COVID-19: Canadian military preparing to send ICU nurses, medics after Ontario’s request for help

As Ontario continues to get a handle on the surging third wave of COVID-19 cases and crushing patient loads at intensive care units, the Canadian Armed Forces is preparing for a potential deployment of medical personnel to the province after a recent request for assistance.

“There are over 1,900 patients with COVID-19 in the province of Ontario’s hospitals and of those, 659 are being treated in intensive care for COVID-related illnesses. Nearly 450 patients that are in critical care require a ventilator to breathe,” an unclassified warning order obtained by Global News on Monday said.

“COVID variants of concern have spread rapidly in Ontario in recent weeks and in particular in the Greater Toronto Area. This has resulted in civilian hospital capacity being exceeded.”

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According to the document, personnel are currently preparing for potential deployment as the request for assistance process continues. If ultimately approved, critical care nursing officers and up to three mobile medical assistance teams, which would be able to assist with 24-hour medical transports, could be sent to Ontario.

News of the warning order came after a spokesperson for federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in mid-April he received a “draft” request for assistance from the Ontario government.

The exact nature of the assistance requested wasn’t clear at the time as that was said to be the subject of negotiations between both levels of government.

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Among the federal government’s options was a plan to deploy medical staff from the Canadian Armed Forces, but additional staff and volunteers from the Canadian Red Cross were also an option.

Recent weeks have seen all-time daily case records shattered across the province with the peak high of less than 5,000 cases reported in a 24-hour period. On Monday, there were more than 3,500 new cases reported.

The cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in Ontario since the pandemic began is just before 450,000 cases and almost 8,000 people have died.

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This is a developing story that will be updated throughout the day.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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