Minister of National Defence, Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, participates in Rīga Conference 2020

News release

November 13, 2020 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today, the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, virtually participated in the Rīga Conference 2020. The Minister took part in a panel discussion on burden sharing, the consequences of COVID-19 for defence, and outlined the importance of NATO transatlantic unity for the safety and security of Canada and our allies during this pandemic.

In discussions with his co-panelists, the defence ministers Mr. Jüri Luik from Estonia, Dr. Artis Pabriks from Latvia, and the Rt Hon Ben Wallace from the United Kingdom, Minister Sajjan also stressed the important role defence investment can play in economic recovery. Additionally, the panel discussed how NATO members needed to stand united and move forward cohesively in order to combat the worst effects of the pandemic. Minister Sajjan highlighted the importance of integrating the concept of resilience in our national and collective defence approaches, allowing Canada and its NATO Allies to help overcome complex challenges, such as COVID-19

Minister Sajjan also discussed Canada’s whole-of-government approach to our pandemic response and highlighted the key supporting role the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have played in that effort, such as the role the CAF played in long-term care facilities.

NATO is central to Canada’s international security policy, reflecting the values of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law. The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer to the ever-changing security environment and underscored the importance of ensuring a strong and resilient Alliance in order to collectively address traditional and emerging threats to stability and peace.


“NATO is strongest when we stand together in solidary to support each other. In the face of the pandemic, transatlantic unity is key to the safety and security of Canada and our NATO Allies. This is why Canada continues to balance critical needs at home, and helping our partners and allies around the world with supplies and expertise when requested. ”

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

Quick facts

  • The CAF continues to work closely with federal, provincial, and territorial partners to align the provision of possible CAF military support and related capabilities with the overall Government COVID-19 response.

  • From April to June, the CAF supported 54 long term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec. This included medical and support personnel who worked directly on-site as well as providing off-site support including planning, liaison, general duty chores, and delivering personal protective equipment.

  • Canada has committed over $850 million Canadian dollars toward the global COVID-19 response, including help for NATO Allies Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, and many NATO Partners as well.

  • Through Canada’s Operation GLOBE, CAF transported 82 500 kgs of COVID-19 related medical and humanitarian supplies supporting the United Nation’s the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization to multiple countries in the Caribbean and the Americas. Also, the CAF assisted Government of Canada efforts to repatriate and temporarily accommodate approximately 700 Canadians from countries affected by COVID-19.

  • Canada has made an additional $1 billion dollars available for International Monetary Fund loans related to the pandemic.

  • Canada is committed to providing direct support to NATO missions. The CAF has taken measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on operations and to protect its force in order to maintain this support.

  • At present, Canada is:

    • Leading the multinational NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia since 2017. The Battle Group currently consists of 540 CAF members;
    • Deploying CF-18 fighter aircraft to conduct NATO surveillance and air policing activities in Europe for the 5th time. This mission currently encompasses approximately 135 CAF members;
    • Deploying HMCS Toronto with her crew of approximately 240 personnel as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group One; and
    • Commanding NATO Mission Iraq for the second consecutive second year, which is currently led by Major-General Jennie Carignan. The CAF has approximately 150 members deployed on this mission.
  • The Rīga Conference is an annual meeting of regional and international experts in foreign policy and defence, academics, journalists, and business representatives, promoting the discussion and assessment of issues affecting the transatlantic community.

Associated links


Floriane Bonneville
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-3100

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

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