Business Resumption: Your Royal Canadian Navy is Ready to Resume Activities

COVID-19 / June 2, 2020

See transcript below.

The following is a video transcript of Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Vice-Admiral Art McDonald describing the RCN’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and how the RCN will be implementing a gradual and phased return to work for both military and civilian staff.

Hi Shipmates!

Can you believe it’s been 10 weeks since the Chief ordered the pandemic responses we’ve been taking?

Thank you & BZ to the great number of you – military and civilians alike – who performed duty at home, at your usual workplace, at a new workplace, at sea and/or on a LASER tasking during the last 2.5 months! You all shined in unprecedented times.

Today, there’s few still actively working those tasks. Most have returned home - tasked to stay ready!

Whether this disposition is new to you or something you’ve been enduring for a while, I want to thank you all for following the directions given to you to self-isolate and minimize your movements to ensure our Navy remains Ready to Help, Ready to Lead, Ready to Fight in our response against COVID-19 . Your efforts have been instrumental to our success to date and to keeping you healthy and safe – which, you know, remains a top priority.

As you know, after weeks of a quite restrictive posture, across Canada measures are beginning to be relaxed and work, including some on-premises work, is resuming.

So today, I want to make sure that you know that the RCN will begin to do this too - very deliberately and incrementally over the coming weeks. And just as provinces and regions have been impacted differently by COVID-19 and have recovered at different paces, the re-opening of our institutions will be asymmetric across the department and indeed across the Navy.

Our recovery patterns will vary from coast to coast, between units, and, indeed, by workspaces - it will obviously be different between industrial and cubicle work. 

And obviously, in the latent COVID-19 environment that persists, everyone will not be asked to return to work all at once. So stay home unless you are called! Further, when you are called and you do return to work, remember that our workplace dynamics and social interactions will not revert to pre-COVID-19 practices.

To help alleviate any anxieties you may have as you prepare to come back in, you should expect that before your phased return to work, each and every one of you will be engaged individually by your chain of command to talk about the timing and conditions of your return. Together we’ll determine what issues and concerns you have and what support may be required for you and your family in order to make your return to your particular workspace a successful transition for you and for us. Be sure to tell us how you’re feeling and what concerns you have that might preclude you from getting back to work. If you’re having trouble arranging childcare, dependent care, safe and reliable transportation, anything – or even if you are just struggling to really accept that you can return to work safely – we want to know. We only want you to be brought back in when we both agree that you can do it with confidence, so I know that you supervisors and leadership team are standing-by to help you or to agree to leave you as you are for now. Can’t emphasize this enough – for now, you’re in the driver’s seat! 

That said, having been personally involved in the development of our BRP over the past weeks, I can tell you that I have great confidence that we can get you back to work safely! To continue to keep you and to keep each other safe and healthy, a phased approach to returning to work will be implemented across the DND/CAF and we’ll be respecting the Public Health Measures (PHM) that will already be quite familiar to you all.

In order to continue to foster physical distancing, for example, We’ll be deliberately controlling the number of people at work on any given day. Further, we’ll carefully plan 

cubicle, desk and work space assignments as well as introducing managed traffic flow and directional control in passageways and staircases.

Likewise, we’ll insist on stringent cleaning routines and remind everyone of proper personal hygiene and hand washing techniques.

Hand sanitizer stations will be everywhere

And, re-usable, washable non-medical masks (NMM) will be issued pursuant to joint CDS/DM guidance that conforms with public health standards

And to be clear, you won’t be asked to return to work until your supervisors have ensured that these stores are available to you!

Of course, the implementation of PHMs at your work place will reflect the unique realities of our different work environments – be it on board ships and submarines – at sea or alongside, on bases, at maintenance facilities, or in offices ashore.

And remember too – YOU can stay healthy and help prevent the spread of infection by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick; and
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve and not in your hands, and also always immediately washing your hands after, and….
  • And always respecting physical distancing requirements

Beyond that, as you return to the work place, you’ll also be expected

  • To Follow directional arrows and other routing signage as you navigate the workplace
  • To use automatic door openers if available and in the direction of travel, using your elbows to press them as opposed to using your hands to pull the door handles
  • To remove any non-essentials from your workspace to facilitate cleaning
  • To Maintain a daily log to of your interactions with others in the workplace as well as the floors and areas you have visited or worked in. This will facilitate contact tracing in the unlikely event of an outbreak
  • And, perhaps most importantly, to always bring any concerns immediately and directly to your supervisor or manager. WE are in this together!

To wrap up, shipmates: Let me reiterate that the RCN is about to begin getting back to work in a very deliberate, incremental and asymmetric way. As we do, we’ll make sure that it’s safe for you. In addition to physical distancing, hand-washing, non-medical masks & a host of other protocols – our success in getting back to business is going to depend AS ALWAYS on leadership, communications and YOU! While I know there’s plenty of the first two, in regards to you – remember that you’re currently in the driver’s seat. Be sure to have a frank conversation about your ability and comfort-level when your supervisor calls to discuss when exactly you’ll be asked to come back aboard!

We’ve some great times ahead together again, shipmates!   

See you soon! & Haven’t you been waiting to say that?!

Meanwhile, stay healthy, safe, ready! Stay salty!