OTTAWA --- The federal government will invest billions of dollars less in new military equipment than promised this year, raising concerns about the readiness of the Canadian Forces and the prospect that Canada will fall short on another NATO spending target.
The Trudeau government in 2017 released a defence policy that included dramatic increases in the amount of money to be spent on new aircraft, ships, armoured vehicles and other military equipment each year for the next two decades.
The investments are considered vital to replacing the Canadian Forces’ aging fighter jets, ships and other equipment with state-of-the-art kit.
Yet while the government is on track to invest more in new equipment for the second year in a row, budget documents show the Defence Department will still fall short more than $2 billion on the government’s plan to spend $6.5 billion.
The government spent $2.3 billion less than planned last year, largely because of delays in projects such as the government’s huge plan to buy new warships, though also because some things ended up costing less than expected.
The department’s top civil servant, deputy minister Jody Thomas, told a House of Commons committee last week that about $700 million was because some projects came in underbudget and other “efficiencies, so we didn’t need that money.”
But Thomas acknowledged the department was to blame for some of the other underspending and industry has also faced challenges in delivering on projects – though she said it shouldn’t be a surprise there have been some problems given the number of projects under way. (end of excerpt)
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