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The Canadian Forces says it realizes military personnel have concerns there might not be enough masks for troops being mobilized for pandemic duties but it has conducted an inventory and is confident there is enough equipment.
But some military personnel who are considered essential and are continuing on the job for other duties have complained their commanders told them they can’t wear masks.
The Canadian Forces has plans to mobilize 24,000 military personnel if they are needed by federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government to provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not known how many of those personnel will be needed.
Department of National Defence spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said the military is aware of concerns that there won’t be enough personal protective equipment such as masks. “We are sufficiently equipped to ensure any front-line CAF members called to support efforts have what they need to meet their health and safety needs,” he noted. “A full inventory of the current stockpile has been conducted and we are confident that the supply is sufficient.”
Orders have also been placed for both medical grade and non-medical grade personal protective equipment, or PPE, in order to make sure it’s possible to “resupply our stockpile based on our expected burn rate of equipment,” added Le Bouthillier.
Canada, like other nations, has had difficulties in obtaining PPE.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged Monday there have been delays or that some shipments have been stopped. “This continues to be an ongoing problem — specifically with the United States,” Trudeau said. “We are working with them to ensure the orders Canada has placed get delivered. We expect those shipments to come.”
The U.S. has been accused of taking supplies earmarked for other countries or preventing the export of PPE from American factories. Canadian-based pulp and paper companies provide the U.S. with the material needed for the masks.
Some Canadian Forces personnel will not need PPE depending on their jobs so they will not receive that equipment, military sources say. “CAF members called upon to perform functions in support of civil authorities will be issued PPE,” Le Bouthillier added.
Some personnel serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force and maintaining aircraft have complained their commanding officers will not allow them to wear masks, claiming that is against military regulations. Maintainers are sometimes required to work in close proximity to one another, making it difficult for the physical distancing needed to prevent the spread of the virus.
In the meantime, the military announced Monday that Canadian Rangers are going to be assisting the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services in its response to the coronavirus.
The 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group plans to mobilize 40 Rangers on continuous standby and another 40 are on call for short tasks, as long as their presence is required and authorized.
The 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group mobilized its 14 Canadian Ranger patrols in Nunavik on April 3 in response to a request from the Quebec government. The rangers, who are permanent residents of the 14 Nunavik communities, serve in the Canadian Army reserves. They provide the Canadian Forces with a military presence in the isolated and coastal areas of Quebec’s northern and north-shore regions.
The spread of COVID-19 in remote and isolated communities has been a concern for authorities since the beginning of the pandemic announcement.
Tasks performed by the Canadian Rangers in Nunavik will vary. The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services has requested the rangers prepare triage points to facilitate the work of healthcare personnel, according to the Canadian Forces.
There are 305 Canadian Rangers in Nunavik.
Military personnel to be deployed have been in voluntary isolation since March13.
“The Canadian Rangers provide a range of specialized services in their geographic area of operation, including responding quickly to emergencies or ground search and rescue operations,” Lt.-Col. Benoit Mainville, 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group Commanding Officer, said in a statement.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020
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