As supervisors, be sure to have an open dialogue and frank conversations with your teams about how they’re feeling and their personal circumstances which may affect their work. Each individual will be dealing with a different reality. The reopening of facilities will be a welcome change for some and create stress or anxiety for others. Despite the decrease in restrictions across the country, some members may continue to be impacted by personal or family health implications, challenging care giver responsibilities, and (lack of) accessibility to social infrastructure e.g. the availability of daycare and summer camps, the ability to leverage family care plans, public transportation, among others.
The following key messages can be leveraged during team meetings and in communication products as it includes consistent and relevant language across DND/CAF:
- Globally, case numbers remain high as a result of unequal access to the limited worldwide vaccine supply, the higher transmissibility of variants of concern (VOCs), and lapses and/or early relaxation of public health measures (PHMs).
- After a particularly gruelling third wave in Canada that required CAF to support some regional health systems, transmission rates across the country have dropped to levels not seen since October 2020.
- The cadence of the domestic vaccine roll-out has intensified, protecting more Canadians and slowing the spread of mutated VOCs.
- During the summer of 2021, it is expected that the status of fully-vaccinated people within the general population across Canada will be unequal, and VOCs will continue to circulate with waves in infection rates Accordingly, changes in PHMs and restrictions will occur more slowly in some jurisdictions than in others.
- The documents guiding decisions during this time are as follows, and you are encouraged to read more about them:
- CDS/DM Directive on CAF/DND Reopening Strategy (Summer 2021 Posture)
- L1 Business Resumption Activities
- Location Business Resumption Activities
- ADM(HR-CIV) Directive on Managing a Modern, Flexible, and Varied Civilian Workforce
- CDS/DM Directive on CAF/DND Reopening Strategy (Summer 2021 Posture)
General Business Resumption
- The recent increase in Canada’s vaccination campaign, thanks in part by the tireless work of Defence Team members, is cause for optimism and hope. DND/CAF is now in a position to gradually increase presence in the workplace, resume additional activities, lower travel restrictions and adjust certain PHMs, while ensuring that the safety of the Defence Team and Canadians remains our priority.
- Acknowledging that the COVID-19 situation will vary by region, L1 leaders will resume and restrict activities based on Senior Medical Advisor (SMA) and functional authority advice, appropriate consultation with Regional Authorities (RAs), and mitigation measures are effectively communicated.
- There may be significant variations in attitudes towards the future of the workplace. Some members will wish to remain working from home permanently on a full-time basis, and some may wish to return to the workplace, either part-time or full-time, faster than what is outlined.
- Leadership must remain aware of and responsive to individual Defence Team members’ personal challenges and limitations resulting from the pandemic. This will allow us to position the Defence Team for a more hybrid approach to workplace arrangements in the future.
- Supervisors must continue to support Defence Team members’ personal circumstances by, wherever possible, remaining flexible on adapting work arrangements, dependent on the team’s type of work and the individual’s work description.
- The health and safety of Defence Team members continues to be our top priority on an individual and collective level. The health status of Defence Team personnel and their dependents, as well as childcare requirements, access to public transport, and the availability of social and community services will be carefully considered. Similarly, we will continue to monitor public health conditions at a community level, and take quick action to adjust our posture if required.
- This is a moment of opportunity. The pandemic has demonstrated that with innovation and technology, there is much that can be accomplished through a dispersed and remote workforce; however, not all tasks can be successfully accomplished this way.
- Managers and supervisors will need to take into consideration many factors in planning the transition of their workforce to post-pandemic realities, including:
- the composition of the workforce;
- local PHMs;
- the requirement for in-person presence;
- IM/IT requirements for the different post-pandemic work realities
- the fit of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and non-medical masks (NMMs) to account for a variety of sizes;
- infrastructure changes that may impact gender inclusivity and disabled accessibility;
- mental health challenges that require increased support services and flexibility by leaders and managers; and
- prevention of harassment related to COVID-19.
- National and/or local union consultation will need to occur a minimum of 14 days prior to the return of members of the civilian workforce to the workplace.
- GBA+ analysis as it relates to COVID-19 impacts on Canadians, and in particular, Defence Team members, must be completed to inform the gradual resumption of activities and remote work arrangements. GBA+ and preliminary lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis will also inform the identification of potential new measures or policies to mitigate medium to longer term risks/negative impacts on operations and the careers of particular groups in DND/CAF
Health & Safety Measures
- Not all Defence Team members will have received a vaccine and many members will not have received both doses of a vaccine, either by choice or due to vaccine availability. Additionally, variants of concern may continue to present a threat to Force protection. As such, Public Health Measures will continue to be enforced for the foreseeable future in DND/CAF facilities, including:
- Non-medical mask use
- Spaced out work spaces
- Marked hallways, elevators, and stairwells
- Hand sanitizer stations
- Rapid Antigen Detection Tests in certain DND/CAF facilities
- If you are conducting business in the workplace, adequate guidance and direction will be provided to you regarding Public Health Measures and Protective Personal Equipment.
