Defence commitments in 2022 Budget

KEN POLE  –  Apr 7, 2022

Eight million dollars in new defence spending, spread over the next five years atop what they projected in their June 2017 Strong, Secure, Engaged policy paper, is the Liberals’ latest pledge to better equip the Canadian Armed Forces for an increasingly complicated global environment.

The 2017 policy paper, described at the time as “the most rigorously costed Canadian defence policy ever developed”, projected an increase in spending to $32.7 billion in 2026-2027 from $18.9 billion in 2016-2017.

“We are making an immediate, additional investment in our armed forces, and propose a swift defence policy review to equip Canada for a world that has become more dangerous,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said today in tabling the latest federal budget in her dual role as Finance Minister. “This budget will help provide the fiscal and the physical firepower we need to meet any threat that may rise.”

The “review” she mentioned is to include an assessment of equipment and technology the CAF needs to function in what the government describes as “a world that has fundamentally changed in the face of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine."

Freeland told the House of Commons that the “barbaric” invasion has “reinforced our government’s deepest conviction […] that the strength of a country does not come solely from the vastness of the reserves of its central bank, or from the size of the force in its garrisons.” While those are important, “they matter less than democracy itself” and that the Russians can and would be defeated “by a people who are united and free.”

To that end, the government announced an additional $500 million in military aid and further support, including up to $1 million in new loan resources, for Ukraine through a dedicated International Monetary Fund account.

“[Ukranians] are fighting our fight – a fight for democracy – it is in our urgent national interest to ensure that they have the missiles and the money they need to win,” she said. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also reminded us that our own peaceful democracy – like all the democracies of the world – depends ultimately on the hard power of defence. The world’s dictators should never mistake our civility for pacifism. We know that freedom does not come for free, and that peace is guaranteed only by our readiness to fight for it.”

The “review” Freeland mentioned will update "Strong, Secure, Engaged" by focusing on “the size and capabilities of the Canadian Armed Forces, its roles and responsibilities, and making sure it has the resources required to both keep Canadians safe and contribute to operations around the world.” These would include “immediate additional investments in defence priorities, including our continental defences, alliances and collective security.

Freeland said that the international community is strongest when it acts in concert. She cited that one of Canada’s ongoing actions on that front is the remaining $160 million of a five-year commitment to help modernize the North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) and sustain existing continental and Arctic defence capabilities.The budget document says “Canada is resolute in our defence of the North American continent, especially in the far North” and describes NORAD as a “crucial” partnership. A five-year commitment of $252.2 million in the 2021 budget had “laid the groundwork for NORAD’s future” and set the stage for a joint Canada-U.S. statement of priorities in modernizing continental defence. The government is considering options for fulfilling that commitment by investing in, among other things, advanced all-domain surveillance and intelligence as well as new command, control, and communications capabilities, and improved deterrence capabilities.

As for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), where Canada and many other members of the 30-country alliance have been under U.S.-driven pressure to increase defence spending to 2% of their national gross domestic product, the budget document avoids the GDP target, saying Canada “remains steadfast” in supporting the alliance, including through assurance and deterrence operations in Central and Eastern Europe.

The latter includes multi-year renewal of Operation Reassurance, the latest development being up to 460 more CAF personnel for a total of some 1,260. A further 3,400 are available to the NATO Response Force if required.

“Budget 2021 previously announced $847.1 million over five years to increase Canada’s contributions to NATO,” the 2022 document states. “But we recognize that more needs to be done. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies means sharing the burden of defending democracy against authoritarianism.”

Looking inward, the budget addressed the CAF’s internal struggle with an array of embarrassing ethical and moral issues, including sexual assault, harassment and discrimination. Citing a formal apology last December by Defence Minister Anita Anand, then Deputy Minister Jody Thomas, and the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Ayre, the government said “those who serve Canada with our flag on their shoulder contend with enough risks to their safety; their workplace should not be one of them.”

The budget includes $100.5 million over six years, starting in 2021-2222, with $1.7 million in remaining amortization, and $16.8 M ongoing to strengthen CAF leadership, modernize the military justice system, implement a Declaration of Victims Rights as set out in the National Defence Act, engage and consult on fundament culture change, and to improve “restorative” services such as dispute resolution.

The budget also proposes $144.3 million over five years, starting in 2022-2023, and $31.6 million ongoing, to expand CAF health services and fitness programs “to be more responsive to women and gender-diverse military personnel.” This builds on the previous budget’s $236.2 million over five years, starting in 2021-2022, and $33.5 M ongoing for the Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) to support efforts to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence.

Cyber security programs run by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), building on 2018’s action plan to implement the country’s first comprehensive National Cyber Security Strategy, are scheduled to see $875.2 million spent over five years, beginning in 2022-2023, and $238.2 M ongoing, for additional measures to address this rapidly evolving threat. “As Canadians grow more dependent on digital systems, the potential consequences of cyber incidents continue to increase,” the government says.

The renewed five-year commitments to CSE includes $263.9 M to enhance its abilities to launch cyber prevention and defensive operations, $180.3 million to prevent and respond to attacks on critical infrastructure, followed by $40.6 M ongoing, $178.7 M to expand security for small government departments, agencies and Crown corporations, with $39.5 M ongoing, and $252.3 million to make critical government systems more resilient to cyber incidents, and $61.7 M ongoing.

“Canadian academics are some of the leading researchers in important emerging and disruptive technologies, including quantum computing and artificial intelligence,” the government asserts, explaining that this resource can be “leveraged” to ensure Canada stays a step ahead of adversaries.

CSE will receive $17.7 million over five years, starting in 2022-2023, with $5.5 M thereafter until 2031-2032, to establish a “unique” research chair program to fund academics to conduct research relevant to its activities, splitting time between peer-reviewed publishable research and classified research within CSE.

Ken Pole is a contributing editor at FrontLine Magazines