On May 12, 2008, the Government of Canada (GOC) announced details on implementing the "Canada First Defence Strategy" and the creation of an 'action plan' that will dedicate itself and its budget to the Canadian Forces (CF) and Department of National Defence (DND)1 over the next twenty years. This plan allows the GOC to finalize procurements faster and fairly in order to get the right equipment for the Canadian Forces, at the right price. The Canadian Department of National Defence, primarily through, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), is purchasing equipment and related support services for the Canadian Forces.
The "Canada First Defence Strategy" is the GOC's comprehensive plan to ensure the Canadian Forces has the people, equipment, and financial support needed to meet Canada's long-term domestic and international security challenges. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is quoted as having said that it has the capability to "… strengthen our sovereignty and security at home, and bolster our ability to defend our values and interests abroad." The GOC established the Strategy with the goal of defending Canada and its citizens, as well as with working towards the betterment of the world as a whole.
Major Goals – The Four Pillars
The government chose to create a framework that will enable them to address specific goals and the 'pillars' upon which their military is built – personnel, infrastructure, readiness and equipment. These goals are of course long-term and will be a source of continued investment.
1. Increasing Canadian Forces Readiness
The first pillar in the Canada First Defence Strategy deals with the government's goal of providing long term funding to DND, and in doing so, increasing the overall preparedness of the CF. Readiness encompasses the training, maintenance and resources required for the CF to deploy, while also reflecting the Forces' ability to respond to government direction and the fulfillment of domestic and international tasks. This can deal with anything from the movement of people to the maintenance of and investment in equipment, spare parts, clothing, refits, exercises, fuel and ammunition. U.S. businesses have to opportunity play a substantial role through bidding on contracts or providing expertise in these various fields.
2. Viability of Infrastructure
Defense is the single largest property holder in the Canadian government, with over 21,000 buildings and more than 12,000 roads and utilities on over 800 properties; therefore, there is a constant need for maintaining and updating this infrastructure. The Canada First Defence Strategy aims to replace or upgrade, with the help of Canadian and U.S. enterprise, approximately 25 percent of DND infrastructure holdings within 10 years, with the goal of having approximately 50 percent replaced or upgraded over the next 20 years. These holdings are also going to be regularly reviewed to maximize efficiency at the national level in order to ensure bases support operational requirements and local facilities services are being provided efficiently.
3. Modernizing CF Equipment
The GOC has projected that over the next twenty years, six of the CF's equipment fleets will have reached their performance peaks and will need to be replaced. These fleets include destroyers, frigates, maritime patrol aircraft, fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, fighter aircraft, and land combat vehicles and systems. The Canada First Defence Strategy is aiming to have replacements ready. The Strategy also calls for new and upgraded equipment such as strategic and tactical lift aircraft, Joint Support Ships, armored vehicles, helicopters, and Arctic/Offshore patrol ships. The Department will be seeking innovative and cost-effective solutions for future procurements, thus allowing American businesses the opportunity to bid on any of this equipment.
i.) Acquired Equipment to Date
Over the past 36 months, in following the defense vision laid out in past Throne Speeches2, the Government has announced plans to replace existing fleets, such as tactical transport aircraft, tanks, and medium trucks; and to acquire new capabilities, such as strategic lift aircraft, medium- to heavy-lift helicopters and Arctic/offshore patrol ships, therefore establishing its Canada First commitment to strengthening Canada's defense force while also creating opportunities for businesses in the industry.
ii.) Halifax Class Modernization
In 2007, the government announced the $3.1 billion refit program for the Halifax Class frigates, beginning in 2010, and continuing through 2017. The frigates were designed to deal with threats associated with the Cold War environment but since the end of the Cold War, the role of these frigates has changed, and they require equipment upgrades in order to deal with current or emerging threats. This refit and upgrade process will enhance the frigates' capabilities, and ensure that the Navy can work with allies into the future to effectively meet threats at sea.
iii.) Deep Water Docking and Refueling Facility
Construction of the deep water docking and refueling facility in Nanisivik, Nunavut is expected to begin in 2010 and become fully operational by 2015. This facility will serve as a staging area for naval vessels on station in the high Arctic, enabling them to re-supply, refuel, embark equipment and supplies, and transfer personnel.
4. Expanding the Forces
The Canada First Defence Strategy sets out a long term defense program that includes expanding both the Regular and Reserve Forces, on top of building on the work that has already been done in this area. The GOC is also looking to bolster its capacity to provide support for civilian authorities in the event of natural disasters, as well as provide security for major international events such as the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC. In order to achieve these goals, the government may seek personnel and recruitment consultants, along with the outsourcing of security staff for such events.
By Lucy Latka