It’s not clear what exactly the Canadian Armed Forces will be called upon to do, but many members of the military have specifically been told to stay home to stay healthy to be ready to respond if needed.
Federal Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan tasked the Armed Forces to come up with a plan that would support a domestic response to COVID-19 around three priorities.
“To support the efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, to provide support to vulnerable communities across Canada and to assist our provincial and territorial partners with logistics including directly supporting municipalities if needed,” said Sajjan at an Ottawa news conference Monday. “During these unprecedented times, those who wear the uniform will be there for Canadians when called upon.”
A total of 24,000 regular and reserve members, including some with the Canadian Scottish Regiment on Vancouver Island, are ready to respond but so far no province or territory has asked for help.
That includes putting 10 Canadian Army units into a high state of readiness as well as Navy ships and Air Force aircraft and crew.
“These flexible teams are capable of operating as local response forces to assist with humanitarian support, wellness checks, natural disaster response and other tasks as required,” Sajjan added.
“We are going to be able to respond either with specialist capabilities like medical, logistics, engineering for a short-duration event or longer-duration events depending on what the need of the provinces is,” said Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance.
The minister isn’t ruling out that the military could be used to enforce quarantines.
It could also be called upon to help with floods and forest fires if local and provincial teams are impacted by COVID-19.
“In the event that communities start to suffer multiple events including floods and forest fires inside a COVID environment,” said Sajjan.
There will also be a focus on northern and indigenous communities if the need for help arises.