The Canadian Armed Forces saw a spike in interest last month as the Canadian government opened up applications to all permanent residents.

According to Canadian Armed Forces spokesperson Cdr Peter Antonew, there were almost 2,400 applications from permanent residents in November alone. Fifty-three of those applications were from permanent residents in Saskatchewan. In total, there were 155 applications from Saskatchewan in November.

In October, there were 3,526 applications nationwide, prior to permanent residents being allowed to apply. Previously, only Canadian citizens were allowed to apply.

"We believe it's a combination of that announcement (permanent residents) plus maybe the advertising campaigns that we're doing, or maybe some people have a feeling to want to serve Canada after the summer," Antonew said. "It's difficult for us to actually attribute it to one thing, that's for sure."

Antonew added that the application process has different stages.

"When somebody applies, they have to do an aptitude test," he said. "They get a medical, they get an interview, and there's a security screening background check on every individual."

He said that generally speaking, one in three people get accepted.

"We find that once people start the recruiting process after the aptitude test, it's normally about a three to one ratio of applicants to enrolees for various reasons," Antonew said.

The Canadian Armed Forces also provided enrolment numbers for the last five years:

  • 2021-2022 (April 1 to March 31): 4,778
  • 2020-2021: 2,023 
  • 2019-2020: 5,167
  • 2018-19: 5,143
  • 2017-18: 5,033

There was a dip in the numbers in 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So far in the 2022-2023 recruiting year, there have been 2,805 enrolees.

In the last five years, applications were actually highest in the 2020-2021 COVID-19 year, with 45,626 people applying to the armed forces from across Canada.

The Saskatchewan numbers look like this:

  • 2022-2023 to date: 651 applications / 82 enrolments
  • 2021-2022: 965 applications / 80 enrolments
  • 2020-2021: 1,172 applications / 37 enrolments
  • 2019-2020: 990 applications / 87 enrolments
  • 2018-2019: 981 applications / 79 enrolments

From April 1 to Dec. 12 of 2022, Saskatchewan residents have made up for about 3 per cent of all armed forces enrolments, which is significantly higher than the previous four years, which averages around 1.7 per cent.

In general, for both Saskatchewan and Canada, the numbers show that applications were up during the pandemic, but enrolments were down significantly.

Antonew said opening up the armed forces to permanent residents allows for it to become more well-rounded while giving new people new opportunities.

"There's a need for people in the Canadian Armed Forces, and trying to have the Canadian Armed Forces reflect Canadian society I think has given us an opportunity to look closer at the skill set and the contributions that permanent residents can make to the Canadian Armed Forces," he said.

"Hopefully it will increase and bolster the ranks of the Canadian Armed forces with those talented and motivated individuals who want to serve the Canadian Armed Forces and Canada."