Supplementary Estimates B 2019-20 – Appearance Before the House Standing Committee on National Defense

Appearance Overview

Copy of the Minister of National Defence’s Opening Remarks

Speaking Notes for:

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan
Minister of National Defence

NDDN:
Supplementary Estimates B

Ottawa, Ontario
March 11, 2020

 

Madam Chair,
Members of the Standing Committee.
Good afternoon.

I am joined by:

  • Deputy Minister of National Defence, Jody Thomas,
  • Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier,
  • Mrs. Shelly Bruce, Chief, Communications Security Establishment,
  • Chief Financial Officer, Cheri Crosby,
  • Mr. Troy Crosby, Assistant Deputy Minister Materiel, and
  • Mr. Rob Chambers, Assistant Deputy Minister Infrastructure and Environment.

I want to take a brief moment to thank Lieutenant-General Lanthier for his more than 31 years of service.

Thank you for the opportunity to present the Supplementary Estimates B for the Department of National Defence and the Communications Security Establishment.

Our allies and partners, and Canadians know the Defence team is always there, ready to answer the call, at any given moment.

Our Canadian Armed Forces assisted with record snowfall in Newfoundland as well as wildfires in Australia…

They helped bring Canadians home safely from China and elsewhere, and as they mobilised to establish a safe and comfortable quarantine space at CFB Trenton in face of the Covid-19.

And that is just in the first two months of the year.

These events all underscore the need for a strong and agile defence team.

And it is our job to make sure that team has the support they need to be effective.

That is why my number one priority has always been to look after the women and men of our defence team and their families.

Two and a half years into Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, we are moving forward with our plan to support our people so they can do the challenging jobs we ask of them.

Through these Estimates, we are requesting approximately $796.9 million to continue implementing SSE.

 

Care For People - Class Actions [148.6 M And 26m]

The majority of that funding relates directly to the care of our people.

We take our responsibility to care for our members and their families seriously.

That is why we stood up the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group to support ill and injured CAF members and ease transition for members, veterans and their families.

We also enhanced tax relief for CAF members on deployed international operations — to recognize them for their hard work and to ease some of the stress for them and their families.

Our Reservists also form a critical part of our defence team.

They help with flood relief efforts and fighting wildfires.

And they do all of this — often while maintaining a career outside of the military. They deserve our full support.

That is why we made sure Reservists take home the same day’s pay for the same day’s work as their Regular Forces colleagues.

We also recognize how challenging it can be for the families that serve alongside our members. It is one of the reasons that we are working through Seamless Canada with provinces and territories to make relocations easier.

And we are helping give military spouses dedicated access to jobs with national employers in the private and public sectors through the Military Spousal Employment Network.

All the while, we are focused on changing the Defence team culture to make the organization more welcoming, equitable, and reflective of the Canadians we serve

That is why we apply a Gender Based Analysis Plus lens during the development of our programs and policies to enhance our capabilities and make us more responsive to the needs of our workforce — and the people we are called upon to protect.

And it is why we are working hard to recruit more women into our Forces.

Since 2015, we’ve increased women enrollment in the Reserve Force by 110%, and by 72% in the Regular Force.

Women now make up 15.9 % of CAF members.

And in NATO, where the average is 11%, Canadian women are taking on important leadership roles.

But there is more work to do but we will not waiver in our commitment to success.

Part of that work also means recognizing that the CAF has not always been a welcoming and safe environment for everyone.

These estimates include $148.6 million for Defence team members who were victims of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

We hope that this settlement will help bring the survivors closure and healing. 

And we continue to work towards a respectful work culture that is free from harassment and discrimination.

The Department is also working with other government partners to implement the Final Settlement Agreement of the LGBT Purge Class action lawsuit.

We have evolved our military justice system to better deal with harmful behaviours through Bill C-77, which received royal assent last summer.

And we will not stop until all of our members feel valued, cared for, and supported.

 

Capital Investments: $490.8 M

Madam Chair, taking care of our people also means equipping them do their jobs.

