In an address to the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, outlined to experts how the new defence policy is aimed at digging the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) from the hole they find themselves in due to years of underinvestment.
“It will be a plan to get out of the hole we are starting in, and it will be a plan to build an even stronger military.
“It will be a plan to allocate realistic funding to those “bread and butter” projects that will keep our military running efficiently and effectively for years to come.
“Most of all, it will be a plan to care for the women and men who put on the uniform,” said Minister Sajjan in his speech in Ottawa on Wed. May 3.
In his address, Sajjan pointed a finger at previous governments for cutting costs and leaving the military underfunded.
“At every stage, the take-away has been clear: Governments have not delivered predictable, sustainable, long-term funding for the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Sajjan.
After a budget increase of around $1.5 billion in 2004-2005, that grew incrementally until the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, Sajjan commented that two programs, the Strategic Review and the Deficit Reduction Action Plan, resulted in a reduced defence budget totalling a loss of $2 billion per year.
“Years of ups and downs have contributed to unpredictability for those responsible for supporting, maintaining and sustaining the Forces and planning for its future. The reductions have left the organisation hollow in a number of areas,” said Sajjan.
The Minister pointed to procurement setbacks to the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Navy and recruitment issues as the areas that have suffered because of a lack of funding.
“Years of inadequate funding have left the CAF lacking the resources they need. From the Army to the Navy to the Air Force – our women and men have not received the equipment and support they need. A prime example is our Cormorant search and rescue helicopters. These helicopters provide a vital service that Canadians rely on. Yet the previous Government did not make any provisions for the needed upcoming mid-life upgrades,” added the Minister.
Thanks to more than 20,000 submissions from Canadians, 50 town halls across the country and roundtables attended by 107 subject-area experts, Sajjan stated that the new Canadian defence policy, which is set to be released soon, “will be the most rigorously costed one ever produced.”
“Governments have a responsibility to care for their militaries, resource them properly, and fund them in a responsible way that meets their needs. Canada’s new defence policy will be a plan to build an even stronger military. Most of all, it will be a plan to care for the women and men who put on the uniform. It will be a plan to care for their families. I look forward to doing right – now and for the long-term – by those who defend Canada, our people, and our way of life,” said Sajjan.