self-assessment tool and to follow local medical clinics’ advice if they develop symptoms or they think they need to be tested for COVID-19. CAF members can be provided advice by phone when contacting their respective clinic, based on the results of the self-assessment tool.

What is the policy on sharing workstations?

According to the latest CDS/DM directive, all personnel who return to the workplace, including those using shared workstations, are expected to understand and maintain the vigilant practice of Public Health Measures (PHMs). Depending on your region, this may include maintaining physical distancing of two metres, wearing of a non-medical mask, and frequent hand-washing. Decisions on PHMs will be made at the local level and communicated to you. If you are unsure of what PHMs you should be following, please reach out to your Chain of Command.

If you feel personnel are not following the PHMs, you are encouraged to bring the issue to your manager or supervisor. If the issue is not resolved, you can submit a complaint to the Conflict and Complaint Management Services (CCMS). If your issue is not handled locally to your satisfaction, you may also submit a grievance according to Queen's Regulations and Orders Chapter 7.

A member of my section tested positive for COVID-19. I was contacted and asked some questions and was deemed low risk and allowed back to work. Should my entire section be self-isolating?

No, those who have had a low risk exposure must self-monitor for symptoms.

As COVID-19 restrictions start to relax across the country, will local chains of command adopt these relaxed provincial/territorial restrictions within the workplace? If mask wearing is optional in certain provinces, will I still have to wear a mask in DND/CAF facilities?

DND/CAF will continue to take provincial/territorial (P/T) public health guidance and local conditions into consideration when applying and adjusting Public Health Measures (PHMs) at DND/CAF facilities and locations.

While P/T governments may ease restrictions on mask wearing, mask wearing may continue to be enforced at your location. Judicious application of all PHMs remains the default for all Defence Team settings.

For more information, please consult the CDS/DM Directive on DND/CAF Operating and Reconstituting in a Persistent COVID-19 Environment. To learn more about the PHMs in force at your location, please raise the issue with your manager or local Chain of Command.

My allergies present very similar to COVID-19 with one exception, absence of fever. Therefore, prior to entering a building, I would present most of the symptoms. I am fully vaccinated and I wear a mask. Will I need to be tested on a weekly basis until allergy season ends?

Defence Team members, you are encouraged to have an open and honest conversation about your particular situation with your manager and Chain of Command to determine what work arrangement will work best for you and your team moving forward. In accordance with the latest CDS/DM directive, Defence Team members showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be granted access to Defence establishments unless their place of residence is on the Defence Establishment, they occupy quarters there temporarily, or are present at the Defence Establishment to obtain medical services. DND/CAF will continue to follow the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)’s recommendations with regards to COVID-19 testing. CAF members and DND employees will adhere to COVID-19 testing requirements as laid out by the Government of Canada unless exempted by PHAC.

For CAF members, a COVID-19 test is administered when there are clinical indications that a test is required, such as when the member is displaying COVID-19 symptoms or has been identified as requiring testing through contact tracing. CAF members are encouraged to use the Public Health Agency of Canada online self-assessment tool and to follow local medical clinics’ advice if they develop symptoms or they think they need to be tested for COVID-19. CAF members can be provided advice for their specific situation by phone when contacting their respective clinic, based on the results of the self-assessment tool.

With the Defence Team COVID-19 vaccination policies requiring members to be fully vaccinated, will fully vaccinated personnel still have to wear masks in DND/CAF facilities?

According to the latest CDS/DM directive, decision on Public Health Measures (PHMs) will continue to be made at the local level. Despite the CAF and Government of Canada Vaccination policies in place, PHMs (as indicated by your local authority) must be strictly adhered to, including mask wearing, if required.

If you have more questions about the PHMs in force at your location, please raise the issue with your manager or local Chain of Command.

Seeking clarity on the mask policy for CAF members while in uniform outside of a defence establishments / work place? (I.e.: If I’m downtown in a public space such as a grocery store in uniform do I need to wear a NMM or can I follow the current provincial guidance ?

CAF members are expected to wear a mask while in uniform while on / in Defence Team property or while performing duties, such as while on parade in public. Otherwise, members are expected to follow provincial / territorial guidelines and mandates for masking.

