Key messages/Conversation points

As per the Joint DM/CDS Directive for the Resumption of Activities, Defence Team members must be communicated with individually to establish an understanding of the impacts and mitigations necessary of a return to work and to outline the expectations for their return, the mandatory training required of them, and the PHM that are in place and with which they will abide.

As Supervisors, be sure to have an open dialogue and frank conversations with your staff about how they’re feeling and their personal circumstances which may affect their work. Each individual will be dealing with a different reality and some may be impacted by (lack of) accessibility of social infrastructure e.g. the availability of day care, the reinstatement of the school year, the ability to leverage family care plans, public transportation, among others.

The following key messages can be used during team meetings/communications to discuss Business Resumption, and are being used in communication products that are shared across Defence:

Government of Canada messages

  • Public health authorities have signaled that physical distancing requirements will remain in place. Many will find themselves working from home for some time to come.
  • We will move cautiously as we consider when to increase access to worksites. Re-opening access to federal worksites will be gradual.
  • The health and safety of federal public servants is paramount. We will be guided by the decisions of public health authorities, including Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, and the direction of provinces and territories. Planning will be based on government-wide guidance and take into consideration the local public health situation and the priority of the work.
  • Organizations, working with their bargaining agents through workplace health and safety committees, will shape their specific plans based on these considerations.


  • Faced with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, DND/CAF are taking unprecedented measures to protect the health and well-being of its members, based on best practices recommended by Canadian health authorities and the Canadian Forces Surgeon General.
  • Adopting best practices is a matter of obligation for readiness, as the CAF and its members must be able to continue current operations, be ready for future operations and contingencies and for any unknown challenges they could face.
  • DND/CAF will maintain essential core and administration activities to proceed with on-going operations, while taking all precautionary measures to avoid any illness or additional exposure to DND employees and CAF members, which includes standing down non-essential activities and travel bans outside Canada.

Testing, ensuring staff respect measures, etc.

Key messages

  • Staff returning to the workplace will not be automatically tested for COVID-19. However, any Defence Team member who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is encouraged to get tested, following the advice of their provincial and territorial health authorities.
  • Should a staff member feel ill and be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, they are asked to inform their manager, go/stay home, and contact local public health authorities. This will be supported by management across the Defence Team.
  • Each supervisor, including myself, will be responsible for ensuring that staff are abiding by physical distancing requirements and PPE and PHM guidance within the workplace.

Alleviating fear, skepticism, and worry about return to workplace

Key messages

  • Defence Team leadership understands the importance of supporting personnel through this change. For staff experiencing fear, skepticism or worry about returning to the workplace or continuing remote work, be sure that resources are being made available.
  • Thank you to those who have completed the Defence Team COVID-19 Survey. While we continue to analyze the data in order to inform our actions in the Business Resumption Process, your concerns on the challenges affecting return to work, including your health and personal situations will be heard.
  • Please rest assured that no immediate cuts are anticipated as a result of COVID-19.

Reiterating measures in place for personal safety

Key messages

  • The health, safety and overall wellness of you and your families is our top priority and is taken very seriously.
  • Defence Team leadership has taken numerous precautions and implemented various measures to protect our personnel, while maintaining our readiness to assist the GC when requested to do so.
  • Given the evolving nature of this crisis, DND/CAF will continue to provide updated direction and guidance to its personnel with respect to Public Health Measures (PHMs) and on the usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Upon your return, you will notice that all Defence Establishments have been - or are being - marked with one-way pathways and staircases, and elevators only to be used by individuals with limited mobility.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at each entrance/exit and will be replenished when possible given the high demand for the product. More importantly, staff are encouraged to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds, as this is the most effective way to sanitize hands.
  • Direction on how cubicles can and should be occupied to maintain distancing has been received and you may notice some differences in how to access and use communal spaces. For example, you will see that washrooms, for the most part, will be single occupancy.
  • As a Defence Team member, you are encouraged to continue to talk to your supervisor if there is a periodic or ongoing requirement for you to work from home due to COVID-19 related reasons (i.e. child care, elder care, symptoms, etc.).

Management support

  • As your Manager/Supervisor, I, along with our management team, will be here to support you throughout this business resumption process. We acknowledge that this is a difficult, uncertain and challenging time, but assure you that you are not alone. Our Defence Team is agile, resilient and most importantly, we are in this together.


