General Vance addresses tragic accidents, Op Laser, and returning to the workplace

(Above image: Feb 6, 2016 Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance explains the new military strategy to respond to the Middle East crisis. Photo: Art Babych.)

Tragic events, Op Laser, and resumption of training were addressed in the Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance’s weekly letter. He began his letter noting that this week was “another difficult week for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the nation.” 

With the tragic events that have taken place over the last month, while on Operation Inspiration Snowbird 11 crashed in Kamloops this past weekend. Captain Jennifer Casey, the squadron’s Public Affairs Officer (PAO ), lost her life, and pilot Captain Richard MacDougall was injured.

Plus, the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crash in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece last month. Six CAF personnel, Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, and Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough lost their lives. 

“The Snowbirds Op INSPIRATION brought joy and hope to Canadians as they flew across our country,” stated Vance. “The sad and tragic irony is that Captain Casey, as the team PAO, was very much responsible for the uplifting effect of Op INSPIRATION.” 

Captain Casey will return to her final resting place in her home province of Nova Scotia this weekend. 

“I want to wish Captain Richard MacDougall the skilled and courageous pilot of the aircraft a full and quick recovery from his injuries, and our thoughts go to the Snowbirds team as they deal with the challenging days ahead. May Jennifer rest in peace, and may the Snowbirds fly and perform again soon for her and for all of us.” 

Search and Recovery Mission

Search and Recovery of CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, Stalker 22, is currently underway with the help of Canadian Allies, noting the United States Navy. 

“Our primary focus in the search and recovery and repatriation of the remains of our fallen. The second is the recovery of the aircraft, with the view that this will help with the flight safety investigation and advance our understanding of what caused the accident,” stated Vance. 

He noted that the CAF would be updating the families, CAF personnel and families, and the public as the recovery moves forward. 

“We remain committed to doing everything we can to recover our lost CAF personnel and bring them home.” 

With HMCS Fredricton recommencing operations, the CAF is currently looking to re-establish a Cyclone helicopter air detachment before the ship’s mission ends in July. 


As of May 21, 2020, yesterday, 29 Canadian Armed Forces personnel working in Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF) in Quebec and Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19. 


      • 13 Tested Positive


      • 16 Tested Positive

General Vance commended the personnel working in the LTCF and mentioned, with advice from the CAF Surgeon General personnel are following all the protocols. 

“To recognize this uniquely hazardous environment, as previously mentioned, I have tasked my staff to pursue Hazard Allowance for those directly engaged inside the facilities. I will provide further information on this issue shortly.” 


Regarding PERs Vance noted that CANFORGEN 068/20 AMPLIFICATION TO CANFORGEN 045/20 CHANGES TO CAF PER FOR 2019/2020 DUE TO COVID 19 had been issued. 

“Submission date for PERs have been pushed to 30 June 2020, with Fall selection boards being planned.” 

He noted that personnel need to read the CANFORGEN as PERs need to be processed promptly despite COVID-19 challenges.

Training to Start

The General noted that Deputy Minister Jody Thomas and himself had issued a direction to the CAF and DND to begin the process of training. 

“The main effort will be individual training through DP1 course in both the Regular and Reserve Force. You can expect Warning Order soon.” 

He stated, on average, the CAF is at approximately D-30 for the staged, deliberate, conditions-based resumption of training at CFLRS, the Combat Training Centre, Division Training Centre, the Air Division, and the Coasts. 

“Expeditionary rotations and missions will recommence and those missions that have been reduced in strength to meet force protection demand will be gradually re-established to full strength.” 

In Closing

He closed his letter thanking and reminding everyone to stay healthy. 

He also “remind you that considerable leeway has been granted to customize moves and administration associations with posting to ensure that you can do your part to manage your part to manage your health and safety and that of your loved ones while meeting your obligations.” 

He noted the same could be said for returning in regards to returning to the workplace and childcare. 

“Keep your chain of command well informed and you will be well served. The COVID-19 environment is our new reality and we will continue to adapt as we serve and defend Canada.” 

He closed his letter with the handwritten message, “We stand with you, Rich. Rest in Peace Jennifer. Snowbirds Forever!”

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