Home News Canadian forces spending under fire

Canadian forces spending under fire

by Archives November 13, 2007

With the Canadian Forces increasingly involved in both conflict and development within Afghanistan, a new report suggests that Canada’s spending on military issues has increased to levels not seen since World War 2.
If this amount seems steep, just wait. The CCPA goes on to note that the current level of military spending is potentially only the beginning: “According to a copy of a document called Canada First Defence Strategy . . . DND is seeking an increase in spending to between $26.9 billion and $36.6 billion by 2025. At the high end, this would represent a doubling of the current level of defence spending in real figures.”
Highlighting Canadian government defense spending increases since 2005, the report, “More than the Cold War”, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), notes that by 2010, total military expenditures are projected to climb to more than $19.4 billion per year. This amount, more than 20 per cent above its current level of $16.2 billion, would be even greater than Canada’s Cold War spending peak in 1953.
Although critics have argued that the funding provides tacit support to a war that not all Canadian support, many supporters of the military have lauded the department’s funding increases, arguing that they are necessary to offset the decade of under-funding that followed the end of the Cold War.
In the period after 1992, the Canadian military was subject to a string of budget cuts that, by 2003, reduced it spending as a share of GDP to barely 1 per cent, down from its 1956 high of 6 per cent. During this period, the CF was obliged to halt repairs and maintenance on much of its equipment and infrastructure in order to meet basic salary requirements.
As a result, since Canadian forces were first committed to a major role in Afghanistan in 2003, they have been obliged to rent aircraft or borrow them from the Americans in order to transport required goods throughout the country.
The low-point for the Canadian Forces came in February of that same year, when a Sea King helicopter crashed into the deck of the HMCS Iroquois during an attempt at takeoff. Nearly forty years-old, the Sea Kings had been all-but grounded due to faulty machinery and a lack of spare equipment. In addition to forcing the Iroquois to return to port (and preventing it from taking leadership over an international mission), the crash served to further undermine confidence in the Canadian Forces, and to highlight the sad state of disrepair into which the Canadian Forces had been allowed to slip.
Since the degree of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan became clear in 2005, however, the CF has seen significant increases in its budgets from both Liberal and Conservative governments, and has assigned vast sums of money to expand its recruiting drives throughout the country.
In 2005, then-leader of the Liberal Party, Paul Martin, set out to increase spending on the military by more than $12.8 billion over 5 years. While most of this money was directed toward the purchase of vehicles (including trucks and helicopters) and providing servicing and upgrades for existing infrastructure, enough money was set aside to increase the number of regular force members by 5,000. For its part, the Conservatives’ budget in 2006, set aside an additional $5.6 billion on top of the promised Liberal increases, and was designed to increase the personnel strength of the CF regular force by an additional 13,000.
Despite these increases in recruitment spending, however, the funds have not translated into new soldiers. According to the Department of National Defence’s Departmental Performance Report for 2006-2007, while recruitment has gone up, it has been largely offset by increased retirement among existing regular force members, leaving the Regular Forces with 63,744, an increase of only 3,700 since early 2005.
Although members of the Regular Forces were unwilling to speak on the record, many privately conceded that attrition and early retirements were expected to worsen throughout the CF, as a result of low wages and long overseas commitments.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment