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Three RCMP cadets, wearing masks, stand facing away from the camera.

Depot continues training during the pandemic

Working closely with provincial and federal health authorities allowed Depot to continue training during the pandemic while ensuring the health and safety of staff and cadets. Credit: RCMP Depot Division


Although COVID-19 knocked Depot's plans off course in 2020, immediate action ensured RCMP cadets could safely resume their instruction and graduate without reducing the quality of training.

"We had a very methodological approach to resume training," says Cpl. Miles Hiebert, a facilitator at Depot, the RCMP's training academy in Regina, and member of its training resumption team.

A total of 600 Cadets went home in March 2020 when a global pandemic was declared and training was put on hold for almost three months.

After intensive planning, the 32-cadet troops began making a gradual return to Depot in May 2020 and completed their instruction one-by-one. Every troop whose training was interrupted graduated by the end of March 2021.

"It's critical that as RCMP members retire, there're incoming cadets who can take those positions and continue to contribute to the safety and well being of Canadians," says RCMP C/Supt. Tyler Bates, who oversees training at Depot.

Mitigating risks

Staff at every Depot unit were consulted about the return to training and Depot officials were in talks with provincial and federal health authorities about the situation.

"It was integral we had the cooperation of the Saskatchewan Health Authority because there was some hesitancy with reopening," says Hiebert.

To ease those concerns, measures were established to ensure training could continue as safe as possible throughout the pandemic.

Since then, after arriving at Depot, cadets are now required to isolate for 14 days while they complete preliminary online training. Following that, each troop is considered a bubble for the rest of their instruction, only interacting with cadets from their troop.

Some changes were also made to the Cadet Training Program to reduce close contact and activities with higher risks, while maintaining the integrity of the program and the quality of instruction.

Those measures included: dorm rooms and class sizes reduced by half, increased cleaning protocols, health screening, and mandatory masks and physical distancing in dining and training spaces.

If close contact is necessary during training, the masked cadets are separated into pods of four to six people.

Worth the wait

RCMP Cst. Arshdeep Sidhu was one of the cadets whose training was interrupted last March.

"It was a very uncertain time," says Sidhu, who graduated Depot in September, 2020 before starting work at the RCMP's Burnaby, B.C. detachment.

For Sidhu, attending Depot and becoming an RCMP officer, a goal he's had since his teenage years, has been worth it despite the disruptions.

"I'm in a position to be more involved with the community, develop positive relationships and work with youth," says Sidhu. "Those things are important to me."

Each year, nearly 1,300 cadets attend Depot to become RCMP officers.

While pandemic restrictions mean they won't reach that number this year, they hope to graduate close to 1,000 new RCMP members in 2021.

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