Canada’s Minister of Defence was at CFB Trenton on Thursday, to go over some highlights of the newly released defence policy.
Minister Harjit Sajjan spoke to Canadian Armed Forces members about how new initiatives in that policy called Strong, Secure, Engaged have people at its core and are aimed at improving support and care for soldiers and their families.
The policy pledges to increase annual defence spending by more than 70%, from $18.9 billion in 2016/17 to $32.7 billion in 2016/27.
It includes plans to invest $198.2 million over the course of the policy to implement a new Total Health and Wellness Strategy that will expand wellness beyond the traditional healthcare model to include promotion, prevention, treatment and support; increase the proportion of women in the military by 1 percent to achieve 25 percent by 2026; grow the regular force by 3,500, to a total of 71,500; grow the reserve force by 1,500 to 30,000 members; replace the CF 18 fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft; improve land capabilities including ground based air defence, combat support vehicles, heavy logistics vehicles and training simulators by improving recruitment and retention strategies and by providing career-long training that meets or exceeds industry standards.
“With significant investments in care for personnel and families, equipment and training and new capabilities, Canada’s new defence policy supports CAF members’ dedication and role in making Canada strong at home, secure in North America and engaged in the world,” said Minister Sajjan.
Supporting military families is also a key element of the policy as it will invest $6 million per year to modernize family support programs such as Military Resource Centres.
Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis praised the men and woman in uniform along with their families calling CFB Trenton the heart of the community. With over 4,000 military and civilian members employed at 8-Wing Trenton MP Ellis said they are engines that strengthen the community through their volunteer work and passion for excellence.
While many have voiced concerns about it being unclear where the money will come from as federal spending is already stretched, with last spring’s budget seeing $933 million in defence costs, Minister Sajjan said the spending is accounted for.
Thursday’s announcement concludes the most comprehensive review process in Canadian defence and security history.