Skip to main content Start of content

NDVA Committee Report

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at








The Government of Canada has considered carefully the report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs (SCONDVA) on the State of Readiness of the Canadian Forces.  The Government has taken note of the twenty-five recommendations contained in the Report.  The Government remains committed to ensuring that the Canadian Forces are prepared to meet Canada’s security and defence needs, both domestically and overseas.  At the same time, the Government recognizes – and has been very open about the fact – that the Canadian Forces face significant challenges.  The world is changing and the Canadian Forces must be modernized and transformed to ensure they are able to meet their commitments today, tomorrow and well into the future.  The key is to achieve the right balance in our investments between today and tomorrow, between people and equipment, and between our ability to surge to address crises or new international developments.  This balance must also include the ability to sustain CF operations.  In the Speech from the Throne, the Government committed to set out, before the end of this mandate, a long-term direction on international and defence policy that reflects our values and interests and ensures that Canada’s military is equipped to fulfill the demands placed upon it. 


The Response


This Response addresses each recommendation made by the Committee.  In doing so, it provides a concise overview of the Government’s position with respect to each recommendation.  This Response also provides information on the plans and initiatives in progress, and already in place, with respect to the Canadian Forces’ state of readiness. 


Recommendation 1: The government increase the annual base budget for the Department of National Defence to between 1.5% to 1.6% of GDP, with the increase to be phased in over the next three years, and continue to move towards the NATO average.


The Government remains committed to ensuring the Canadian Forces have the resources they need. Significant new spending on Defence has been allocated in recent years.  In Budget 1999, the Government increased the budget of National Defence to address quality of life issues in the military, including compensation and benefits.  Budget 2000 invested funding to assist Defence in meeting its highest priorities, and the Supplementary Estimates of 2000-2001 provided additional funds for Defence for certain capital equipment projects and for economic wage increases for the Canadian Forces. 


Taken together, the $3.9 billion in new funding in Budgets 1999 and 2000 and the more than $1.2 billion in new funding in the 2001 Budget mean that the Government will have increased Defence funding by a total of $5.1 billion beginning in 2001-2002 and extending to 2006-2007. 


The Government notes that expressing the defence budget as a percentage of GDP is but one of the means to represent defence expenditures.  It is worth noting that Canada is sixth within NATO in terms of absolute expenditures on defence.


The Government will continue to take a balanced approach to allocating the available surplus between tax cuts, debt reduction and new spending, and will consider any increase to the defence budget in the context of its overall spending priorities.


Recommendation 2: In order for DND to be able to purchase necessary capital equipment, in a timely fashion, the annual shortfalls identified by the Auditor General, be made up as quickly as possible.


The Government remains committed to ensuring the Canadian Forces have the resources they need, including adequate resources for the purchase of capital equipment.  Defence spent about $1.55 billion on capital equipment purchases in 2001-2002.  Recent acquisitions include the LAV III as well as upgrades to the CF-18, Aurora and Hercules aircraft. 


In the Speech from the Throne, the Government indicated that it will set out, before the end of this mandate, a long-term direction on international and defence policy that ensures that Canada’s military is equipped to fulfill the demands placed upon it. 


Recommendation 3: Any future defence review have significant parliamentary and public input.


The views of Parliament and the public play an important role in developing Canada’s defence policy.  The Standing Committee’s reports, along with those of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence and those of a number of defence groups, have provided comprehensive and useful analyses of some of the key issues and challenges facing the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence.  The Government will continue to take the views of Parliamentarians, defence experts and Canadians into account as it establishes a long term direction on international and defence policy.


Recommendation 4: The government review the existing security and intelligence structure with a view to determining whether or not open source and foreign intelligence are being effectively coordinated and to determine whether or not an independent foreign intelligence agency should be established in order to ensure that Canada’s vital national interests are being served.


The steps taken by the government to enhance its security and intelligence capabilities since September 11th, 2001 are having a significant and positive effect.