- To add yet another layer to force protection, DND/CAF will adopt a Rapid Antigen Detection Testing program in certain DND/CAF locations to help identify asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 to try and minimize the potential for Defence Team members in high risk occupations / high risk workplaces. The P rogram will consist of voluntary screening in support of a Layered Risk Mitigation Strategy for Defence Team members at higher risk of infections or where infections can have a disproportionate impact on the Defence Team and/or those who may be supported by Defence Team members and operations.
- DND/CAF asks their personnel to voluntarily disclose their potential exposure to COVID-19. Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms or comes into contact with someone infected with the virus are asked to seek medical care/advice promptly and stay home.
- The best mitigation and preventive measures, emphasized by the Surgeon General, Canadian Forces Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) include:
- Following public health measures
- Wearing a mask when out in public
- Washing hands thoroughly and often with soapy water and/or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Practicing cough and sneeze etiquette
- Staying home when symptomatic
- Respecting physical distancing at work, at home, and in the community
- Continuing to follow Public Health Measures even as vaccine campaigns roll out
- You are still required to wear a non-medical mask (NMM) when moving from one location to another when inside DND/CAF facilities. Masks may be removed once you reach your workstation, as long as you are able to maintain physical distancing. For CAF members, NMMs remain part of the uniform until public health advice indicates otherwise.
- Personal masks are permitted, however, they should:
- be made of at least 3 layers
- two layers should be tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen
- the third (middle) layer should be a filter-type fabric, such as non-woven polypropylene fabric
- be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping
- allow for easy breathing
- fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
- be comfortable and not require frequent adjustments
- be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
- maintain its shape after washing and drying
- For more information on Non-medical masks and face coverings, visit the Non-medical masks and face coverings web page.
- To help keep yourself and others safe, the Government of Canada is encouraging all Canadians to download the COVID Alert App.
- Each supervisor will be responsible for ensuring that employees are abiding by physical distancing requirements and PPE and PHM guidance within the workplace.
- Should a CAF member feel ill and be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should seek a test at a local clinic/hospital or health services centre if on a military base. They are then expected to follow instructions from medical personnel. 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.
- All personnel returning to the workplace will need to take a course containing important information on COVID-19. If you haven’t already, please register for the COVID-19 Awareness Course available on the Defence Learning Network (DLN). To access the DLN please visit the appropriate site based on your connection:
A one-stop-information webpage has been created to provide the latest guidance and updates for all Defence Team members regarding vaccines and the CAF vaccination rollout.
Defence Team (public service employees and CAF members)
- Health Canada approved vaccines are a safe and effective way to help protect Canadians against COVID-19 and from developing related complications associated with the virus.
- All L1s must continue to enable the Defence Team to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine if they so choose. Maximum uptake of the vaccine is one of the most important PHMs available and the surest route to decreased restrictions in the workplace.
- In order to reduce the strain on provincial/territorial health systems and to give immunization programs a chance to work, everyone must continue to follow public health measures including social distancing, physical distancing, washing hands frequently and wearing a mask, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not.
Specific to public service employees
- Public service employees are encouraged to receive their COVID-19 vaccination through their provincial or territorial health care provider.
- Public service employees who secure an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine during the work day should use leave code 698, medical and dental appointments.
Specific to CAF members
- Non-eligible CAF members are encouraged to receive their COVID-19 vaccination through their provincial or territorial health care provider.
- CAF COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary. Whether or not vaccination will be made a requirement for an operation or a position is a decision to be made by CAF leadership, in consultation with their medical and legal advisors. Verification of COVID-19 vaccination may be a requirement for CAF members to operate in high-risk environments, such as those with vulnerable populations, or in regions with mandated COVID-19 immunization requirements.
Sustaining Activities Through the Summer
Workplace Flexibility, Leave, and Working Arrangements
- DND/CAF take the safety of members and their families seriously. Reach out to your supervisor or Chain of Command to have important discussions about your situation and needs.
- In an effort to continue effective management of a hybrid workforce in a post pandemic environment, CAF members and DND employees with a flexible or hybrid work arrangement must submit a new or revised flexible work arrangement for approval by their supervisor or manager.
- DND/CAF will continue to evaluate lessons learned over the pandemic so that the Defence Team can transition to a post-pandemic workplace more resilient than we were before.
- Remote work, virtual work, hybrid models, and other flexible work arrangements will continue to play a larger role than in the pre-pandemic context.
