Mr. Speaker, the health and well-being of Canadian Armed Forces members has always been our main priority. That is why our defence policy of “Strong, Secure, Engaged” provides clear direction on our defence priorities, with a 20-year horizon. That is something no government has ever done before. In fact, chapter 1 of our policy spelled out our desire for well-supported, diverse, resilient people and families. People are at the core of everything the Canadian Armed Forces does to deliver on its mandate.
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been taking concrete steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our members, regardless of their location. We scaled down exercises and training, we increased the number of people working from home and we adopted robust public health measures to mitigate risks.
The safety and well-being of our members is a top priority, and we continue to do everything we can to ensure their protection as we follow expert advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada. We are taking all necessary precautions, but the work of Canadian Armed Forces members at home and abroad cannot stop. They must continue their important missions to be strong at home, secure in North America and engaged in the world.
The Canadian Armed Forces is supporting Canada's response to COVID-19 and vaccine distribution efforts. At the same time, the Canadian Armed Forces must be ready to respond to natural disasters and other activities necessary for the defence of Canada and its interests. Training and recruitment have resumed, with strict measures in place to keep people safe, and the CAF continues with key operations, such as search and rescue, NORAD and support to UN and NATO efforts.
In January, members of the Canadian Armed Forces started getting vaccinated. We started with the members who were working in high-risk clinical settings and the members with health conditions that put them at higher risk.
The Canadian Armed Forces are responsible for ensuring that their members are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where they are posted. Although members who are deployed or stationed abroad have not all been vaccinated, efforts are well under way to develop a coordinated plan and ensure that we have the resources to reach every single member who is deployed or posted overseas.
We have started vaccinating members deployed as part of Operation Impact in the Middle East, Operation Reassurance in Latvia and Operation Unifier in Ukraine. Members of the military who are preparing for deployment as part of an operation will start getting their vaccines in the coming weeks.
We continue to follow pre- and post-deployment COVID-19 protocols and rigorously apply COVID-19 public health measures, and we are abiding by the rules, regulations and restrictions applicable to the locations where CAF members are deployed or stationed.
We must protect the health and well-being of our people while ensuring operational readiness, and we must continue to be a reliable ally and partner on the world stage.