  • The whole Defence senior management team is with you every step of the way during business resumption. You are encouraged to leverage the mental and physical wellness resources that are available to you as a military or civilian member.  Refer to the Defence Team COVID-19 – Mental Health and Wellness.
  • Remember that you are not alone. Each of us has an important role to play and will get through this as one strong Defence Team.
  • There are several resources available to you as a Defence Team member. If you are having a difficult time coping, or simply want more information on what’s out there, I can provide direction or point you to for wellness resources.
  • Short-term enhancements to the Public Service Health Care Plan have also been made to further support 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.
  • The Government of Canada is steadfast in its ongoing commitment to supporting public servants and their mental health, including when public health measures are eased up and we return back to a new way of working.

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Ensuring workplace is safe for a physical return (e.g. COVID-19 testing, physical distancing, guidelines/requirements along with what actual changes to the building will take place)

  • [Require specific details of how your workplace is responding to:]
    • open seating protocol;
    • plexiglas at commissionaire stations;
    • sanitizer availability and ordering; 
    • reducing chairs in boardrooms for meetings;
    • kitchen protocols; and
    • marking floorspaces, among others.

Civilian only - Continued support amidst diminished social infrastructure (child care, leave 699, public transportation, etc.)

Key messages

  • I acknowledge that some of you continue to be faced with challenges to manage work life balance such as child or family care, or other medical reasons. I support you if you need to take 699 leave or want to enter into a different work arrangement. Let’s discuss and determine the best way forward.
  • The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) will continue to provide guidance around 699 leave. It remains in effect at this time and will be re-evaluated by TBS in late June. I will keep our team informed on any further changes as we receive them.
  • Broadly speaking, as child-care once again becomes safe and available, our general expectation is that those on “699 leave” will go back to working regular hours. That said, every situation is different, and some can be complicated. There are other options such as flexible work arrangements that we can consider as well. Let's discuss the best approach to ensure we meet your needs and that we meet our team goals.
  • I will be sharing additional details with our team in the coming weeks, and I expect that you may have many questions. As your manager, I will be your main point of contact for those questions and concerns. I hope that you will feel comfortable discussing any uncertainties you may have and know that I will support you through this. I encourage you to also consult the Frequently Asked Questions, Ask anything: COVID-19 submission box, and the many other resources available to you.

(Re)Onboarding (mandatory training and Defence O365)

  • As per the Joint DM/CDS Directive for Business Resumption of Activities, all personnel must have proper onboarding, whether virtual or otherwise. This should include re-onboarding for returning staff from remote work to the workplace.
  • To ensure all Defence Team members are returning with an adequate understanding of the workplace requirements, you will be required to complete onboarding training for Defence O365 as well as the Establishing Effective Virtual Teams (X175) course (see Annex H).

Business Resumption Narrative

  • The Defence Team continues to tailor its evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) response in close consultation and coordination with other Government of Canada (GC) departments and agencies, while simultaneously preparing for subsequent phases of the pandemic.
  • DND and CAF as well as many of our other GC counterparts have continued working through the initial phase of this crisis – and in some cases harder, and in a focused way in responding to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • During the initial response of COVID-19, various activities had to be temporarily suspended/deferred as they were no longer safe nor practical to do so under the circumstances or that the resources allocated to those activities were urgently needed elsewhere as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • As we transition into the next phase of the crisis, the Defence Team is preparing for the near-term resumption of a number of designated business activities across DND/CAF that were previously suspended/deferred. Specifically, a number of important activities related to training, recruitment and critical institutional support will resume on a limited basis when it has been deemed safe and appropriate to do so.
  • Resumption of these activities is in response to the priorities set by the GC in response to the crisis while supporting ongoing recovery efforts and continuing to deliver on the DND mandate and related commitments as outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged - Canada’s Defence Policy.
  • These activities will be conducted within the context of a persistent COVID-19+ environment for the foreseeable future as a treatment or a vaccine does not yet exist and our understanding of this disease and its strategic implications are still evolving.

Resumption of Business Activities

  • As the current situation continues to evolve, DND/CAF, in close coordination with other Government of Canada departments and agencies, is determining the best way forward to resume business activities for both military and civilian members. In the near term, a number of critical force generation activities related to training, recruitment, and administration will resume when it has been deemed safe and appropriate to proceed.
  • The Defence Team will resume these activities in a progressive, deliberate, and safe manner, in order to ensure the ongoing and future operational effectiveness of the CAF while protecting the health, safety and overall wellness of our personnel. The department will continue to maintain and support a sizable remote workforce where possible and pragmatic to do so and will ensure that those who are not working remotely from home have access to a safe working environment at DND/CAF establishments.
  • Defence O365 will provide a Protected A DND/CAF supported platform for the Defence Team to continue working and collaborating at this time.
  • As business resumes, Defence Team members will be required to observe additional safety precautions to limit the likelihood of infection. For example, an extended teleworking posture whenever possible, maintaining physical distancing, and wearing non-medical masks or PPE.
  • 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 if required.

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