- However, given the mandate of the DefenceT eam, some tasks must be performed on-site to sustain operational excellence and support for the Defence Team. Additionally, team cohesion and productivity can benefit greatly from in-person collaboration. Therefore, the Defence Team must balance flexibility for employees with the manager’s right to manage and sustain operational excellence in a fair and equitable way.
- We will deliberately and incrementally increase our work capacity by safely resuming activities. Attention to detail in establishing and adhering to health force protection measures is paramount.
- We are taking a very personalized and flexible approach with our people while balancing the need to ensure operational output. We will engage with each of you individually to assess your respective availability to continue to work, and any factors that may impact this. Careful consideration will be given to members who have a greater likelihood of severe illness if COVID-19 is contracted or who will experience unique challenges at home if some form of accommodation is not granted. Individual situations and limitations will be supported where possible.
- As child-care once again becomes safe and available, our general expectation is that those who can, will go back to working regular hours whether this be remotely or within your workplace. That said, every situation is different, and some can be complicated.
- We must continue to align ourselves with the enduring principles of CAF leadership: know your people and promote their welfare.
- On a situational basis, compassionate leave may be approved to provide you with sufficient time away from your place of duty when such absence is appropriate as a result of urgent and exceptional personal reasons, including but not limited to:
- If you are subjected to a period of observation, without being symptomatic, compassionate leave can be granted in cases where working remotely from home or the observation location is not possible;
- If you live with/care for a member of the vulnerable population or you are experiencing child care challenges.
- If you have been diagnosed with or have a presumptive case of COVID-19 you will be granted sick leave by your health care provider.
- If any of these apply to you, we can talk about the available options. You can also always contact the Administrative Response Centre (ARC) if you need clarity.
Public Service Employees
- The vast majority of employees are working full- time, either remotely or onsite, making use of flexible or alternate work arrangements or leave options, when needed, and following occupational health measures that have been implemented in accordance with public health guidance.
- The ADM(HR-Civ) Directive to Managers on Managing a modern, flexible and varied civilian workforce (Summer 2021) provides updated direction to managers on supporting the transition to a more flexible workforce through COVID-19 and beyond.
- L1s and managers must determine the optimal public service workforce alignment between on-site, virtual and hybrid work models in a fair and equitable manner that supports the physical and psychological health and safety of public service employees while sustaining operational excellence for the Defence Team.
- The 2021 Summer Guidance for Defence Public Service Employees & Managers complements the DM/CDS Summer 2021 Directive and provides employees and managers with information and resources required for navigating the current posture. The Guidance will be updated as new information becomes available and as the pandemic situation evolves. The Guidance includes:
- Information on virtual and hybrid working arrangements and how employees and managers can leverage the Civilian Flexible Work Program (FWP) to sustain operational excellence while supporting employee circumstances as we transition;
- Guidance for working on-site and information on Occupational Health and Safety considerations, vaccinations, and the DND/CAF COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Detection Testing (RADT) pilot program;
- Information for groups faced with specific challenges, such as caregivers;
- Guides for public service employees and managers navigating the current posture; and
- Total health and well-being resources to support the physical and psychological health and safety of the public service community.
- Clarified guidance around the use of Code 699 was issued on November 9, 2020. The Update: “Other Leave with Pay” Code 699 article emphasizes that this leave should be granted on a case-by-case basis, and only after remote or alternate work, or flexible work hours have been considered, and generally only after other relevant paid leave has first been used by the employee. We can discuss the best approach to ensure we meet both yours and our team goals. More detailed information can be found on the Employee Illness and Leave page.
- We are all expected to continue to adopt a good faith approach in using alternative leave options, keeping in mind the important role we play in providing services to the Defence Team. Flexible working arrangements continue to be a reasonable alternative to taking leave in many circumstances.
- We all play a critical role in maintaining the workflow during these times. The Civilian Flexible Work Program continues to help employees and managers work together toward mutually beneficial solutions. It applies to all DND employees and allows managers – including military managers of employees – when feasible, to authorize employees to alter the following:
- work schedule;
- number of hours they work; or
- location in which they work.
- Public Service employees are encouraged to take their leave over the summer, in accordance with their annual allotment of leave.
Support for Telework
- To ensure all Defence Team members have an adequate understanding of workplace requirements, you should have/will need to complete onboarding training for Defence 365 as well as the Establishing Effective Virtual Teams (X175) course through the Canada School of Public Service GCCampus web site.
- D 365 is a Protected A platform permanently available to all Defence Team members and complements the existing enterprise network’s VPN (T-DVPNI). Available on both the DWAN and personal devices, D 365 enables remote work.
- If you require equipment to support your remote work, you must first use existing processes to acquire what you need from your office space. If you require additional IT equipment, you should then use existing DND inventory.
- To qualify for ergonomic support equipment from DND at home, specific criteria must be met, reviewed and approved by your supervisor. More information can be found here.
