National COVID-19 Update – Planning the way forward – May 8, 2020

Commissioner's broadcast sent May 8, 2020

It seems like forever, but only two months ago, we were still pretty much business as usual. In these past weeks, we have been swept up in a national and global pandemic response that has left no part of our organization untouched, and in the middle of it all, we faced one of the most devastating criminal acts in our collective memory.

Each and every one of you has been making an incredible effort to adapt to these extraordinary circumstances.

Those whose critical jobs requires them to be at work are adapting to the constant use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and incorporating new routines and protocols to ensure they are able to protect themselves and others from the virus hazard while keeping Canadians safe.

We don't have to go to our workplace to keep the RCMP wheels rolling. Even from home, you are ensuring the organization continues to function and our front line is supported. You have also contributed to Canada's overall response by looking after family and keeping up with the education of our children.

But as the weeks roll by, the question is growing in our minds: so when do we all come back? Clearly, this isn't a matter of coming back to work, because we are working – and working well. It's about coming back to our workplaces.

When are we coming back to the workplace?

The short answer is: "when we can do it safely." You are the strength and foundation of this organization, so your health and safety is the greatest driving factor in our planning. The last thing we want to do is bring people back only to have them get sick.

For some, it may be a long time before you go back to your work site. We have people who are caring for family members who are more vulnerable, or whose own health may be more at risk. We don't know when our children will be able to return to schools and day cares. Some may not have access to public transit for the foreseeable future.

We have also embraced telework as never before and found that it is actually a good option for many employees. Virtual teams – like our National COVID-19 Response group – are showing us that we don't always have to be in one place together to be effective.

Another of these virtual working groups, with representatives from all of our business lines and from our Divisions, is working on a plan for the way forward, in coordination with the National COVID-19 Response team, the National Operations Centre (NOC) and our Division Emergency Operations Centres (DEOCS). They are bringing regular updates and providing advice to the Senior Executive Committee and the Senior Management Team, which includes our divisional Commanding Officers.

We will take our cue to start from our federal, provincial and territorial health authorities, and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), who are monitoring the COVID-19 situation very closely. When the conditions show that the risk is within what we can manage, and we have all the appropriate measures in place, based on medical advice, we can start our return to the workplace.

How will this all roll out?

This week, we approved a plan to resume the training of cadets at Depot beginning in mid-June. With a measured, cautious approach and a focus on staff and cadet safety, the Depot plan is a good illustration of how we will approach our return to the workplace:

When we do begin to bring more people back into our buildings, it will be a slow, cautious process, starting with functions where it is most critical to have people on site. Case in point, Depot will be resuming with only two troops of cadets – less than 10% of their normal capacity. Likewise, we expect that in the early stages, our building occupancy will be very low.
In stages
A staggered approach will give us time at each stage to ensure we have appropriate measures and capacity in place to maintain health and safety, and that we are ready for the next increase in building population. We are determining, based on medical input, what is required to maintain safe conditions in the workplace, and when you do return to work, it will be equipped to meet those guidelines.
Allowing for differences
Each province and territory has unique circumstances and different plans to relax their restrictions. This may affect timing, occupancy, or what services are available to employees. We need to allow for these differences, while staying consistent in our standards and approach so that we can protect all of our employees. At every step of the process, we will continue to be guided by advice from federal, provincial/territorial and RCMP health professionals, TBS and engagement with labour representatives on health and safety and other matters.

When will we get back to normal?

We must all get used to the idea that our "normal" has changed. We don't know yet what it will look like, but post-COVID, we will need to redefine the way we work.

Even though the COVID experience has been a huge challenge, it has also created some exciting opportunities. It has driven us to find new flexibility and has given us confidence that we are able to adapt quickly, and on a massive scale. It has opened our eyes to new ways of doing business, and encouraged us to be problem-solvers.

It has allowed us to solidify our relationships with the various government agencies, partners, stakeholders and unions, especially with our new regular member union, the National Police Federation.

Over the coming months, we will all work together to define a new 'normal' that will combine the best of our strengths as an organization and capitalize on the gains we've made.

Moving forward – together

I can't be more proud of our organization and all of you who are its heart and soul. I am confident that you will continue to approach this challenge with all the dedication, innovation and professionalism you have always shown, and that when we find our "new normal" it will be a stronger, more capable and more resilient RCMP than ever.

In the meantime, be patient, be flexible, and stay focused on the contribution you are making to our core mandate of serving our communities and keeping Canadians safe.

Stay well!!!

Brenda Lucki

Stay informed

Please review the national COVID-19 Infoweb site – we are adding new information every day. I urge managers to review these sources daily and ensure that you share them with your teams.

For those without access to the Infoweb or ROSS e-mail (including families):

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