Canada is planning to spend $62 billion over next two decades to boost its armed forces' capabilities in offensive cyber-attacks and purchase of armed drones.
Though the plan also calls for the addition of 5,000 more full- and part-time troops, Defense minister Harjit Sajjan did not detail if the spike would mean increased deficit budget or reduced spending in other fields, CTV news reported Wednesday.
It is also unclear, if the Liberal government which is already staring at a deficit projected at $23 billion for 2016-17 would be able to arrange money to achieve its promises.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland emphasized in a major policy speech Tuesday that Canada can no longer rely on the US for its defence to the same extent it has in the past.
While some of the new money will start flowing this year, the taps aren't expected to really open until 2020-21 that is after the next election. But the delay is inevitable because of the amount of time required to buy new warships, fighter jets and other major equipment.
“The current as well as future governments ‘owe it’ to those in uniform to ‘fully fund the Canadian Armed Forces on a long-term footing. And that's what we have done,” Sajjan added.
The money for the first five years has already been included in the government's current fiscal plan, officials said, but they did not mention of decisions over the longer term.
There is no indication that the government plans to increase defence spending to meet NATO's target of two per cent of GDP, which is what US president Trump has demanded of alliance members.
The policy document instead says Canada has been under-reporting its defence spending for years by not including the money spent by other departments on such items as peacekeeping and veterans' benefits. As a result, it says defence spending is actually around 1.19 per cent this fiscal year, which it will increase to 1.4 per cent of GDP by 2026-27.