For example, we are increasing the size and scope of the Intelligence Assessments Secretariat located in the Privy Council Office, to ensure that it is better able to provide foreign intelligence analyses and partner effectively with international counterparts.


Our foreign intelligence needs are met through signals intelligence collection by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) (in Canada under Section 16 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Act), through an Interview Programme administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and from intelligence


sharing with our Allies.  We also derive useful information, though not necessarily intelligence, from diplomatic reporting by the Department of Foreign Affairs. 


DFAIT, CSE and CSIS received additional resources in Budget 2001.  Other efforts are underway to ensure that the mechanisms we presently have for the collection of foreign intelligence and general information on the world are used to their fullest extent through greater co-ordination and sharing of resources.


The issue of a foreign intelligence service arises from time to time.  It is healthy to examine this idea and to assess the adequacy of our intelligence capabilities and products.  Any decision on such an organization would only take place after considerable study of the need, costs, and legal issues.  At present, the Government believes that the establishment of a separate Canadian foreign intelligence agency would be premature.


Recommendation 5: The Department of National Defence put in place a comprehensive system for determining the readiness of the Canadian Forces. This system should set clear and standardized measurements of operational readiness for the CF and its component units.


Defence is in the process of integrating a number of separate readiness evaluation and reporting systems for the CF. A framework has been established based on the Report on Plans and Priorities and the Defence Plan.  Work is now focused on establishing the procedures and the reporting mechanisms to bring a CF wide readiness and reporting system into effect.  This system will set clear and standardized measures of operational readiness.  Much of the developmental work that is underway in relation to Readiness Reporting can be linked to the Department’s Performance Measurement Framework that is also under development. 


Recommendation 6: No notice inspections be carried out, on a regular basis, on the operational readiness of selected commands and units of the Canadian Forces.


The Government believes that the use of no notice inspections has been made systematic in the appropriate areas of the CF.  A centralized operational readiness inspection team would risk diverting scarce resources from other areas and National Defence has no plans to establish such a team. 


Recommendation 7: Yearly readiness evaluations be done on the CF and its component units and that these be tabled with SCONDVA upon completion.


The CF completes annual readiness evaluations on those units that need to be evaluated based on operational requirements.  Some information on readiness reporting is already included in the annual Departmental Performance Report and the Chief of the Defence Staff Annual Report on the CF, both of which are tabled in the House and made available to all members of the Committee.  We acknowledge that there is room to improve in terms of public reporting on readiness. 


Recommendation 8: The Army proceed as quickly as possible with changes in its training regime to ensure that all its units undergo, on a regular basis, the full extent of combat training required to improve and maintain its state of readiness at a high level, including training at the battalion and brigade levels. 

The Canadian Forces are in the process of changing the framework for Army training at the battalion and brigade levels.  Building on a recently-implemented programme of managed readiness, the “Army Training and Operations Framework”, which incorporates a formalized collective training framework for the Canadian Army, detailed planning has commenced for the return to collective training at Brigade level, comprising confirmation exercises for operationally-tasked Battle Groups. Planning is focussed on embedding an annual, Army-directed Brigade Training Event into the Army training calendar. This annual training is intended to stimulate collective learning within the Army in a progressive and dynamic fashion. For 2003, the Brigade Training Event has been nicknamed Exercise Resolute Warrior and will involve approximately 3500 soldiers. 


Recommendation 9: The budget for the Land Forces be increased in the next fiscal years to provide sufficient funding to improve its level of readiness, especially with regards to combat training and the replacement of obsolete equipment.


The Government remains committed to providing Defence with the resources it requires to fulfill its mandate and it expects the Department of National Defence to allocate those resources in a manner that delivers the Government’s defence policy as effectively and efficiently as possible.  The recent implementation of a managed readiness framework within the Land Force is making the best use of available resources.  Within the Departmental management framework, the examination of optimal capability delivery is an ongoing activity.  In developing a long term direction on defence policy, further consideration will be given to the optimal force structure for the future to continue to provide Canada with multipurpose, combat capable, sea, land and air forces within available resources. 


