Canadian Coast Guard
New DFO and Coast Guard Arctic regions – reconciliation mandate
- A key priority for my Department is our Reconciliation mandate. As part of these efforts, we created stand-alone DFO and Coast Guard Arctic Regions in 2018 and in partnership with Inuit, First Nations and Métis governments and organizations we are identifying priorities to better align our programs and services and to advance Reconciliation.
- As part of our Departmental Reconciliation strategy, and in collaboration with Inuit, First Nations and Métis partners, we are taking a distinctions based approach to enhancing our program and service delivery. My Department participates in the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee (ICPC) and works with other federal departments to advance implementation of the Government of Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework.
- My Department is taking concrete action to increase Inuit, First Nations and Métis representation in Coast Guard and DFO, including the hiring of Inuit Community Engagement Coordinators across the Arctic and developing a targeted Indigenous and Northern HR strategy. We are also collaborating with Indigenous partners on the development of an Arctic Youth Council to increase recruitment and interest of Inuit, First Nations and Métis youth in employment with DFO and Coast Guard.
- In addition, my Department is collaborating with Inuit, First Nations and Métis partners to fund community initiatives that increase local capacity and advance marine safety priorities.
- The principle of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit or incorporating Indigenous knowledge is fundamental to our new Arctic Science Strategy and supporting the identification of priorities and the boundary of the Arctic Regions.
- My Department continues to build its partnerships with Inuit, First Nations and Métis governments and organizations to ensure appropriate re-alignment of our programs and services to better serve communities, provide new opportunities to engage and participate in decision making, and to increase representation of Indigenous peoples in DFO and Coast Guard.
Since 2018, DFO and Coast Guard have conducted extensive engagements with Inuit, First Nations and Metis and northern partners across the Arctic. We have heard that we need to increase capacity, service delivery and presence of DFO and Coast Guard programs and services in the north, include Indigenous knowledge in decision-making, remove employment barriers and create job opportunities in northern communities, co-develop climate change adaptation strategies, increase infrastructure development, and that policy-making needs to be led from the north by northerners.
Continued engagement with partners will further advance these priorities in the Arctic. Ongoing transition of program delivery from the south to the north, development of a departmental northern human resources strategy, and recruitment of northerners into DFO and Coast Guard are key priorities.
In 2020-21, our priority is to continue to work with partners on establishing more permanent governance and developing solutions to advance priorities and include Inuit, First Nation and Metis organizations and government in the decision making in the DFO and Coast Guard Arctic Regions.
The ongoing pandemic will continue to present operational challenges for program and service delivery in the Arctic. We will continue to engage partners and share information and work together on innovative ways to maintain the delivery of programs and services during the pandemic, and ensure the health and safety of communities in the Arctic.
Five Indigenous Community Engagement Coordinators have been hired in local communities across the Arctic so far to act as a liaison between the Department and communities in the north as part of a pilot project. These Community Engagement Coordinators will support capacity building and collaboration, allowing DFO and Coast Guard to better understand the priorities and capacity within the Arctic region and enhance the delivery of Arctic programs.
Key Arctic programs and services – DFO
Fisheries management, Conservation and Protection, science, Marine Planning and Conservation, Arctic Operations, Small Craft Harbours, Arctic and Aquatic Research Division, Science, Canadian Hydrographic Service, Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program
Key Arctic programs and services – Coast Guard
Search and rescue, environmental response, vessels of concern, marine navigation, aids to navigation, icebreaking, safe and accessible waterways, marine communications and traffic services and integrated technical services
Environmental response - Cormorant
- The Cormorant was assessed as a threat of pollution and the Coast Guard is taking action to remediate this threat.
- On March 6, 2020, the Coast Guard issued a public notice indicating the intention to address the threat of pollution posed by the vessel.
- Following a Request for Proposals to remediate and remove the Cormorant, a contract was awarded and work has commenced on this operation.
- The operational plan is underway in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia to secure the vessel and prepare a tow plan. The next phase will include towing the vessel to Sheet Harbour for removal from the marine environment.
- In 2015, considering the threat posed by the vessel, Coast Guard took action to refloat and stabilize the M/V Cormorant. Since then, Coast Guard did not have care or custody of the vessel.
