Defence chief puts Canadian military on COVID-19 war footing


OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces is being put on a war footing as it prepares to be thrown into the COVID-19 crisis.

In an unprecedented five-page letter to the troops, defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance says military planners are busy identifying who will be asked to respond if and when the call for military assistance arrives.

In the meantime, he says the primary mission for all those at home is to stay healthy so they are ready and able to respond should the need arise.

Vance is also encouraging military personnel in the process of voluntarily leaving the Forces to stay longer as recruitment has ceased.

He is also opening the door to former service members who might be thinking about rejoining and says efforts are underway to keep anyone who is leaving for medical reasons and whose transition to civilian life might be in jeopardy, at least until the pandemic passes.

Vance also says overseas missions will be scaled back to protect the force, and anyone who does return will be required to be ready for duty after a mandatory 14-day quarantine.