SSE provides the roadmap and carves the funding out of our fiscal framework to allow us to do this.

And we have already completed or started more than two-thirds of the projects it outlines.

These projects not only ensure the Defence team is ready to meet modern security demands, but have a significant impact on the Canadian economy.

Take the Joint Support Ships for example.

To date, under that project we have awarded contracts that contribute close to $950 million dollars to Canada’s GDP, and this maintains close to 740 jobs annually.

And we have selected the design of our new Canadian Surface Combatants…

Modernized our Halifax Class Frigates…

And launched the second of six new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships for our Navy.

Through these estimates, we are requesting $490.8 million to advance many more capital projects such as:

- Upgrading capabilities on helicopters, ships, planes and submarines
- Procuring new surveillance capabilities through satellite and space-based technologies.
- And modernizing equipment, facilities and infrastructure.

 

Infrastructure

Madam Chair, our government is committed to reducing our emissions to help reduce the impact of climate change. It is why all of our Defence infrastructure projects are done with an eye toward greening defence.

We built LEED Silver standard or equivalent armouries in Halifax, Saint-Hubert and Sainte-Foy.

Investments like these have helped reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 32% from 2005 levels.

Our investments are also produce economic benefits for communities across Canada. Investments like Nanisivik Naval facility and upgrades to runways in Inuvik and Goose Bay increase access to these communities and bring economic opportunity.

And just as we partnered with Treaty One First Nations to transfer the Kapyong lands, we are working closely with Indigenous partners as we look to enhance our ability to operate in the North.

We collaborated with more than 25 Indigenous partners on the new whole-of-government Arctic and Northern Policy Framework.

And we are advancing research and development, and investing in innovation to help solve key challenges that will benefit all, including our northern and indigenous communities.

 

Arctic

And, the Canadian Rangers are our direct link to those communities.

As Canada’s eyes and ears in the North, they are instrumental in both Arctic sovereignty and search and rescue operations.

The CAF will continue to work with the Canadian Rangers to defend Canada’s rights and sovereignty…

Keep the North safe and well-defended…
And ensure the Arctic remains a region of peace and stability.

 

CSE

Madam Chair, in this ever-evolving security environment, we need every advantage to help us identify, prepare for, and defend against threats to our country.

That is why our government is committed to building on the successes of the Communications Security Establishment and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

Through these estimates, we are requesting funding transfers so that CSE will keep pace with advancements in quantum technology, and exercise new authorities to conduct cyber operations to support National Defence.

 

Operations: Op REASSURANCE and Op PRESENCE [$132.5 M]

Yet, even with all the right people, all the right resources, and all the right technology, Canada cannot tackle modern defence challenges alone.

We cannot be an island of stability in an ocean of turmoil. Eventually negative ripples will reach our shore.

That is why we are committed to being a reliable partner and good global citizen.

We continue to collaborate with our closest partner, the United States on continental defence and modernizing NORAD.

We are pleased that the Iraqi Government has reaffirmed its support for NATO’s continued presence and its training mission, which Canadian Major General Jennie Carignan proudly leads.

And through these estimates, we are requesting $132.5 million to continue supporting NATO assurance and deterrence measures.

Canada leads the battlegroup in Latvia and supports NATO air policing in Romania. We contribute to Standing NATO Maritime Groups and NATO’s high readiness force. And we rejoined the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force.

We also play an important role within the UN.

Last summer, we completed our Air Task Force deployment to the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali and we continue to maintain staff officers in support of the mission.

We also began providing a cross-mission tactical airlift support to two other UN missions as part of Operation PRESENCE in Uganda.

 

Conclusion

The funding we are requesting today will allow us to keep our people at the centre of everything we do.

Every day, they represent Canada with professionalism, leadership and excellence.

And for that, we owe them the right tools to get the job done, as well as our unwavering support and our most profound gratitude.

Madam Chair, the Defence Team is here to answer the questions that you and the Committee members may have. We are ready to answer questions. If we happen to not have the specific facts on hand, we will provide them to you at the earliest opportunity.

Thank you.