31 March 2020: Message from the Wing Commander, COVID-19

31 March 2020

Portrait - Col Moar

Photo: LS Erica Seymour, 4 Wing Imaging

Hello 4 Wing members and families,

This is a long one today! I hope this finds you in good health and that you’re managing to keep your spirits high. The spread of COVID-19 has not slowed down in the last few days and although the number of cases in the Lakeland region remains relatively low, we need to continue to take all preventative measures possible to flatten the curve. The Wing remains in close coordination with the City of Cold Lake, the Province, and Alberta Health Services to ensure that we remain aligned in our efforts to safeguard the health of our community. It is a constant challenge to stay ahead of the changing situation – we’ve done a good job so far and I intend to keep it that way! Communication remains a key priority for 4 Wing and with that, I have a few updates for you today.

1. Postings – since my last message to you and the Facebook Live event, we received a letter from the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a Canadian Forces General message (CANFORGEN) on postings, and initial direction from our headquarters. At this time, as confirmed by the CDS, House Hunting Trips (HHTs) have been further postponed to at least April 30, the Active Posting Season (APS) has been extended to December 31 to provide more flexibility, and all CAF services including the RCAF have been directed to re-evaluate the posting plan. I have included links below so that you can access the CDS letter and CANFORGEN. For our 4 Wing members, if you have already conducted an HHT and secured accommodations at your new location, your posting is considered “underway” and will continue under the modified guidance in the CANFORGEN. For those of you who have received a posting message, but have not conducted an HHT yet, I am asking you to pause your efforts, make no additional financial commitments, and wait for further direction. I have requested clarification for those of you who have listed your homes but have not yet sold (i.e. should you maintain your listing or remove it?). For those of you screening for OUTCAN or an isolated posting, please continue with your screening process for now. For more information I encourage everyone to read the CANFORGEN at the link below or access it through the CAF app.

Within 4 Wing we are implementing a tracking tool for all members who are planned to be posted this APS. All members can expect that their Commanding Officer or supervisor will be reaching out to you in the coming days to discuss your situation and options. Our current aim is to ensure that we account for and interact with all of our personnel affected by these changing circumstances. More to follow on that. As a final comment, I acknowledge that the promotion plan for this APS could be affected by the posting plan. At this point it is too early to predict the impact, but I raise it here so you know that we’re working on it.

2. Military assistance – yesterday the Government of Canada announced that the CAF would be made available to assist Canadians through this crisis. Given our long legacy of fighting fires, fighting floods, and helping in other times of need I don’t expect this announcement was a surprise to any of our members. Although the Wing does not have specific details on how we might contribute to this effort, we have completed an assessment of our capability with consideration to our primary NORAD mission, our potential responsibilities to the community, and the deployability/role of each of our members. I would ask that each family spend some time discussing your Family Care Plan, your home situation, and identify any limitations you may have in participating in a CAF domestic operation or deployed NORAD mission. Your chain of command will be reaching out to you soon for that feedback. I must stress, this is being done on my orders as part of a readiness check of our Wing, not in response to any known operations. So please help me avoid that rumour! That said, we’re a high readiness military Wing and must always be ready to respond.

3. Self-isolation measures – yesterday we received important clarification from Alberta Health Services (AHS) on their expectations of personnel who are in a period of self-isolation. In alignment with federal regulations and the Quarantine Act, those who are in self-isolation due to recent travel or close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case must now remain on their own property and are only permitted to go outdoors on their deck, back yard or balcony. Under no circumstances should they leave their property during the 14 days of self-isolation. If in Wing Accommodations, this means you do not leave your room. Previously, those under mandatory self-isolation were permitted to go for walks in their neighbourhood or parks but this is no longer the direction. As before, please let your supervisor know if you require additional support to ensure you are able to comply with these directives. I can’t over-state the importance of complying with these regulations. I have included an AHS link below for more information.

Please continue to engage us with your questions and keep on top of the news. Thanks to the 700 people who participated in the Facebook Live event last week. We are still processing all of the questions but will have those answered ASAP. As always, we are looking for ways to improve communication so please let me know if there is a better way to interact with you.

We’re getting there, but given the trajectory of this virus I expect things are going to get more difficult before they get better. Take some time to check in on each other and stay healthy. And keep supporting our local health care professionals, RCMP, firefighters, and other essential front-line workers who are taking personal risks every day to ensure the community stays strong. Thank you!

1) CANFORGEN on postings (DWAN only) – http://vcds.mil.ca/apps/canforgens/default-eng.asp?id=049-20&type=canforgen
2) CDS Letter 27 Mar – https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/maple-leaf/defence/2020/03/march-27-letter-from-cds-regarding-covid-19.html
3) New self-isolation regulations – https://www.alberta.ca/self-isolation.aspx

Colonel Dave Moar
Commander, 4 Wing Cold Lake