A new survey conducted by the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and Ipsos Canada shows that 9 in 10 Canadians (88%) believe that the Canadian Armed Forces have a role to play in supporting civilian authorities manage and mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak.

When asked what this support might look like tangibly, among those who supported CAF involvement, two thirds of respondents would have the CAF help facilitate the delivery of medical and other supplies to service providers and the Canadian public (65%) and protecting the safety of Canadian’s by supporting law enforcement if deemed necessary (64%), and a majority also envisioned the CAF assisting in the quarantining of at-risk or infected travellers and evacuees by continuing to use the Trenton military airbase as a point of entry (58%), and contributing to evacuation efforts and medical transportation of infected Canadians (54%).

Around the world militaries have begun contributing in significant ways. The Pentagon handed over 2000 ventilators to civilian authorities. In the UK, the military is getting involved in delivering oxygen to hospitals. In France, they are setting up field hospitals, and in China, they went so far as to build – at incredible speed – a hospital from the ground up.

« Militaries are being asked to step in, arguably because their know-how and experiences help them deliver great results in high stress, low resources environments. That being said, they must be seen as a last resort, not our front line of action. If we over-utilize them early, we may find ourselves caught short in the face of multiple fronts erupting, like flooding this spring, forest fires in the summer, or terrorist groups and rogue nations using this world-wide distraction to gain strength and engage in bold and deadly actions, like we saw with Boko Haram earlier this week in the Sahel region.” Dr Youri Cormier, Executive Director, Conference of Defence Associations Institute. 

“I am not surprised by these survey results. Time and again Canadians have seen the outstanding professionalism and critical contributions of the men and women of the Canadian Forces in humanitarian missions and natural disaster relief operations abroad and at home. There is no more important mission for the Forces than protecting Canadians in times of great need, and they are a highly respected and trusted national institution.” – LGen (Retired) Guy Thibault, Chair of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and Former Vice-Chief of Defence Staff. 

The survey question was asked to Canadians as part of a larger research initiative analysing how Canadians consume and react to storylines about the Canadian Armed Forces in the media. The final report will be made public next month.

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 20-23, 2020, on behalf of the Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) Institute. For this survey, a sample of 2,000 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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