Canada’s defence spending will see an increase of more than 70 per cent over the next decade, announced Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan as he unveiled the much-awaited new defence policy on Wednesday.
The government’s new defence policy plans to increase defence spending from $18.9 billion in 2016/2017 to $32.7 billion in 2026/2027.
“Strong, Secure, Engaged is fully costed, and it’s fully funded. It is a sign of the Government of Canada’s commitment to providing our women and men in uniform with the care and equipment that they need, and it places the Canadian Armed Forces on a solid footing going forward. I’m confident that these investments will have a direct, positive impact on our members and their families,” said Minister Sajjan, who unveiled the plan with Transport Minister Marc Garneau during a press conference Wednesday.
The policy was revealed a day after Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, stressed the need to invest more in Canada’s defence budget. This sentiment was echoed by Minister Sajjan on Wednesday who stated that the military was an indispensable tool for Canada’s foreign policy.
"If we are serious about Canada's role in the world, then we have to be serious about funding our military," commented Sajjan.
Dubbed “Canada’s most rigorously costed defence policy in history,” the policy will still not have Canada spend 2 per cent of its GDP on defence, a demand that U.S. President Donald Trump recently made of its NATO allies. Instead, Canada’s defence spending will be at 1.4 per cent by 2026.
The new equipment outlined in the policy for all three elements of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) include:
- Replacing the CF-18 Fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft;
- Replacing the CC-150 Polaris, CC-138 Twin Otter and CP-140 Aurora aircraft;
- Purchasing 15 Canadian Surface Combatants for the Royal Canadian Navy;
- Adding five to six Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships;
- Two Joint Support Ships;
- Improving land capabilities through ground-based air defence, combat support vehicles, heavy logistics vehicles and training simulators;
- Upgrade to the light armoured vehicle fleet.
- The policy also aims to boost the size of the CAF by 5,000: 2,500 Regular Force soldiers and 1,500 Reserve Force and aims to increase the civilian workforce by 1,150. Canada’s new defence policy will also add 120 new military intelligence positions and up to 180 new civilian intelligence positions.
The government’s new defence policy also takes into account changing technologies and cyberspace by creating a new CAF Cyber Operator position and investing in drone technology.
“Technology, and the changing nature of conflict itself, has fundamentally altered the landscape on which we operate. That rapid change will continue so we must be more agile than in the past,” noted Sajjan.
The defence policy also touches on peacekeeping missions and the capacity to deploy on several simultaneous international missions.
“This policy directs the Canadian Armed Forces to be ready for simultaneous operations where we will show leadership on a variety of combat operations, peace support operations and humanitarian missions at home and abroad. This means we could be called upon to operate and sustain two or more theatres of operation for both long and short periods of time conducting operations in support of the UN, alliances or coalition. All planning, force generation, and resource allocation from this day forward will ensure that the expected operational outputs are available to be employed on operations,” said Gen. Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff.
Minister Sajjan also announced a new program, Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security, that would invest $1.6 billion over the next 20 years to research ways to modernize the way National Defence generates solutions through new cooperative partnerships with the private sector, universities, and academics.
Canada’s new defence policy looks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from 2005 levels by 2040, excluding military fleets.
Caring for Canada’s soldiers and their families
The government’s new defence policy makes provisions for improving care and support provided to both CAF members and their families.
The government will invest $198.2 million into implementing a new Total Health and Wellness Strategy that is aimed at going beyond the traditional healthcare model to provide prevention, treatment, and support for CAF members’ physical and mental wellbeing.
“Strong, Secure, Engaged recognizes that the women and men in uniform are the Canadian Armed Forces’ most important capability. With significant investments in care for personnel and families, equipment and training, and new capabilities, Canada’s new defence policy supports CAF members’ dedication and role in making Canada strong at home, secure in North America, and engaged in the world,” said Minister Sajjan.
A 1,200 person CAF Transition Group will also be created to assist in the transition process, and the minister promised no CAF member would be released until VAC services have been put-in-place.
A new Personnel Administration Branch and exemption from federal taxes for international named operations are also amongst the policies aimed at supporting CAF members.
“A team is only as strong as the people within it. Personalizing our approach to how we care for and value you and your families will make the Canadian Armed Forces a more effective force; more flexible, more combat-ready, and able to respond quickly and decisively to any threat or situation, anywhere and at any time. This is the Canadian Armed Forces of the future,” said Gen. Vance.
The policy also takes in to consideration the Military Family Resource Centres’ petition to recognize families in the new defence policy. The government has pledged $6 million a year to modernize family support programs such as MFRCs with an overall commitment of $148 million.
MFRC will also house special teams to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
The CDS Responds
Chief of the Defence, Gen. Jonathan Vance, released a special message today for Canadian soldiers detailing the significance of the new defence policy.
“As members of the Canadian Armed Forces, your job is now to build a force that will meet this intent. And over the coming weeks, your chain of command will communicate with you to help you understand what this new policy means for each of you and your families. For now, I will offer a few overarching observations.
“Your primary mission is unchanged: you must stand ready to defend Canada and Canadians. You belong to an agile operational force that can and will be called upon to respond to emergencies at home, and to face and defeat modern threats around the world. Achieving this mission means we must be ready to operate in multiple theatres at any given time,” said the CDS.
In his statement, the CDS advised CAF members to educate themselves about today’s announcement.
“This policy will affect you for years to come. I want you to educate yourself on its content and meaning and seek advice from your leadership as needed,” said Gen. Vance.