Joint DM/CDS statement on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 10, 2020 - Defence Stories

We would like to provide the Defence Team with the latest information (link accessible only on the National Defence network) related to the rapidly evolving 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the steps we are taking to minimize the risk to Defence team members. In close collaboration with government partners, we have been monitoring, preparing for, and responding to the spread of COVID-19.

Many of you are preparing for March break travel. The risk to Canadian travelers abroad is low but increasing, and will vary depending on the destination and the travel hubs you pass through on the way to your destination. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in other countries. Please consult the destination page on for the latest travel advice. If you travel, PHAC asks that you monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing for 14 days after you arrive in Canada. If you have these symptoms, call the public health authority in your province or territory to inform them. They will provide advice on what you should do.

The primary authoritative source of information for all Canadians on COVID-19, including Government of Canada employees, is as well as the COVID-19 Information Line at 1-833-784-4397. Managers and employees should be referring daily to guidance on this site, which is updated regularly. For questions about COVID-19 in the workplace, managers and employees are encouraged to visit the GCintranet (link accessible only on the Government of Canada networks).

We also encourage all employees and managers to take advantage of the services of the Employee Assistance Program available to you and your family members.

Direction to CAF Members

  • Please refer to CANFORGEN 039/20 SJS 017/20 031919Z (NOVEL CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 UPDATE) (link accessible only on the National Defence network) for amplifying direction related to travel policies, Defence engagements and preventable measures in order to protect the force from COVID-19.

Direction and Recommendations to DND Employees

  • STAY UPDATED: Please consult the Government of Canada 2019 coronavirus Outbreak Update page for the most up to date information related to COVID-19.
  • UNDERSTAND LEAVE OPTIONS: DND offers various leave options that are available to civilian employees. Leave options include: ,annual, care of family, or leave with pay for other reasons. All leave options are subject to the provision each employee’s relative collective agreement.
    • Please note: As per OCHRO-TBS direction, Government of Canada employees who choose to travel to affected regions for personal reasons and against the advice of the Government of Canada’s Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel advice may not use the category leave with pay for other reasons. Instead, DND recommends that these employees extend their annual leave or use compensatory leave for the period of self-isolation and self-monitoring.
  • STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK: Employees who are ill should use sick leave, and feel safe to confide in management and self-isolate and self-monitor without financial penalty, as the Department supports appropriate leave for self-isolation and self-monitoring measures.
  • CONSULT TRAVEL ADVISORIES: It is strongly recommended to maintain situational awareness on Government of Canada Travel Health Notices. All civilian employees are also encouraged to complete the Notice of Intent to Travel form outlined in CANFORGEN 039/20 SJS 017/20 031919Z (link accessible only on the National Defence network).
  • CONSIDER YOUR RISK OF EXPOSURE: If you work at airports of entry receiving passengers from the affected areas, or if you deal with personnel working at diplomatic missions who may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19, refer to the Health Canada Public Service Occupational Health Program (PSOHP) Occupational Health Advisory: Novel Coronavirus annexes related to your work, for special procedures to follow.

If You Believe You Have Been Exposed

If you traveled to affected areas, had close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 or handled laboratory or biological materials known to contain COVID-19, you may be at risk.

  • For CAF members, if you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days of a potential exposure, you must identify yourself to the medical staff at your local military clinic as soon as possible.
  • For civilian employees, if you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days of a potential exposure, call your health care provider or local public health authority.

Health Canada recommends taking general precautions to reduce your risk of infection, such as washing your hands often with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into your arm or tissue, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

As this is an evolving situation, visit for the latest information or visit the Defence Team Intranet page (link accessible only on the National Defence network). You can also follow Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Twitter for up-to-date information. 

Jody Thomas
Deputy Minister

Gen Jonathan Vance
Chief of the Defence Staff


Government of Canada 2019 coronavirus Outbreak Update

Government of Canada Travel Notice

Government of Canada 2019 novel coronavirus Information Line: 1-833-784-4397

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