Canadian army deployed to Inuit villages
The Canadian army has been deployed in northern Quebec to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Inuit villages, where two cases have been confirmed, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.
The Rangers, a branch of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) reserve force, already had a “military presence in sparsely populated areas of northern Canada,” said the Canadian government.
“We have received a request from the Government of Quebec for an intervention by the armed forces to lend a hand to northern and isolated communities,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during his daily press conference.
“Our members are always ready to help communities to fight” against COVID-19. “I can confirm that the armed forces will be there for Quebecers and for all Canadians,” he added.
“The number of soldiers and resources required to perform the specific tasks determined” remains to be clarified, said an army spokesperson.
About 700 Canadian Rangers, among the 5,000 in this unit, are based in Quebec.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said Monday that 24,000 troops could be mobilized to help slow the spread of the virus and intervene as a backup for the floods and fires.
The first case of coronavirus in Nunavik, an arctic region of Quebec that is home to some 12,000 inhabitants, mainly Inuit spread across a string of 14 coastal villages, was listed on Saturday.
A second case was confirmed Wednesday in the village of Puvirnituq, on Hudson Bay.
Canada reported Friday afternoon more than 12,000 cases of coronavirus and 208 deaths.
In addition, 60,000 soldiers, or 85% of the Canadian military, have been ordered to place themselves in segregation in preparation for possible deployments to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.
“They are ordered to stay at home and stay healthy,” Canadian Chief of Defense Staff Jonathan Vance told the English-language channel Global News .
OTTAWA OFFERS FULL-TIME JOBS FOR ARMY RESERVISTS
The federal government wants to offer full-time employment to all reservists in the Canadian Armed Forces, until the end of the summer, in order to strengthen the ranks of the military, but also to offer work to disadvantaged Canadians currently on foot.
Reservists from across the country are being contacted for interest and availability. They would then be entitled to the same wages and benefits as members of the regular force for the next five months, remaining available if the military were asked to lend a helping hand to civilian organizations.
In a letter to the military and their families, General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defense Staff, said Friday that reservists will likely serve near their homes – but that may change. “I expect members of the Reserve Force to serve first in their local community and the surrounding area, while being ready to be deployed quickly if operations require,” wrote the general.
Vance also said that the Ceremonial Guard on Parliament Hill and at Rideau Hall will be canceled this summer, and that the military is still examining options to see if it will be possible to maintain sentries at the Tomb of the Soldier. unknown, in Ottawa. The season for performances by the Snowbirds and other demonstration teams may also be canceled.
Although planning is still underway, the Department of National Defense says that many reservists who voluntarily accept full-time service will have their contracts begin on Sunday and continue until the end of August. Defense Ministry spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said Friday that volunteers will have to commit to “staying at home, in good health”, until a specific mission or task is assigned to them. .
24,000 soldiers on alert
Canada has approximately 25,000 reservists; most serve one day per week and one weekend per month. However, they are often asked to lend a helping hand to the regular force during natural disasters each year, and can represent 20% to 30% of the military personnel deployed during a mission abroad.
Retired Lieutenant-General Guy Thibault, who served as second in command of the Armed Forces, welcomed the decision to offer full-time employment to all reservists during the pandemic.
Many reservists are university students or in other part-time jobs that may have been affected by the pandemic, he said. It therefore makes sense to integrate them into the Forces at a time when they may need money and the military needs people.
A “perfect opportunity” for both parties, said retired Lieutenant-General Thibault, who now chairs the board of the Institute of the Conference of Defense Associations. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press