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Canadian military ready to mobilize 24,000 troops for COVID-19: defence minister

Last Updated Mar 30, 2020 at 1:58 pm EDT

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance looks on as National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, March 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says 24,000 Canadian troops are ready to jump into action to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government says it has not received any formal requests for assistance from provinces or municipalities.

But Sajjan says the government is ready to mobilize around a quarter of the force at a moment’s notice should they be required.

That includes putting 10 Canadian Army units into a high state of readiness as well as Navy ships and Air Force aircraft and crew.

The commander of the Navy’s Atlantic forces this afternoon ordered the crews of two frigates as well as a helicopter detachment to remain sequestered in a Halifax hotel for two weeks.

Rear-Admiral Craig Baines says the move is intended to make sure the service members do not contract COVID-19 and are ready to respond if and when they are required.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press