DND/CAF Risk Mitigation in the COVID-19 Environment

August 20, 2020 – Defence Stories

As business resumption continues across Defence, specific measures and protocol have been put in place to mitigate risks in a COVID-19 environment.

These measures have been implemented to protect DND/CAF members and their ability to conduct domestic and international operations, including support to the whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to recent guidance in the CDS/DM Directive– DND/CAF Risk Mitigation in the COVID-19 Environment, a holistic approach to protect the Defence Team must be employed to help preserve capabilities and operations. Read more: Reducing the COVID-19 risk to the Defence Team.

This Directive outlines clear direction to L1s and Commands on how to best implement and apply a number of pandemic risk reduction tools as part of a Layered Risk Mitigation Strategy (LRMS) in order to limit the transmission of COVID-19 as DND/CAF activities resume.

Steps outlined in the Layered Risk Mitigation Strategy are as follows:

Step 1: Application of Public Health Measures (PHM)

For most members of the Defence Team, thorough application of PHM will be sufficient and should be the default in most workspaces. These include: physical distancing, frequent hand washing, face covering, surface washing, and cough/sneeze etiquette. DND/CAF will apply this LRMS in addition to the continued implementation of PHM.

Step 2: Identify Defence Team Core Activity

In the event that further action needs to be taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, there are a number of risk mitigation strategies that can be implemented. To help identify which of these strategies should be used, DND/CAF activities are divided into three categories. The categories are as follows:

  1. Operational Activities including: domestic and international deployed operations, NORAD, Search and Rescue, CANSOFCOM Critical Capabilities, and Critical Command and Control Capabilities.
  2. Force Generation Activities including: specific force generation activities for domestic and international deployed operations, students, instructors, and key personnel at CAF training institutions.
  3. Regular and routine duties: all remaining DND employees and CAF members. Anomalies or situations outside of what is covered here should be raised through the Senior Medical Authority (SMA) to Canadian Forces Health Services Group.

Step 3: Identify layered risk mitigation strategy

Once the correct Defence Team Core Activity group has been identified, the next step is to identify the most appropriate Risk Mitigation Strategy, whether it is Quarantine, Operational Testing, or both. These decisions should be made in consultation with the Senior Medical Authority (SMA).

The application of these strategies (screening questionnaires, quarantine, operational testing, contact tracing, the sequestering of forces, etc.) will be guided by the Canadian Forces Health Services Group (CFHS) and directed by L1s where required.

Implementation of the LRMS for Defence Team members will vary as it is situation-dependent, and will be applied in several manners as outlined below:

Step 4: Conduct operational testing if required or indicated

If required, coordinate with CFHS to order and conduct operational testing. With the exception of MPC, ADM(S&T), and CANSOFCOM, L1s will not procure COVID-19 testing equipment or engage in contracting for testing services within Canada. No DND/CAF-initiated Contact Tracing or testing of civilians or foreign military will occur under this Directive without MND authority and no Contact Tracing will occur under this Directive with respect to civilians. For more information on DND/CAF contact tracing efforts, please visit: Contact tracing in the Canadian Armed Forces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Step 5: Maintain Force Readiness

To ensure that the LRMS is implemented across the Defence Team, all L1s are tasked with

This five-step Layered Risk Mitigation Strategy, combined with the individual efforts of every member of the Defence Team, will help contain the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining operational readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic. All Defence Team members are asked to continue strict adherence to Public Health Measures within DND/CAF facilities and to stay home if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms. If you have any questions regarding this process or Directive, please reach out to your local chain of command or supervisor.

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