While the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are on alert to assist civil authorities in the current COVID-19 crisis, there have yet to be any requests for assistance, the Department of National Defence said March 24.
However, “an increase in demands for CAF support is anticipated,” the department said in a statement.
Chief of Defense Staff Jonathan Vance has heightened military preparedness (https://bit.ly/2UCjihl) twice since March 2.
“As a result of the evolving situation, the chief of the defence staff has ordered the examination of the potential challenges of balancing the demands of multiple departments and agencies at various echelons of government for CAF support, while preserving adequate capacity to surge in a scale when needed the most, and still be able to respond to unforeseen events, such as domestic national disaster, national security crisis, and other operational demands,” the statement said.
Part of operational planning underway includes detailed planning for possible assistance missions for which the CAF may be called on, the statement said.
“This planning will help us set the conditions to effectively deploy capabilities to support overall Government of Canada efforts to address COVID-19 while simultaneously protecting the health and safety of our personnel,” the department said.
“For now we continue to work with our federal and provincial partners to monitor the situation. Canadians can rest assured that CAF members are highly trained and stand ready to offer assistance, as required,” it said.
Canadian Civil Liberties Association president Michael Bryant has repeatedly stressed the need for government to be transparent in any actions it takes – including those involving the armed forces – to ensure Canadians’ constitutional civil liberties are protected
Bryant said any actions must be backed by transparency around what legal authority permits such actions.