Recommendation 10: The Department of National Defence maintain its strong commitment to research and development in the defence field and its cooperation with Canadian industries to ensure the design and production of state‑of‑the art military equipment.


The Defence Research & Development (R&D) Program is the responsibility of Defence R&D Canada (DRDC), an agency within the Department of National Defence created in 2000.  The agency provides expert Science &Technology advice in support of defence policy, procurement and personnel development. It conducts R&D activities to contribute to the success of Canadian military operations and performs ongoing technology assessment to enhance military preparedness.  The technical program is developed in consultation with five CF Client Groups: Maritime, Land, Air, Human Performance, and Command & Control Information Systems.  The department has developed a Technology Investment Strategy to meet the future needs of the Canadian Forces.  The strategy articulates twenty-one research and development areas that are aligned with the National Defence vision contained in Shaping the Future of Canadian Defence: Strategy 2020


The Technology Investment Strategy will continue to be refined as the future requirements of the Canadian Forces change with time.  The R&D program is delivered through a mix of industrial and university contracting, collaborative activities with other government research agencies, international collaboration, and in-house activities at the five Defence Research Centres, at Dartmouth, Valcartier, Ottawa, Toronto and Suffield.  R&D investment in industry is essential to develop expertise and technology in the Canadian defence industrial base so it can support CF acquisition projects.  Several elements of the Defence R&D program contribute to the development and positioning of Canadian industry to meet future CF requirements.  Approximately 50% of the R&D program is contracted, leading to a situation where


industry is clearly engaged in a variety of aspects of applied research, exploratory development and technology demonstration. 


Recommendation 11: The Department of National Defence undertake a study on the future of JTF2 to determine its long-term requirements in terms of resources, the implications of overseas deployments of some of its personnel, and the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a Canadian special force unit similar to U.S. and U.K. special force units operating in Afghanistan. The Department should communicate to this Committee the general conclusions of this study and its decisions, if any, concerning the need for a special force.


As part of the 2001 Budget, the Government allocated new, ongoing funding to expansion of the Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) capability.  Work is proceeding to identify and analyse the employment and force structure options for Canadian special operations forces.  This analysis is taking full consideration of similar Coalition forces employed in Afghanistan.  The Department of National Defence expects to complete project planning for the expansion of JTF 2 in early 2003.  Once this plan has been reviewed and approved, the Government will communicate progress on this initiative and other priorities through annual reporting to Parliament. 


Recommendation 12: The Department of National Defence make a commitment as quickly as possible to fund Phase 2 of the Land Force Reserve Restructure project so that the revitalization and restructuring of the Army Reserve can proceed as currently planned.


The Government remains committed to ensuring the Canadian Forces have the resources they need and expects the Department of National Defence to allocate those resources as effectively and efficiently as possible to deliver the Government’s defence policy.  The Land Force Reserve Restructure (LFRR) initiative involves two phases, the first of which is the stabilization of the Army reserve at a personnel level of approximately 15,500.  This phase is underway and is projected to meet its goals by the end of fiscal year 2002-2003.  It has been supported with additional monies from both the Department and from within the Land Force funding envelope.  The second phase of the project would see the Militia increase in strength to an assumed critical mass of approximately 18,500 persons; successful implementation of this will require additional resources.  This will be taken into account as the government establishes a long term direction on defence policy that ensures that Canada’s military is equipped to fulfil the demands placed upon it. 


Recommendation 13: The National Defence Act be amended as quickly as possible to provide job protection to Reservists called-up for duty during major emergencies such as conflicts and that efforts be maintained, notably by the Canadian Forces Liaison Council, to encourage employers to give Reservists time off for military exercises with job protection.