What design guidelines exist for Non-medical masks for CAF members? (i.e. no corporate logos, etc.)

Non-medical masks must either be of a single colour or camouflage patterned, as well as 3-layered. Any logo must be unobtrusive and cannot have political connotations attached to it.

With Ontario set to drop mask mandates across the province, when will DND employees in Ottawa be able to opt-out of wearing masks in common areas of the workplace?

Although provinces are lifting restrictions regarding masking mandates, it does not mean the risk of COVID-19 transmission is eliminated. Masking is proven to mitigate the risk associated with COVID-19 transmission in environments where social distancing cannot be maintained.

In consultation with Senior Medical Authority (SMA), Defence Team members working in buildings within the NCR are instructed to maintain the status quo regarding the wearing of masks until further notice.

How can I report a violation of health safety measures in my unit?

In accordance with the Canada Labour Code, Part II, the individual must report any hazard to their immediate supervisor. The supervisor then has an obligation to investigate. If nothing is done, then the hazard complaint moves up the chain of command. If they need assistance, they can go to their local Workplace Health and Safety Committee or their Health and Safety Representative.

Where can I find the current PHM requirements for any given base/wing?

Current PHMs as outlined in the CDS/DM Directive on DND/CAF Operating and Reconstituting in a Persistent COVID-19 Environment remains extant.

Is there any metric in which the DND will be satisfied that masks are no longer required at the workplace? Is there a draw-down plan?

SJS has drafted amendments to the CDS/DM Directive on local masking procedures. These are being socialized with the National Union Management Consultation Committee and the National Health and Safety Policy Committee.

For some people, returning to work wearing a mask without acclimatization to that method of working will be uncomfortable for long durations. People who identify as disabled and have COPD or Asthma could find working with a mask on to be difficult. What's the plan to return those personnel to work?

Individuals who are returning to the workplace who require an accommodation with respect to masks should consult with their supervisor and labour relations advisor or CF Health Services group. A non-medical mask is only required when one cannot maintain the minimum 2 meter physical distancing.

We have an employee that tested positive and has now finished his quarantine. Is there something else that should be taken in consideration before he returns to work in the office?

Once their quarantine is complete, the employee may return to the workplace if they are feeling well and their condition has improved.

A member within my organization tested positive for COVID-19 today and was in the office yesterday. The member interacted with the dental team, members in the office and multiple pieces of equipment/doors, etc. What is the process to sanitize?

As per May 2022 guidance from the Public Service Occupational Health Program, it is not necessary to perform extensive deep cleaning of the worksite by a specialized cleaning crew when an on-site employee tests positive or has symptoms of COVID-19. For more information on cleaning processes, please consult the FHP Considerations for Resumption of Business in DND/CAF Facilities in the COVID-19 Context web page (available only via the DWAN).

I have a Defence Team member who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently self-isolating at home. When will this person be able to return to the office?

The medical recommendation as of April 6, 2022, per the COVID-19: Force Health Protection Recommendations (available only via the DWAN), is that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should isolate for seven days, and those who are not should isolate for 10 days.

If a member is asymptomatic or have all their symptoms dissipate and they are deemed essential for operational requirements, their supervisor should consult the Senior Medical Authority, Labour Relations, and local Workplace Health and Safety Committees, as applicable. Should they be cleared for return to the workplace, their supervisor should consider additional or more restrictive Public Health Measures to mitigate any residual risks.

With international mask requirements at a minimum or not existent, especially travelling via international airlines (the exception being Canadian air travel), why is the Defence Team still requiring their personnel to wear masks in the workplace/Defence Team establishments?

The Defence Team’s current approach to masking and other public health measures is in line with recent COVID-19 prevention guidance from Health Canada for the federal Public Service.

The decision to adopt any particular Public Health Measure, such as masking, is based on the Chain of Command balancing and accepting risk. Where indicated, maintaining masking posture makes it possible to relax other measures like distancing and occupancy restrictions while still reducing risk. As compared to previous summers during the pandemic where community spread declined, cases are continuing to rise in many locations this summer. Masking is one way to continue to reduce the risk without impacting operations.

Page details

Date modified: