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A military contingent is expected to be in position today to decide where to deploy eight critical care nurses who will help Alberta fight COVID-19.

Public Safety Canada says the Canadian Red Cross is also planning to send up to 20 medical professionals, some with intensive care experience, to augment or relieve staff working in Alberta's hospitals.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canadian Armed Forces members will use their experience to help Alberta battle the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Operation LASER is the Canadian Armed Forces’ response to COVID-19.

Sajjan says that since the beginning of the pandemic, the military has responded to more than 65 requests for assistance from provincial or federal partners.

Newfoundland and Labrador is also sending a medical team of five or six intensive care staff to work in Alberta's northern oil hub city of Fort McMurray.

Alberta's health delivery agency has seen over 1,000 new daily COVID-19 cases for weeks, and has had to scramble and reassign staff to handle the surge of intensive care patients.

Premier Jason Kenney announced last week that his government was finalizing the deal for outside support from the military.

“I know that Alberta health-care workers will be grateful for the helping hand and that all Albertans are thankful for any assistance at this challenging time,” Kenney said Thursday in Calgary.

Defence minister says Operation LASER nurses will help #Alberta battle #COVID. #Covid19 #CDNPoli #Abpoli #CAF

Some of those health-care workers have called on Kenney to do more.

Intensive care physicians, emergency ward doctors, the executive of the Alberta Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association have called for a swift lockdown to reverse the tide of COVID-19 patients.

Kenney has said he wants to see if recent health measures including a mask mandate, gathering restrictions and a form of vaccine passport boost vaccination rates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.