Bill C-55, the Public Safety Act, 2002, introduced in the House of Commons on April 29th 2002, contains amendments to the National Defence Act to provide job protection to Reservists called out compulsorily for duty in emergencies.  The Government notes the substantial support of SCONDVA for the legislated job protection measures in the case of compulsory call-out in major emergencies that are set out in Bill C-55.  While it acknowledges the importance of putting these measures in place, it is satisfied that continued inclusion in Bill C-55 remains the most practical approach.


Recommendation 14: The government approve the funding for the acquisition, over the span of a decade, of at least three replenishment ships with roll-on roll-off capabilities to provide a strategic sealift capability for overseas deployments and to replace the two replenishment ships currently in service.


The Department of National Defence is currently investigating options to replace its existing replenishment ships that provide support to the Maritime Forces at sea, and to improve the capability for strategic lift in support of other Government objectives. 


Recommendation 15: New replenishment and other ships acquired for Canada’s Navy be constructed in Canadian shipyards in keeping with efforts to maintain this country’s shipbuilding capability and defence industrial base in general.


On June 19, 2001, Industry Canada promulgated a new Shipbuilding and Industrial Marine Policy Framework.  In announcing the new framework, the government noted that the federal procurement issue was complex and required further review and consideration.  Industry Canada released the promised procurement study on May 23, 2002.  The report notes that no major projects are likely until 2005-2006 at the earliest.  The report states:  “There is not enough domestic federal government newbuild requirement for large ships alone to support the existence of the two largest shipyards.  These yards must be commercially viable, independent of government procurement.”


It is in order to support a shipbuilding sector that is efficient, productive, innovative and competitive in the global market that Industry Canada is putting the elements of the policy framework into place.  The framework, consisting of over 20 realistic and affordable measures, includes a new financial program [Structured Financing Facility], competitive export financing through the Export Development Corporation, export promotion support through Team Canada Inc.; securing greater Canadian industrial benefits from the development of offshore oil and gas; and access for the shipbuilding and industrial marine sectors to Technology Partnerships Canada for the development of innovative technologies.  The new program focuses on opportunity, growth and innovation in niche markets where Canada can compete.


Government policy is that Canadian government ship needs will be met in Canada, as long as competitive conditions exist.  Canadian shipyards that are capable of fulfilling requirements will continue to have the chance to compete on future government procurements, as and when those procurements proceed. 


Recommendation 16: Canada acquire additional heavy lift transport aircraft and replace older models to ensure the strategic and tactical airlift capacity required to rapidly and effectively deploy the personnel and equipment required for overseas operations.


Depending on the circumstances, the Government has several options for moving the CF around the world by air to meet operational requirements, including government owned and operated aircraft, leased or contracted airlift, or agreements with allies.  In general, we have always succeeded in getting our forces to and from overseas deployments.  Options to best meet the operational requirements of the CF will be considered before the end of this mandate. 


Recommendation 17: The project for the replacement of the four Tribal class destroyers with new warships with superior command and control as well as air defence capabilities should proceed. 


The Government recognizes the importance of maintaining a command and control and air defence capability for its naval task groups.  These capabilities have proven to be of tremendous value to the nation in times of crisis such as the Gulf War and Operation APOLLO.  In both cases the capabilities of the Iroquois class destroyers have resulted in Canadian officers being assigned major command functions, including control of the forces of other nations.  That said, there are a number of options available to maintain this capability in Canadian naval task groups into the future.  Maintaining the command and control and air defence capability may not require the one for one replacement of the four Tribal class destroyers. 


Recommendation 18: The mid-life upgrading and refit of the 12 frigates be given a high priority so that Canada’s naval capabilities are not allowed to slide into obsolescence as happened so many times in the past.


The Government recognizes the importance of maintaining the capabilities of Canada’s maritime forces.  The Department of National Defence has begun preliminary project definition work for the mid-life upgrade and refit of the Halifax Class Canadian Patrol Frigates.  This project is part of the Departmental long term capital equipment program. 


