Volume 31 | The Future of Domestic Operations: Rethinking the Role of the CAF in Emergency Response

In September 2022, the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona once again highlighted the vulnerability of Canadian communities to climate change. Other recent events such as the covid-19 pandemic have also underscored the needs of provinces and territories for emergency assistance. During these critical moments, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are often called in as reinforcements.

Yet, the Chief of the Defence Staff recently claimed that the CAF should be “a force of last resort” during these events, instead of being systematically called upon. The reasoning is that the main mission of the CAF is to defend Canada against external threats and that, in a context of acute recruitment challenges, our armed forces will have to review their priorities and minimize their involvement in certain types of operations. The CAF, however, has operational expertise (e.g. in air or maritime rescue) and resources that will ensure that it will remain an essential partner in future domestic operations.

This issue of On Track, drawing on the “Future of Domestic Operations” webinar held by the CDA Institute on June 22nd, 2023, will address the following questions:

What are the main challenges facing Canadian provinces and territories when responding to emergencies such as pandemics or natural disasters, and how can these be overcome through multi-sector cooperation?     

 How can the Canadian Armed Forces optimize their involvement in domestic emergency response without compromising their primary mission of defending Canada against external threats?         

 To what extent can the creation of a multi-sector intervention force improve the coordination and effectiveness of emergency response efforts in Canada?

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