In response to the minister of public safety and solicitor general's request for Canadian Armed Forces support to assist British Columbia's work on the wildfires, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth expressed his gratitude and thanks for the Forces' agreement to help.
"This is an unprecedented emergency, and it's a welcome relief to get more boots on the ground from the Canadian Forces to support the enormous amount of provincial resources going into managing this event with the RCMP, wildfire fighters, EMBC and literally thousands of volunteers working as hard as they possibly can," said Farnworth.
"I want to thank our Canadian Government and Canadian Forces for yet again stepping up and offering their support to help during our time of need," he added.
At the request of the commanding officer, RCMP, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have been asked to assist the RCMP with some very specific duties in B.C. communities that are dealing with wildfires, such as the ground evacuation of persons in distress, delivery of essential aid such as food and supplies by land and by air, and to help the RCMP maintain road checkpoints throughout the areas affected by the fires. The Province's request for military support does not include deployments in an armed or law-enforcement capacity.
With the CAF's added support and resources, the RCMP will be able to continue their duties of protecting people, their communities and property in addition to assistance they are providing to the emergency.
"As the wildfire situation continues to evolve, the RCMP and our partner agencies are planning for the long-term sustainability of core policing duties in the province while maintaining our ability to have a timely response to emerging fire issues," said Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr, commanding officer of the BC RCMP. "The RCMP will continue to have a robust presence within evacuated and affected areas, while also overseeing the specific duties assigned to the Canadian Armed Forces."
"The Canadian Armed Forces are part of the larger Government of Canada safety and security family. Like family we help out when and where we are needed. We are proud to support our RCMP colleagues, and all of our federal and provincial partners, engaged in keeping Canadians safe during this time," said Rear Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific/Joint Task Force Pacific.
Approximately 150 CAF personnel have been deployed to Williams Lake and the surrounding area to support emergency management efforts. The additional 225 announced today brings it to a total of 375 CAF personnel deployed.