Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the situation has been stabilized at some of the care homes, which have suffered deadly outbreaks of the novel coronavirus as well as staffing shortages.
He said the members would remain in the homes until they were designated “green” in the province’s classification system.
“We’re making sure that the military does not leave any situation until it has been stabilized,” he said in an address at a brewery in Kanata, Ont.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said later on Friday that a “humanitarian workforce” from the Red Cross would be funded in part by a federal investment of up to $100 million announced last month.
“In any emergency situation, the Red Cross is always among the first … to lend a helping hand to people in need,” he said. “And we’ve seen it happen time and time again when disaster strikes.”
Last week, the Red Cross announced it was recruiting staff to work Quebec’s care facilities. Blair said more than 2,400 applications have been received to date. By the end of July, the organization aims to have 900 people trained to provide support in homes hard hit by the virus.
They will remain in place until Sept. 15, when the province’s recruitment efforts are expected to be complete and permanent staff can be deployed.
Quebec Premier François Legault had asked Ottawa to keep the military members in the facilities beyond the scheduled end of their deployment, which was Friday.
Red Cross workers will be sent to the homes gradually starting on July 6.
Canadian Armed Forces members have been providing support in care homes since April. Troops were deployed to 47 homes in Quebec, and seven in Ontario.
Fifty-five members contracted the virus during the deployment though almost all have already recovered, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said while members are beginning to withdraw from the facilities, the Canadian Forces will still be able to assist if conditions worsen.
“The Canadian Armed Forces will continue to maintain a reserve of 10 augmented civilian care shifts, teams of medical and support personnel who will be ready to assist Quebec facilities in case the situation becomes critical again,” he said.
–With files from the Canadian PressView link »