Canadian armed forces to help in Caribbean disasters

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

CDEMA executive director Elizabeth Riley. – Photo courtesy CDEMA

The Canadian High Commission has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) which will allow its armed forces to assist during disasters in the region.

A CDEMA release said its executive director Elizabeth Riley and Lilian Chatterjee, Canada’s High Commissioner to Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines signed the MOU.

It outlines the process for CDEMA to ask for support from the Canadian armed forces for response teams and equipment to assist an affected CDEMA participating state in the event of a disaster.

All Caricom and non-Caricom member states of the Caribbean are eligible for CDEMA membership.

The release said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first announced this at the Canada-Caricom Summit in Ottawa in October, when the Canada-Caricom Strategic Partnership was launched.

Riley was grateful to the government of Canada for its support and commitment to bolstering disaster-risk management in the region.

“This MOU is timely, given the complex multi-hazard realities of this region and the forecast for the 2024 Atlantic basin hurricane season of 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes and five major hurricanes,” she said.

“In times of crisis, Canada has consistently proven its reliability in supporting CDEMA’s efforts, whether through the provision of pledged airport specialist support, financial support, providing logistical support during the challenging period of covid19 or aiding in early recovery efforts through initiatives like the Caribbean Early Recovery Fund.”

High commissioner Chatterjee said Canada has a long history of supporting its Caribbean neighbours and partners in times of disaster.

“However, as the severity of the hazard increases, so does the complexity of the response operation. We are delighted that Canada, through its armed forces, will be able to provide timely support to our friends at CDEMA – and by extension to the people of the Caribbean – when they need it most.”

The release said the MOU complements Canada’s partnership with CDEMA.

This is in addition to the CAD$8 million support to CDEMA which has been used to strengthen its ability to respond to disasters through training, providing emergency communication equipment, and developing operational procedures.

CDEMA member states:

Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Virgin Islands.