Canadian military assembles ‘rapid reaction’ teams to help with pandemic response

The Canadian military has mobilized 24,000 full-time and part-time members to respond to calls from provinces and northern Indigenous communities for help with pandemic measures, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Monday.

The military’s “rapid reaction” teams will be available for a range of missions, such as delivering medical supplies and supporting remote communities that may be vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks.

At least 10 regular force units on bases across the country have troops and equipment set aside to take action. At the moment, no formal requests for what’s known as “aid to the civil power” have been submitted to the federal government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today during his daily press briefing outside of his home at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.

The Department of National Defence has been in conversation with some northern communities about their pandemic needs, Sajjan said.

Each request for military help will be evaluated based on need, not geography, the minister added.

The military has medical teams that can assist in remote communities. It also could be tasked with other aspects of pandemic response.

The U.S. Air Force has been shuttling COVID-19 test kits to various parts of the country, while the Pentagon has turned thousands of ventilators over to overstretched civilian hospitals.

While the Canadian military has transport capacity, it does not have an oversupply of medical equipment and personal protective equipment, the chief of the defence staff said last week.


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