Recommendation 19: The process of selecting and acquiring the airframe or basic vehicle and the electronic equipment for the new maritime helicopter project be accelerated to ensure that all of the Sea King helicopters will be replaced by the end of the decade.


The Maritime Helicopter Project has implemented a unique “pre-qualification” process whereby theproposed basic helicopters and missions systems will be evaluated prior to receipt of formal proposals from industry.  Shortly after the Government announcement of the project on August 17, 2000, a Letter of Interest was released to industry encouraging feedback on the Statement of Requirement, draft specifications and the procurement process.  Given the importance of the Maritime Helicopter Project, the Government undertook a careful examination of the many issues raised by industry.  Where solutions proposed by industry cannot be accommodated given the Statement of Requirements, bidders will be given the opportunity to propose changes to their submission in order to achieve compliance.  This unique process is being implemented in order to reduce the risk to bidders and government of a non-compliant proposal. 


As this is a complex Major Crown Project, it is necessary to take the time needed to ensure that the Government acquires the best helicopter for Canada at the lowest price.  However, as with any large and complex project of this type, the possibility of delay exists. It remains our goal to get the right aircraft as soon as possible. 


Recommendation 20: No efforts be spared to provide the Sea King helicopters with all the mechanical, electronic, and other equipment necessary to ensure their effective and safe operation until they are withdrawn from service. 


The Air Force follows a very strict maintenance and inspection regime that includes pre- and post-flight inspections as well as numerous preventative maintenance checks. These inspections ensure that the Sea King is a safe vehicle to fly and can continue to fulfill its assigned tasks into the foreseeable future.


Significant investments have also been made to ensure that the Sea King will continue to maintain an acceptable level of operational capability and most importantly safety of flight, while performing its assigned missions.  For example, we are nearing completion of a $50 million upgrade to the engines, gearboxes andcenter airframe section. This has renewed the power plant life, removed safety concerns with regard to the old gearboxes and strengthened the overall structural integrity of the airframe.  The benefits of these investments are already apparent.  Operational availability of the Sea King fleet improved from 29% in 1997 to just over 50% to date in 2002. 


Recommendation 21: All 18 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft be modernized and kept in the Air Force’s inventory of aircraft so that they can continue to fulfil all their roles, including search and rescue and surveillance flights in Canada’s North.


The estimated life expectancy of the CP-140 Aurora airframe and propulsion systems is currently established as 2010, while ongoing efforts are expected to extend this to 2015 and beyond.  However, since the early 1990s, the Aurora’s operational effectiveness and interoperability with Canada’s defence partners has diminished.  To address the growing number of operational deficiencies, the Department of National Defence established the Aurora Incremental Modernization Project (AIMP) in 1998.  With an approved budget of  $1.4 billion, AIMP remains one of the Air Force’s top priority modernization projects consisting of 23 subprojects that will update the Aurora’s entire suite of mission avionics including navigation, communications, mission computer and sensors.


AIMP is now effectively in full implementation as several major contracts have already been awarded and are progressing according to plan.  It is anticipated that thefull capability of the modernized Aurora will be realized by 2008, with significant capability updatesentering operational service in stages during the life of the project.  The AIMP will modernize 16 production CP-140s, with the remaining two aircraft being used for prototype and proof-fit, systems-integration and testing.  


The decision to retain 16 modernized aircraft was based on the need for the CF to maintain an optimal and affordable force structure.  The decision was made after studying the cost of fully supporting the modernized fleet.  The supporting analysis examined spares and support costs for maintenance, the number of crews, and the yearly flying rates.  Additional factors such as the increased capability of flight simulators, increased sensor capability of the Aurora and the use of other sensor systems for long range surveillance (such as radar satellites) were also used to determine the optimal and affordable fleet size.


