Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are expected to assist with distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in Northern Ontario.
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair says Ottawa has approved a request from the Ontario government to assist 32 communities in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
National Defence Minister Harjit Saijan confirmed the news, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adds members will provide logistical support, help with vaccination efforts and will work to keep people safe as the country continues to fight against COVID-19.
In February, Ornge Air Ambulance will lead the vaccine's rollout to 31 fly-in communities. Staff say the Canadian Rangers will be supporting their mission if required, and if desired and approved by each community.
Members of the Rangers are also often residents of these communities, and they will not work as vaccinators. Rangers are set to provide logistics support relating to vaccination clinic readiness, and arranging for transportation and translation services.
NIshnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler adds they remain committed to giving their citizens the most accurate information on the COVID-19 vaccines in the language and dialect they can understand, which is critical to the vaccine’s rollout in the north.
To date, 760 doses have been delivered by Ornge to Sioux Lookout, with 568 doses to the Meno Ya Win Health Centre and 45 doses to the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority.
NWHU recommends that everyone assume COVID-19 is in their community and practise preventive measures like physical distancing, wearing a mask in enclosed public spaces and when physical distancing is a challenge, good hand hygiene, and not touching their face.