2 May 2020: Message from the Wing Commander, COVID-19

Portrait - Col Moar

Photo: LS Erica Seymour, 4 Wing Imaging

2 May 2020

4 Wing Defence Team and families,

It has been a while since my last letter so I thought I would take a moment to provide you an update.  I expect that our military and civilian members have been in regular communication with their units and much of this information will not be new.  I would urge you all to keep up to date with the weekly CDS letter that is regularly sent on Friday afternoon.  It is an excellent source of information.

It has been a difficult couple of weeks for the CAF and in particular, the men and women based in Nova Scotia.  We are a small, tight-knit community in the CAF and we are all affected when a member or crew is tragically lost.  I have passed the condolences of all of us at 4 Wing to 12 Wing and the Commanding Officers of Captain Brenden MacDonald, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, and Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough.  There have been many questions with respect to online vigils and services that may be planned.  The Wing will do our best to pass on the details of those services to allow you to attend and pay your respects.

The COVID situation continues to evolve on a daily basis and it can be hard to keep up with the constant changes.  I truly appreciate the patience and understanding with which all of you have responded to this unprecedented and unreasonable situation.  I am cautiously optimistic that the recent easing of Provincial restrictions signals an eventual end to this pandemic.  I remind our members that we will be resuming operations in deliberate phases at a slow and safe pace that will not necessarily match the more rapid re-opening of the Provincial economy.  We’re still many months from resuming normal life, and I would ask everyone to continue adhering to the preventative measures which have helped keep our local numbers so low – physical distancing, use of protective masks, hand washing, and compliance with our local guidelines.

Operations – You will have noticed an increase in air traffic around Cold Lake during the last two weeks.  During the first 4 weeks of our COVID-19 response, 4 Wing restricted almost all flying with the objective of minimizing the number of personnel working physically at the base.  This extreme measure was taken to protect our people during a time of unknowns; we didn’t fully understand how quickly the virus might affect Cold Lake or the impact it might have on our personnel and operations.  But the Wing has now reached the point where we need to return to the air to ensure we can continue meeting our mandates to Canada.  With that, we are implementing the next phase of our COVID-19 operations plan by commencing a reduced flying program starting on 4 May.  To ensure we can do this safely, the Wing has implemented a number of preventative measures such as segregated work teams, local production and use of non-medical masks, and changes to work procedures to maximize sanitization and physical distancing.  With these measures, in concert with expanded testing and tracing capabilities, I am confident that we are now ready to increase the pace of flying operations without putting any additional risk on the health of our members.  We are cognisant that increasing flying operations may create child care issues for some families.  I’ve asked the Command Teams to accommodate our members’ child care needs to the maximum extent possible and help limit the use of local child care services to those situations which are unpreventable.  As a final point on operations, although we are increasing our flying to approximately 50% of our normal rate, my intent with respect to minimizing the number of personnel physically working at CFB Cold Lake has not changed.  With that intent it is still the responsibility of unit supervisors to determine who can work from home and who needs to be physically present.

Active Posting Season (APS) – The revised plan for APS 2020 has now been approved and I have been informed that posting messages will be issued in the coming week.  It is important that the chain of command remains fully informed and engaged on your posting.  It is common for career managers in Ottawa to interact directly with our members, so I would ask that if you receive information on your upcoming posting that you promptly share any new details with your chain of command.  I anticipate that the next two weeks will be administratively busy with postings and the Wing Command Teams are standing ready to respond to your issues.  There are also higher level policy issues that still need to be resolved including inter-Provincial travel restrictions and other similar challenges that might impact your move.  Again, not all problems have yet been solved and the situation continues to evolve.  That said, I see the resumption of posting messages as an important first step that gets us started.

In closing, I hope that everyone is finding ways to enjoy the warm weather and stay healthy.  I am incredibly proud of your response to this crisis, the results we have achieved, and the work that has been done to allow us to begin safely ramping up our operations again.

I look forward to seeing you all for our FB Live Honours and Awards town hall on 13 May at 1400 (2pm).

Colonel Dave Moar
Commander, 4 Wing Cold Lake