Canada's Leading Defence Magazine


Update on CAF Response to COVID-19

Operation LASER

As part of the response underway to help Canadians in the context of COVID‑19, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have been supporting civilian authorities in Quebec since April 20, 2020, and in Ontario since April 28, 2020, as agreed between the provincial and federal governments.

Members deployed in Long Term Care Facilities (LTCFs, or CHSLD in Quebec) are working collaboratively with their provincial partners and with medical staff in the homes to maintain staffing levels and help with infection control and prevention. They are providing assistance with the day-to-day operations, helping with the coordination and provision of medical care, and providing general support at the identified facilities. 

In Quebec, on April 20th, the Canada Armed Forces were deployed in the originally requested five long-term care facilities following a request for assistance. Following this initial deployment, CAF scaled up to 13 long-term care facilities. 

And as of today, the 7th of May, the CAF will have over 1020 personnel committed to the support of 20 long-term care facilities in Quebec. Of this number, over 670 medical and support personnel are contributing inside the facilities, while nearly 350 individuals are providing essential day-to-day support, such as delivering personal protective equipment and other needed supplies, maintaining liaison with the Province, as well as planning to refine operations to better support the patients of the long-term care facilities.

Additional CAF members will be deployed in the coming days to support Quebec’s most vulnerable residents. We expect to have approximately 1350 CAF members dedicated to this task in support of up to 25 facilities when the deployment is complete.

These task-tailored teams have been generated by the CAF from military bases across the country.  Before being integrated, members have undergone instruction in how to integrate with health services staff, they have been trained on the use of medical-grade personal protective equipment, and they have also received a mandatory long-term care facility orientation facilitated by Quebec. 

Last week, the CAF has started to assist in five Long Term Care Facilities (LTCFs) across the Greater Toronto Area. This was in response to a Request for Assistance from the Province of Ontario.

While the exact number of deployed personnel fluctuates, the CAF is employing approximately 265 medical and support personnel.

Conditions at these LTCFs and others across the country are being monitored by the provinces and CAF support may be reassessed as required. The CAF’s support to these LTCFs is intended as an interim measure to help Ontario and Quebec get through a critical situation over the short term.


Canadian Rangers and the CAF’s presence in remote areas

The Canadian Rangers are active members of their communities and they are proud to help out during these difficult times. As a result of COVID-19, approximately 1,200 Rangers are employed throughout many communities across Canada.

In Quebec, the Canadian Rangers have deployed to Nunavik, Côte-Nord and Basse-Côte-Nord to support these remote communities in their fight against COVID-19. Our Canadian Rangers are making a difference stop and slow the spread of COVID-19, preparing triage points to facilitate the work of healthcare personnel, as well as providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations,.

In Northern Saskatchewan, the Canadian Rangers are providing logistical support including wellness checks, transportation and distribution of local supplies to community members. They are also assisting in staffing municipal/community-operated command posts and emergency centres, gathering data and statistics on the COVID-19 relief efforts, and supporting community food security through hunting, gathering and fishing. Some are also assisting community elders by cutting and delivering firewood, hauling and refilling water, and delivering medications and groceries.

In British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii archipelago, in Yukon, in the Northwest Territories and in Nunavut, the Canadian Rangers are providing logistical support including wellness checks; gathering data and statistics on the current state of the community relative to the COVID-19 relief efforts; and delivering critical goods to people in need including groceries and prescription medications.

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