March 22, 2016 4:37 pm
Updated: March 22, 2016 9:10 pm

Federal budget 2016: Liberals indefinitely delay $3.7 billion in defence spending

WATCH ABOVE: Liberal government unveils 2016 Federal Budget

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OTTAWA – The promised re-equipping of the Canadian military has essentially been postponed until after the next election by a federal Liberal budget that shifts billions of dollars in capital spending to 2020 – or later.

The new fiscal plan delays $3.7 billion in planned defence purchases – ships, planes and vehicles – indefinitely, but Finance Minister Bill Morneau insists it’s not a cut to military funding, which the Liberals promised to maintain during the last election.

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The Conservatives did the same thing in two previous budgets; defence analyst Dave Perry of the Canadian Gobal Affairs Institute says the cumulative total of postponed defence purchases has now reached $10.4 billion.

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Veterans, meanwhile, are among the budget’s big winners.

They will see enriched disability awards, expanded access to permanent impairment allowances and a more generous income replacement program for the wounded – measures totalling $5.6 billion over six years, starting this year.

The budget also commits to reopening the nine regional Veterans Affairs offices across the country closed by the Conservatives, but does not say precisely when it will happen.

After the budget’s release Tuesday, leader of the Official Opposition Rona Ambrose slammed the Liberal’s projected $29.4 billion deficit for 2016 as “a nightmare scenario” from a tax-payers point of view.

With a file from Global News

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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