- A technical assessment of the ship was completed in late 2019, concluding that the vessel posed a grave and immediate threat of pollution.
- On March 6, 2020, the Coast Guard issued a public notice indicating the Minister’s and Coast Guard’s intention to address the threat of pollution posed by the vessel. The notice directed anyone with liens or other interests in the vessel, or questions to contact the Coast Guard’s Environmental Response Unit.
- A tender notice was publicly posted on June 30, 2020 to address the vessel, including removal of bulk pollutants; create a tow plan to move the vessel to a recycling facility; and to tow and recycle the vessel to eliminate the threat of pollution.
- The Request for Proposal was posted for 40-days to enable potential bidders to prepare their proposals. The solicitation period was extended due to industry requests and closed on August 24, 2020. None of the proposals were received deemed non-compliant. Coast Guard launched a new tendering process for the removal of the M/V Cormorant and the successful bidder was announced on October 8, 2020.
- Operations are currently underway. This includes towing the vessel to Sheer Harbour for her dismantling. This is estimated to take place end of November/beginning of December, dependant on weather and sea state.
Environmental response – M/V Caruso
- The Caruso has been assessed as a threat of pollution and the Coast Guard is taking action to remediate this threat.
- The Coast Guard issued a direction order to the vessel owner on May 8, 2020, requiring the owner to provide a response plan to immediately remediate the threat of pollution and stabilize the vessel.
- Despite attempts to work with the owner, the response plan that was submitted was insufficient to address the grave and immediate threat of pollution.
- The Coast Guard is assessing its options to move forward and address the threat of pollution posed by the Caruso.
- A survey of the M/V Caruso was conducted by the Coast Guard in 2017, and the vessel was found to be partially dismantled, and the presence of black oily fluid was found in the machinery room. An estimated volume of pollutants of 17,100 liters was noted.
Coast Guard completed an update to the 2017 survey in 2020. This assessment concluded that the Caruso poses a grave and immediate threat of pollution.
- The location of the vessel in Marie Joseph, Nova Scotia is adjacent to the Eastern Shore Island Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Area (EBSA), which is recognized for spawning and nursery ground for many fish species, seals and aggregations of invertebrates.
- On May 8, 2020, the Coast Guard issued a direction order requiring the owner to provide a response plan by May 22, 2020, to immediately remediate the threat of pollution and stabilize the vessel.
- An initial draft of a response plan was received from the owner on May 22, 2020, and a Coast Guard review of the plan determined that it was inadequate. Following several communications with the owner to address missing elements in the response plan, the owner submitted the missing elements of his plan on August 28, 2020. The plan has been reviewed and assessed to be insufficient to address the threat of pollution.
- Coast Guard is presently assessing its options to move forward with a plan to remediate the vessel and permanently address the threat of pollution posed by the Caruso.
Fleet Renewal/National Shipbuilding Strategy (general)
- The Coast Guard continues to make progress on fleet renewal through the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
- In 2019, the most significant investments in Coast Guard history were announced and included the construction of up to 24 new large vessels.
- All three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels have now been delivered, representing the first class of large vessels delivered through the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
- Coast Guard is also renewing its small vessel fleet with eight Search and Rescue Lifeboats and two Channel Survey and Sounding Vessels delivered in recent years.
- At the same time, interim measures are in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver essential services for Canadians, while the new ships are being built.
- This work aligns with the mandate letter commitment to: “work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement on the full renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet…”.
- Two Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels were delivered in June and November 2019. The third ship was delivered in October 2020. Coast Guard also took delivery of two Search and Rescue Lifeboats in October 2020.
- On August 2, 2019, Canada announced the construction of six new Program Icebreakers.
- In May 2019, the Prime Minister announced $15.7 billion for the construction of up to 18 large vessels, including up to 16 Multi-Purpose Vessels and two Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels. Design of a new class of small vessels was also announced.
- The Coast Guard has also put in place interim measures and is investing in vessel life extension work to ensure continued delivery of services and programs until the new ships are delivered.
- We are committed to building new ships, including icebreakers, for the Coast Guard to serve Canadians into the future.
- Until new assets can be delivered under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, the Government of Canada will take action to ensure continued service delivery.