- Although many Defence Team members have retrieved office equipment and supplies as recommended, some have had to purchase specific items to ensure that work duties can continue to be performed effectively while working remotely. For more information including eligibility and the reimbursement claim process, consult the Remote Work Reimbursement Support Message.
Mental Health and Wellness
- The mental health strain on the Defence Team and our families caused by spending over a year living through a global pandemic, cannot be under-estimated. DND/CAF must remain vigilant for signs of mental stress within Defence Team members and be supportive of those who are exhibiting signs of such stresses.
- You are encouraged to leverage the mental and physical wellness resources that are available to you as a CAF/DND member. Please visit the Defence Team COVID-19 – Mental Health and Wellness page for more information on the resources available to you:
- CAF Member Assistance Program (CFMAP) or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 1-800-268-7708
- LifeSpeak – online health and wellness platform
- CAF Medical Clinic nearest you – psychosocial services and mental health program
- Military Family Resource Centres
- Family Information Line 1-800-866-4546
- Wing or Base Chaplain
- In the event of a mental health crisis, or urgent or life-threatening situation – call 911
- Short-term enhancements to the Public Service Health Care Plan have also been made to further support public service employees at this time. The requirement to have a prescription for psychological services is temporarily suspended, and the scope of qualifying mental health professionals expanded, until non-critical business is authorized to resume or as indicated otherwise.
- For more information on the benefits and services that apply to you, please visit the link below. If you have any additional questions, feel free to speak with me or someone within your Chain of Command.
- The Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace offers a dedicated online hub on COVID-19 and mental health for public servants, providing timely, curated resources, services and supports. It includes tips and tools on how to take care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and where to get more help if needed.
- Our Defence Team is agile, resilient and most importantly, we are in this together. We encourage everyone to have an open dialogue and for you to be honest about any fears you may have. Be sure to leverage the mental and physical wellness resources that are available to you as a military member or public service employee.
- Please refer to the CDS/DM Directive on DND/CAF Reopening Strategy (Summer 2021 Posture) for a full list of travel restrictions, approval authorities, quarantine leave requirements, considerations, and references.
Specific to public service employees
- Work-related international and domestic travel may be approved through the pre COVID-19 pandemic process used in DND/CAF provided that the starting, destination and any countries transited do not restrict such travel). P/T, regional, municipal and host nation restrictions will be adhered to.
Specific to CAF members
- Domestic duty-related travel may be approved through the pre COVID-19 pandemic process used in DND/CAF provided that the starting, destination and any countries transited do not restrict such travel. P/T, regional, municipal and host nation restrictions will be adhered to.
- Domestic Travel for Compassionate Reasons will continue to be applied as per QR&O 16.17. Mandatory self-isolation or quarantine leave will be granted in accordance with the Canadian Forces Leave Policy Manual 5.17 Special Leave ((COVID-19) Mandatory Quarantine) to account for the time in quarantine.
- International and Domestic House Hunting Trips (HHTs) / Destination Inspection Trips (DITs) are permitted only to those destinations where there are no quarantine requirements at destination. However, a member may proceed on an HHT/DIT unaccompanied if there is an exemption for travel in place that permits a military member travelling for the performance of military duties not to quarantine on arrival.
- Non-duty-related domestic and international travel can be approved through the pre-pandemic process used in DND/CAF. Unless stated otherwise at CANFORGENS CANFORGEN 152/20 or CANFORGEN 153/20, all periods of self-isolation or quarantine required by local public health authorities at the travel destination, and at any points in between, must be covered by annual leave. If required to self-isolate or quarantine upon return to place of residence, chains of command will be responsible for managing whether remote work is feasible for the isolation period and, if not, annual leave will be required for the isolation period (unless the member is granted sick leave).
- International duty-related travel may be approved through the pre COVID-19 pandemic process used in DND/CAF provided that the starting, destination and any countries transited do not restrict such travel. P/T, regional, municipal and host nation restrictions will be adhered to.
- International Travel for Compassionate Reasons will continue to be applied as per QR&O 16.17.
- HLTAs. HLTAs can be approved in accordance with direction to be promulgated by CJOC, CANSOFCOM and the VCDS in accordance with Military Foreign Service Instruction 10.21.
Questions and Concerns
- Defence Team members have the right to have concerns and ask questions during the Business Resumption Period. If your question has not already been answered on the FAQs page, be sure to reach out to your supervisor who is equipped to guide and support you. If that is not an option, you can submit your question through the Ask Anything: COVID-19 submission box.
- If you have HR related questions, please contact HR Connect HR at 1-833-RHR-MDND (1-833-747-6363) or download the HR Go RH App. They can help answer your questions and or direct you to the right place.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
- Date modified: