A military contingent is expected to be in position Monday to decide where to deploy eight critical care nurses who will help Alberta fight COVID-19.
Last Thursday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian Armed Forces staff will arrive at CFB Edmonton in order to provide help at hospitals in the province’s capital city.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canadian Armed Forces members will use their experience to help Alberta battle the fourth wave of the pandemic.
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Operation LASER is the Canadian Armed Forces’ response to COVID-19.
Sajjan says that since the beginning of the pandemic, the military has responded to more than 65 requests for assistance from provincial or federal partners.
Public Safety Canada says the Canadian Red Cross is also planning to send up to 20 medical professionals, some with intensive care experience, to augment or relieve staff working in Alberta’s hospitals.
Kenney said those Red Cross workers will likely be deployed to the hard-hit Red Deer Regional Hospital in central Alberta.
CAF, Red Cross to assist Alberta with COVID-19 surge, strained health-care system, health minister says
Newfoundland and Labrador is also sending a medical team of five or six intensive care staff to work in Alberta’s northern oil hub city of Fort McMurray.
Alberta Health Services, the healthy authority for the entire province, confirmed to Global News the process will likely happen this week.
“Alberta Health Services is grateful for the assistance of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Red Cross in providing additional medical personnel to help alleviate the increased pressure on our health system as a result of COVID-19,” said a statement Sunday from AHS.
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Alberta’s health delivery agency has seen over 1,000 new daily COVID-19 cases for weeks, and has had to scramble and reassign staff to handle the surge of intensive care patients.
Kenney announced last week that his government was finalizing the deal for outside support from the military.
“I know that Alberta health-care workers will be grateful for the helping hand and that all Albertans are thankful for any assistance at this challenging time,” Kenney said at the Thursday news conference in Calgary.
Some of those health-care workers have called on Kenney to do more.
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Intensive care physicians, emergency ward doctors, the executive of the Alberta Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association have called for a swift lockdown to reverse the tide of COVID-19 patients.
Kenney has said he wants to see if recent health measures including a mask mandate, gathering restrictions and a form of vaccine passport boost vaccination rates.
— With files from Morgan Black, Global News
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