- The Government is funding interim and supporting measures to ensure the existing fleet continues to deliver critical services until new ships are delivered.
- Three commercial icebreakers acquired in 2018, as well as a fourth “light” icebreaker, are interim measures to backfill for Coast Guard ships while they are undergoing vessel life extension work.
- Coast Guard’s use of interim measures facilitates shipbuilding in Canada, helping to sustain operational capabilities until new ships can be delivered under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
- Coast Guard is adopting interim measures to minimize service interruptions for clients until replacement vessels come online. This includes:
- A comprehensive Vessel Life Extension program to maintain the current fleet operational as new ships are being built;
- Acquisition of four interim icebreakers to backfill for ships while Vessel Life Extension work is undertaken.
- Three interim icebreakers with “medium” icebreaking capabilities: The first, CCGS Captain Molly Kool, came into service December 2018. Delivery of both the second and third ships are expected this fiscal year; and
- A fourth interim icebreaker with “light” icebreaking capabilities: A revised RFP was released in mid-September 2020. It is expected to remain open for 40 days.
Medium icebreakers conversion project
- We are investing in interim measures and vessel life extension work to ensure the continued delivery of essential services until new ships join our fleet.
- As part of this initiative, three medium icebreakers were acquired in 2018 through a competitive process. A competitive process to acquire a light icebreaker is also currently underway.
- Conversion and refit work is underway at Chantier Davie. The first icebreaker, CCGS Captain Molly Kool, first entered into service in December 2018.
- The final two vessels, CCGS Jean Goodwill and CCGS Vincent Massey are undergoing conversion work, and are expected to begin service in January 2021 and Fall of 2021.
- The purpose of the Medium Icebreakers and the Light Icebreaker (which is progressing per schedule with the Request for Proposal currently underway) is to backfill for large Coast Guard vessels undergoing Vessel Life Extension work, by providing vital services until new vessels come into service.
- The second and third vessel, CCGS Jean Goodwill and CCGS Vincent Massey, are expected to complete conversion work and enter into service in January 2021 and the Fall of 2021.
- The CCGS Captain Molly Kool is currently in dry-dock at Davies Shipyard, undergoing regulatory and preventative maintenance in order to be available for the Winter Gulf Ice Breaking Program in January 2021.
- Canada has launched a process to add a third Canadian shipyard under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) to build six new Program Icebreakers.
- These new vessels will renew Coast Guard’s aging icebreaker fleet and will operate in both northern and southern Canada.
- The first step, the Invitation to Qualify, is now complete. As announced in December 2019, Chantier Davie has pre-qualified to become the third NSS shipyard.
- The Request for Proposal process is underway and is expected to conclude in fall 2020.
- The third NSS shipyard is expected to be announced in 2021.
- This work aligns with the mandate letter commitment to: “work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement on the full renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet…”.
- The third National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) shipyard announcement is expected by spring 2021. The Request for Proposal was released to Chantier Davie in late July 2020 and is expected to close in fall 2020.
- The Invitation to Qualify, the first step in adding the new shipyard, is complete and it was announced in December 2019 that Chantier Davie had pre-qualified to become the third NSS yard.
- On August 2, 2019, Canada launched the competitive process to enhance the NSS by adding a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic partner.
- The Coast Guard continues to make progress on fleet renewal.
- As announced by the Prime Minister last year, Canada is currently exploring options to ensure efficient delivery of a Polar Icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard.
- A Request for Information has been issued to solicit Canada’s shipbuilding industry input on the procurement of the Polar Icebreaker.
- Polar Icebreaker procurement decision has not been made yet.
- Once delivered, the Polar Icebreaker will strengthen Canada’s presence and sovereignty in the Arctic, and provide enhanced capabilities for Coast Guard missions, including science.
- On February 28, 2020, Canada released a Request for Information seeking information on domestic shipyard capability and capacity to construct and deliver a Polar-class icebreaker. A decision has not been made yet.
- On May 22, 2019, it was announced that a long production run of 16 Multi-Purpose Vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard would replace the Polar Icebreaker in Vancouver Shipyards’ program of work.
- The mandate letter includes the direction to “work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement on the full renewal of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet, continuing the revitalization of the shipbuilding industry, creating middle class jobs and ensuring Canada’s marine services have the modern ships that they need”. The procurement of a Polar Icebreaker is part of the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet Renewal Plan.
