Let me just give you some data on recent operations.
There were 31 domestic operations from 2010 to 2020, including assistance activity for 23 operations. The number of and types of troops assigned for 29 of them, and the duration for 23 of them show the following patterns. The frequency of these operations is increasing, but the majority of these were relatively minor, they required fewer than 100 CAF personnel, and 16 out of 23 operations for which information is available were relatively short, so less than a fortnight in duration. While the size of operations has increased recently, post-2000s, floods have required call-outs of about 2,500 CAF personnel, whereas the 1997 Red River floods required 8,000 personnel, and the 1998 eastern Canada ice storm required 12,000 personnel.
The real critical point to get to is aviation transport, and of course, our colleagues have already flagged that. The evacuation of communities, airlifting supplies and personnel is in high demand. There has been some demand for specialists, such as engineers, and a great demand for general labour. However disruptive these operations might be, by and large, these are operations that should be within the capabilities of the CAF.
As the chief of the defence staff pointed out in his remarks before the committee, the CAF now builds this into its training and incidents operational cycles. What is disruptive is the size of the operations, and demands that are unconventional, for example, for floods and forest fires, the CAF now builds in. But the CAF, as I pointed out, had not built in a large pandemic operation of the size that it was asked to carry out. It demonstrated it could carry out that task, but it showed that with constant resources, there are very difficult trade-offs to be made.
We live, as our colleagues have pointed out, in an international security environment that is likely going to require more capacity and more demands, simply operationally. We live in an environment where our allies, and our key strategic ally, the United States, are calling for allies to do more on defence, and we have a growing requirement in terms of domestic operations.
In the past, people always said that Canada was a free rider. I've argued that Canada is not a free rider, it is an easy rider. It has spent just enough on defence. The problem is that what was just enough in the past is simply not enough in light of the challenges and the demands we are facing today in terms of domestic deployments, continental defence and international demands in terms of peace, stability and security, as well as our allied commitments.