CTV News | Top Stories - Breaking News - Top News Headlines
Government sending more troops to Quebec to assist COVID-19 response
OTTAWA -- The federal government is sending more troops to Quebec to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.
Trudeau announced the move during his Wednesday press conference, explaining that a sub-component of the Canadian Armed Forces called the Canadian Rangers would be deployed in Côte-Nord, Quebec — a northeastern region of Quebec that borders on Newfoundland and Labrador.
"The government of Quebec has sent us a second request for Basque Cote-Nord. I can confirm that the Canadian Rangers will be there to provide support," Trudeau said.
This second request comes after an initial request from the province on April 3, wherein the provincial government asked its federal counterpart to send members of the Canadian Armed Forces to northern Quebec. The troops were sent to the northern third of Quebec, known as Nunavik, to shore up resources in remote, isolated communities. Trudeau said at the time that the forces would be undertaking tasks such as building medical infrastructure and installing tents.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said on March 30 that there are up to 24,000 regular and reserve forces ready to deploy, and 10 units across the country that could react immediately to any request for assistance whether it be humanitarian, delivering supplies, or other actions.
Gen. Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, also told CTV National News' Omar Sachedina on April 2 that the Canadian Armed forces are taking "extraordinary" measures to ensure its members are healthy and able to deploy quickly should a province or territory request help to fight an invisible enemy.
Those measures include keeping members home and healthy to ensure they're available for these operations, as well as a push to give reservists full-time contracts to make them immediately available.
While Vance said at the time he primarily expected to undertake operations in remote communities — the likes of which Quebec has now requested — he said his members are ready for larger aid requests as well.
"We are certainly posturing ourselves for larger operations," Vance told Sachedina, "but I gotta tell you: I honestly hope they don't come."
With files from CTV News' Omar Sachedina and Rachel Aiello