CANADIAN FORCES FACE BUDGET CUTS SAYS SENATOR BY DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN REPORTER

BY DAVID PUGLIESE

OTTAWA CITIZEN

Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire is warning that impending cuts to the defence budget from an ongoing Strategic Review could see military spending in some areas  scaled back.

 

Defence Department officials confirm that the department is now undergoing a Strategic Review to try to find savings. Dallaire says the review is focused on the department’s operations and maintenance budget.

 

Last year, the Strategic Review process saw 14 federal organizations examine their spending. Savings of $586 million were determined and redirected to fund new initiatives as part of the Economic Action Plan announced in the 2009 budget, according to Treasury Board.

 

Dallaire says he is worried that any budget cuts imposed by such a review would eventually impact other programs as well and hurt, in particular, quality of life programs for Canadian Forces personnel. He brought up the concerns about the Strategic Review during question period in the Senate.

 

But Senator Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate dismissed Dallaire’s concerns, noting that the Harper government has “massively increased” the budget of the Department of National Defence.”

 

I am not talking about the Capital Acquisition Support Program; I am not even debating the personnel envelope,” Dallaire responded. “I am speaking of the operations and maintenance envelope, and it is going through a strategic review, like every other department, and rumours are it is being cut to the 2006 level.”

 

He asked LeBreton to review the situation and update the Senate about the extent of the budget cuts that could happen at National Defence as part of the Strategic Review.


LeBreton, however, declined. “I am quite certain that, as we go through the whole strategic review process, rumours will run rampant,” she said. “We have known that for years, but I cannot and will not respond or answer a serious question based on a rumour.”

 

As part of the Strategic Review process, organizations examine their direct program spending and the operating costs of their major statutory programs to assess how and whether these programs: are effective and efficient; meet the priorities of Canadians; and are aligned with core federal responsibilities.

 

Defence Department officials privately say they expect some impact from the Strategic Review but at this stage it’s too early to tell what that might be. They note that defence and the Canadian Forces has been a priority for the Harper government. “We’re confident the savings can be absorbed,” said one official.

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

 

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