Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin will lead the nation's vaccine distribution efforts.

Fortin most recently served as the chief of staff for the Canadian Joint Operations Command.

Trudeau revealed the plan at a press conference from his home in Ottawa.

He said the Canadian Armed Forces will assist in the vaccine rollout with cold storage requirements, data sharing, and reaching Indigenous communities.

The announcement follows days of criticism over his government's vaccination strategy and uncertainty over the timeline of when Canadians might have access to a vaccine.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Thursday that priority groups should start receiving vaccine doses early next year.

Ottawa has finalized agreements with five vaccine makers and is in advanced negotiations with two more.

The deals would secure 194 million doses with the option to buy another 220 million.

Fortin's appointment comes amid more alarming daily COVID-19 case numbers from Ontario, which reported 1,855 new cases Friday, and 20 more deaths.

Quebec reported 1,269 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked virus, including nine that occurred in the past 24 hours.

Nunavut announced four new cases of COVID-19.