Budget 2003 supports Canada's social and economic agenda while continuing to maintain balanced budgets. Key features of the budget include significant investments in health care, families, research and development, learning, and Canada's military; tax reductions to encourage savings and investment; and new measures to make government spending more accountable.
This budget takes steps toward building a society that Canadians value, the economy Canadians need and the accountability Canadians deserve.
The Department of National Defence (DND) plays a crucial role in supporting this approach. Defence and security are core functions of government and our prosperity and well-being as a country depend on international stability. We have an obligation and responsibility to protect public safety and security, defend Canadian sovereignty, and contribute to international peace and security. To ensure Canada remains a voice for peace and progress in the world, Budget 2003 provides additional funding for Canada's military and increases our international aid commitments.
Strengthening Canada's Military Last fall, DND completed a Defence Update to assess Canada's defence program to ensure it is affordable, sustainable and effectively structured to carry out defence missions and to protect and promote Canadian interests. After assessing the results, the Minister provided his recommendations to Cabinet.
In addition, the Minister, the Chief of Defence Staff, leading Parliamentarians, Canadian defence experts, and the Canadian public made it clear that the status quo for the military and the broader defence establishment is not sustainable and action is needed now. The Government has listened and is taking action with the largest single increase in DND funding in a decade.
Budget 2003 provides the Department of National Defence with $1.6 billion in new funding over the next two fiscal years and will be sustained at $800 million thereafter. This funding will help the Department to addresses the military's sustainability gap and help stabilize the Canadian Forces. In addition, the Government has renewed its commitment to reassess the future needs of Defence following a review of Canada's foreign and defence policy.
With this new money, the Canadian Forces can focus on the future. The new money will help the Canadian Forces:
--Continue to support ongoing recruiting and training programs; --Re-stock spare parts and ease pressure on Defence's budget for operational support; --Support and enhance Canada's Reserves; --Buy new equipment and modernize capabilities in selected areas; --Address pressing infrastructure maintenance and replacement needs; and --Ease pressure on Canada's navy, army, and air force operations both at home and abroad.
Budget 2003 also provides the military with an additional $170 million this fiscal year for urgent capital requirements, the maintenance of existing capital equipment, spare parts, the purchase of new capital and other equipment.
The funding increases, taken together with the Minister's recent commitment to finding annual savings of at least $200 million within DND will help stabilize the Canadian Forces. These savings will be reallocated to high priority initiatives and is consistent with the Government's emphasis on ensuring that federal departments are providing Canadians with the best value for money.
Meeting Canada's International Security Responsibilities Canada continues to be a major contributor to the campaign against terrorism through Operation APOLLO. To continue this support, the budget provides an additional $100 million in 2002-03 to cover additional operational costs to date. This is in addition to the $185 million received in 2001-2002 and $110 million earlier in 2002-03 to support the Canadian Forces in the coalition against terrorism during Operation APOLLO. Altogether, this $395 million covers the incremental costs thus far of Canada's participation in Operation APOLLO.
In addition, on February 12, 2003, the Minister of National Defence indicated to Parliament that Canada is willing and able to once again send troops to Afghanistan, this time as part of the United Nations mandated mission to maintain peace and security in that country. Given this commitment, and the current climate of increasing global uncertainty, this budget establishes a $125 million reserve for contingencies in 2002-03 and $200 million in 2003-04.
The new funding provided to National Defence in Budget 2003 will help to stabilize the Canadian Forces and help continue Canada's commitment to the international war on terrorism. Budget 2003 and the Department of National Defence