By Leo Ryan, Editor
Responding to questions from Maritime Magazine, the Canadian Coast Guard disclosed that an agreement has been reached with the provincial health authorities guaranteeing COVID-19 testing of crew members prior to deployment from Québec City to the Arctic for the whole icebreaking season. The icebreaking services starting June 22 and lasting until November are vital for northern communities and the Arctic sealift carriers providing supplies.
“Following very constructive conversations with provincial health authorities in Quebec, we have secured COVID-19 testing for all Canadian Coast Guard crew members who are deploying to the Arctic from Québec City this season,” said CCG spokesman Benoit Myrand. “We are finalizing logistics for this testing and will share more information once details are confirmed.”
He added that the CCG is continuing to work to arrange testing for crew members deploying to the Arctic from St. John’s, NL and Victoria, BC “and will provide an update when we have information to share.”
Last week, the CCG indicated it was applying “extraordinary measures” in advance of the Arctic shipping season to protect crew members and the general public, including working on arrangements with local health authorities. Several media reports (See MM June 22) had previously evoked serious concerns expressed by some mariners on being tested well before departure and on the time it could take to receive medical assistance once in the Arctic.
All told, eight CCG icebreakers are slated to be deployed this season. The CCGS Pierre Radisson is to leave Québec City on June 22. On the same day, the CCGS Terry Fox is to depart from St. John’s.
(Photo Canadian Coast Guard)