A senior military commander in Western Canada says he doesn’t expect much opposition from Canadian Forces personnel over mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.
Ottawa demands that federal employees, including the military, be fully immunized by the end of this month. The government also expects employers in federally regulated industries, including banks and airlines, to do the same.
Brig.-Gen. Bill Fletcher, who is in charge of the 3rd Canadian Division Western Canada, oversees the training of Canadian soldiers and Pacific Ocean operations in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
There are nearly 12,000 regular and reserve forces under its control.
“The government has made it clear that we will follow the same direction the government has given the public service and that we will enforce mandatory vaccines across the Canadian military,” Fletcher said in an interview from his office. in Edmonton.
He said more than 90 percent of the Canadian military are already doubly vaccinated and that he is not worried about the decline of what he calls a small percentage.
âWe had already dealt with the implications for deploymentsâ¦ of unvaccinated people entering a hot COVID environment or entering an international setting where the host country said, ‘you will be doubly vaccinated,â he said.
“These people ultimately have to decide if they will be vaccinated.”
He said he could not comment on what would happen to staff who are not vaccinated. But the federal government has said officials will be put on administrative leave without pay if they are not vaccinated by October 29.
Fletcher said the response to COVID-19 has been a learning process for the Canadian Forces because it was “nothing nobody had ever talked about in any of my military training.”
Members of the military, he added, have helped both with pandemic assistance and the distribution of vaccines across the country.
Some calls for help included outbreaks of COVID-19 in remote northern communities such as Shamattawa First Nation in Manitoba, Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation in Saskatchewan and Fort Nelson First Nation in British Columbia.
Fletcher said it was positive for the mental health of military personnel to be able to help during the pandemic because sitting at home with their families during the early stages “aged quite quickly.”
âThese are women and men who did not join them to sit at home. It started to take its toll, I think, from a mental health standpoint, certainly from a training standpoint, âFletcher said.
âWe had soldiers who were considering release actually withdrew their release so they could respond on behalf of Canadians. So I think it was very cathartic. We went back to doing what the soldiers wanted to do.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
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Canadian Armed Forces Coronavirus