Recommendation 22: The Canadian government authorities continue to explore with their U.S. counterparts possible ways of improving the longstanding cooperation between Canada and the U.S. in NORAD and in the defence of North America in general, in light of the establishment by the U.S. of its new Northern Command, and that Parliament be kept informed.


NORAD’s contribution to the defence of North America was amply demonstrated on and after September 11th, 2001. Canada and the U.S. have sought to maintain NORAD, with its provisions for binational reporting and approval, as a cornerstone of bilateral defence relations. The reporting relationship of Commander NORAD to the Prime Minister and the President will not change.


In addition to bolstering NORAD’s capability for surveillance of continental airspace, Canada and the U.S. have undertaken steps to improve bilateral coordination involving multiple government actors on both sides of the border through the Great-Lakes/Saint Lawrence Seaway Cross Border Task Force, which targets the illicit traffic of people and goods across the maritime sector of our border with the U.S.


While the newly-created U.S. Northern Command will remain U.S.-only, the process which led to its creation has afforded Canada and the U.S. the opportunity to explore practical and sensible measures to improve cooperation for maritime and land operations, including assistance to civil authorities. Representatives from DND and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade continue to meet their U.S. counterparts to discuss a range of potential options.  The Government will be in a position to decide on enhanced military cooperation with the U.S. when the discussions conclude. 


Recommendation 23: Sufficient numbers of new and replacement transport aircraft be acquired in the near future to meet the domestic needs of Canada, including search and rescue operations, while ensuring the airlift capacity required for foreign deployments, as called for in recommendation 16.


Depending on the circumstances, the Government has several options to meet the airlift needs of the CF for domestic and overseas operations.  These include government owned and operated aircraft, leased or contracted airlift, or agreements with allies.  In general, we have always succeeded in getting our forces to and from domestic operations and overseas deployments.  Options to best meet the operational requirements of the CF will be considered before the end of this mandate. 


Recommendation 24: The Department of National Defence, together with the Department of Veterans Affairs, give a high priority and additional funding to programs designed to help members of the Canadian Forces dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological/physical injuries following their participation in peacekeeping or combat missions abroad or in training, rescue, or other operations within Canada in order to maintain a good quality of life for the individuals.


DND and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) recognize that CF members have returned from deployments with psychological, emotional, spiritual and relationship problems related to that military mission.  This group of conditions is collectively referred to as Operational Stress Injuries (OSI).  Both departments have established a comprehensive number of programs to identify, diagnose, treat and support these injured veterans.  There are plans in place from both departments to provide even more resources to address these significant and disabling problems.  Efforts to manage physical symptoms arising after stressful military operations are discussed in response to Recommendation 25.


DND and VAC remain committed to investing the resources required to provide the best possible care to our Canadian Forces personnel. 


Recommendation 25: The Department of National Defence and the Department of Veterans Affairs continue extensive research on all the possible causes of what is referred to as the Gulf War Syndrome and any other psychological/physical injuries.


It is clear that service in the Gulf War is associated with an increased rate of reported symptoms and worsening subjective health, even if most research has not confirmed the existence of a specific new syndrome.  It is also becoming increasingly obvious that illnesses seen in our Gulf War veterans can be found in returning veterans from multiple Canadian deployments.  Indeed, post-combat illnesses have now been well described in the medical literature for conflicts dating back over 150 years.


VAC and DND have already launched a number of research initiatives to better understand the root causes of these debilitating illnesses.  VAC has a new Research Directorate and DND has a new Post-Deployment Cell.  Their mandates include the monitoring of the world’s literature on post-deployment health, the development of education packages for CF health care providers, veterans and the public at large, the advancement of new research protocols and the publication of the findings in peer-reviewed medical journals.  Both departments have established a closer working relationship with each other as well as with international colleagues struggling with the same problems.


Post-conflict illnesses have vexed veterans and their health care providers for almost two centuries.  VAC and DND are both committed to conducting the necessary research studies to break this cycle.