Canadian Forces troops in Prairies to help in national COVID-19 response

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally stated three Hercules aircraft landed in Calgary to aid in the national COVID-19 response. While Canadian Forces members are ready to help provinces and cities respond to the pandemic, these three aircraft were related to other training operations, unrelated to the pandemic.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces — along with resources and equipment — are in the Prairie provinces to help with the national COVID-19 response, if needed.

A spokesperson for National Defence told Global News Wednesday that while there is no current request for assistance from the Prairie provinces, “prudent contingency planning and preparations are ongoing across Canada to ensure that our personnel, resources and equipment are ready and that we are prepared to respond quickly and effectively to assist in the national COVID-19 response, in support of civil authorities, if asked.”

Read more: Canadian Armed Forces deployed to Saskatchewan in emergency response to COVID-19

Public Safety Canada is the lead in coordinating a federal emergency response and the armed forces “stand ready to offer assistance in support of civilian authorities during any crisis in Canada, when requested by the government.”

The Canadian Rangers have been activated in four First Nations in the prairie provinces and one in Ontario, “following provincial requests for Canadian Armed Forces assistance,” she explained.

Operation LASER is described as the military’s “response to a worldwide pandemic situation.” In four phases, CAF personnel and the department of National Defence will help prepare, alert, respond and restore during a pandemic crisis.

The DND statement said: “The CAF continues to work closely with Public Safety and our federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous partners to align the provision of possible CAF military support and related capabilities with the overall government COVID-19 response.”

Military plane seen at the Calgary International Airport on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.
Military plane seen at the Calgary International Airport on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. Global News

Three CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft were seen at the Calgary International Airport Wednesday morning.

They are not related to vaccines, CAF public affairs officer David Lavallee said.

Read more: Canadian military creates ‘Operation Vector’ to help with coronavirus vaccine rollout

“Two are CC-130J Hercules from 436 Squadron, based at 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., both of which are conducing tactical airlift training for aircrew.

“The other is a CC-130T Hercules from Winnipeg-based 435 Squadron, which is supporting CF-18 Hornet training out of Cold Lake with air-to-air refuelling.”

Click to play video 'Military support for COVID-19 response in remote Manitoba First Nation' 1:39 Military support for COVID-19 response in remote Manitoba First Nation

Military support for COVID-19 response in remote Manitoba First Nation

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