- The Polar Icebreaker will be a modern, multi-purpose icebreaker capable of year-round operations in the Canadian Arctic. It will serve as the primary platform to support Arctic science, and will enhance capabilities for maritime safety, security, and environmental response services in the area.
Shoreline infrastructure - Verchères
- My department is aware of the concerns brought forward by property owners in the Verchères region along the St. Lawrence River.
- While protecting structures against shore erosion does not fall under the purview of my department’s mandate, the Government of Canada supports initiatives aimed at preventing shoreline erosion.
- For example, the Government of Canada is working closely with the commercial shipping industry on the St. Lawrence River to monitor and promote voluntary speed-reductions for vessels operating in erosion-sensitive zones.
- The Attorney General of Canada was served with a notice of request to certify a class action on January 29, 2020. The Government of Canada is now analyzing this request and will take a position on it within the timeframe to be agreed upon by the parties involved.
- On January 14th 2020, Radio-Canada broadcasted a documentary titled “Erosion des berges a Verchères” focussed on the state of degradation of the shoreline infrastructures built by the federal government over time and until 1997. The journalist interviewed different shoreline property owners that have structures in advanced stages of deterioration on their property. The documentary concluded with a reference to a collective action being prepared by shoreline residents against the government.
- On January 15th 2020, La Presse published an article based on the Radio-Canada documentary. The article explains that some residents along the St. Lawrence River have met with their federal representatives and subsequently formed a committee to advocate for the repair of deteriorating shoreline walls.
- Shoreline protection structures were built under a former Government of Canada program that aimed to protect the shoreline from erosion. The program was originally administered by Public Works, Transport Canada and finally Coast Guard, until it was abolished in 1997 under Program Review. It was determined that erosion was not a core safety mandate for the Canadian Coast Guard.
- There were approximately 2,700 structures built under the program with 2,450 structures built along the St. Lawrence River.
- The structures were built for the sole benefit of the land owners and property owners, who are responsible for the associated upkeep and ongoing maintenance.
- The Government of Canada has received numerous public inquiries and increasing media attention including formal petitions, requests for information from the Library of Parliament and written letters from politicians, municipalities and members of the public.
- The Government of Canada supports initiatives that prevent shoreline erosion. For example, the St. Lawrence Action Plan (SLAP), a joint initiative between the Governments of Canada and Quebec, monitors voluntary speed reduction measures in four erosion-sensitive zones between Sorel and Montréal. SLAP works with the commercial shipping industry to promote the voluntary speed reductions and monitors compliance through monthly reports created by Transport Canada.
- Shoreline erosion is not uniquely caused by passing ships. It is a complex phenomenon caused by many natural factors including ice, waves caused by wind, currents and tides.
Testing of crew members
- The Canadian Coast Guard remains committed to the health and safety of its members, while continuing to deliver critical services to Canadians, mariners and our partners.
- Health and safety measures implemented at our shore-based sites and aboard our vessels follow guidance of public health authorities, and continue to ensure the well-being of our Coast Guard members.
- A site-access health screening questionnaire has been developed by the Coast Guard in collaboration with health care professionals.
- The questionnaire has added an extra layer of protection, aimed at preventing outbreaks on board vessels and in operational settings.
- It also ensures employees are following the advice of their local health authorities while highlighting any oncoming or persistent symptoms that should be considered before granting access to the workspace.
- The Canadian Coast Guard provides critical services to Canadians, 24/day, 7 days/week across the country and in the Arctic.
- As all levels of government began implementing measures to slow the spread of Covid-19, the Canadian Coast Guard sought to introduce measures that would ensure the safety of our crews and other essential employees while continuing operations.
- The decision to create a health survey screening questionnaire, confirming the employee’s current health, body temperature and any potential exposure, to be completed prior to boarding a vessel or entering a Coast Guard base was adopted.
- The questionnaire follows the guidance of the public health authorities. For seagoing employees, the questionnaires are kept on file for one complete cycle for the purposes of contact tracing and then destroyed.
- The health screening questionnaire is reviewed and updated as required as guidance from the health authorities changes.
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