Operation LENTUS

Summary

  • Operation LENTUS is the Canadian Armed Forces standing operation to provide assistance and respond to natural disasters through relief operations in Canada.
  • First respondents to domestic natural disasters are provincial and territorial authorities, however, in the event that they have exhausted all other provincial or territorial capabilities they may submit a request for assistance to the federal government.
  • On many occasions, the requests for assistance submitted from provincial and territorial authorities to the federal government seek capabilities that are unique to the Canadian Armed Forces.

Background

  • In extreme situations, when the response capacity of provincial and territorial authorities are overwhelmed, the Canadian Armed Forces stands ready to provide an immediate response to requests for assistance.
  • Operation LENTUS includes domestic Canadian Armed Forces humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Operation LENTUS is based on a contingency plan and is the Canadian Armed Forces contribution to civil authorities during domestic disaster and relief operations, such as floods and wildfires.
  • In 2019, the Canadian Armed Forces have already deployed on several occasions under Operation LENTUS.
    • From 19 April to 5 June, Canadian Armed Forces personnel and equipment deployed to New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario to assist with flood relief.
    • From 30 May to 10 June, the Canadian Armed Forces supported the evacuations of vulnerable members of the Pikangikum First Nation community in Northwestern Ontario due to significant smoke drifting into the community from nearby wildfires.
    • From 31 May to 13 June, the Canadian Armed Forces provided assistance to the Province of Alberta for the serious wildfire situation that threatened the lives and property of thousands of Canadians.

Considerations

  • If faced with a natural disaster, provincial and territorial authorities that have exhausted all local resources and options will usually submit a request for assistance to the Government of Canada for federal assistance.
  • Upon consultation between the Government Operations Centre at Public Safety Canada and provincial and/or territorial authorities, the Minister of Public Safety may forward a request to the Minister of National Defence for Canadian Armed Forces assistance, pursuant to section 273.6(1) of the National Defence Act.
  • In accordance with Canada’s defence policy, Strong Secure Engaged, the Canadian Armed Forces must be ready to provide an immediate response to a request for assistance during any crisis in Canada, such as natural disasters. Helping Canadians in distress is a ‘no fail’ mission for the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • The number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel and equipment deployed on Operation LENTUS takes into consideration the scale of the natural disaster or emergency and the support requested by provincial and/or territorial authorities.
  • In recent years, there has been anywhere from 60 to 2,600 members deployed under Operation LENTUS. The operation could also include ships, vehicles, aircraft, and a variety of specialized equipment.
  • Between 2010 and 2016, the Canadian Armed Forces provided provincial and territorial authorities assistance once or twice annually through Operation LENTUS. In contrast, 2017 and 2018 each saw six Operation LENTUS deployments. In 2019, the Canadian Armed Forces has completed three Operation LENTUS deployments, including a major flood response. This has raised concerns among climate experts, who attributed the rapid temperature increases and variations in precipitation that led to the floods to climate change. These realities have already imposed added stress on Canadian Armed Forces resources, which will likely be called upon even more frequently and with less notice to assist with humanitarian and disaster responses.
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