Ottawa on track to invest less on new military kit than promised for second year

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OTTAWA — For the second year in a row, the federal government is in danger of spending billions less on new military equipment than promised.

The Trudeau government in 2016 released a new defence policy that included dramatic increases in spending on new aircraft, ships, armoured vehicles and other military equipment over the next 20 years.

New budget documents filed in the House of Commons show the Department of National Defence has so far been given authority to spend $4 billion this fiscal year, but the policy had predicted a total investment of $6.5 billion.

Defence officials have until March 31st — when the government’s fiscal year ends — to make up the $2.5-billion difference, but defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says such a massive increase in such a short time period would be unprecedented.

The Defence Department’s top civilian official, Jody Thomas, admits there will likely be a shortfall this year, but says efforts are being made to minimize it while ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly.

Last year, the government spent $2.3 billion less than originally planned, largely because of delays in several procurement projects, though Thomas says the department was also able to save money in some places.

The Canadian Press

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