Cost of anti-ISIS mission climbs to $528M, Jason Kenney says

WATCH: Jason Kenney told media that the cost of Canada’s anti-ISIS mission is now at least $528 million.

OTTAWA — Extending Canada’s anti-ISIS mission for another year will cost at least $406 million, Defence Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday afternoon.

“That number will obviously change,” he told reporters. “If the past is any guide it will probably change upward, but that’s our best estimate.”

That amount is above and beyond the $122 million Kenney said was spent on the first six months of the mission, which started in October.

But the price tag — now reaching past half a billion dollars — only includes what government accountants call “incremental costs.” Those are basically anything beyond salaries, equipment maintenance and jet fuel costs, or any expenses National Defence would have incurred regardless of whether troops were on a mission.

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As Kenney noted, these estimates tend to low ball the actual costs of missions.

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The incremental costs for the 2011 Libya mission were pegged at a little less than $100 million. The total cost for the mission, meanwhile, which included everything from salaries to equipment maintenance and jet fuel, reached a staggering $347 million.

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Already, the federal parliamentary budget officer has pegged the cost of the first six months in Iraq as much as $44 million more than the government estimated.

Beyond the cost of the mission itself, there will be more costs associated with bringing troops and equipment back to Canada, whenever the mission ends, Kenney noted.

The minister spoke to reporters Wednesday after a report Tuesday evening stating the costs of extending and expanding the mission would be classified.

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Late Tuesday, the federal Treasury Board tabled its reports on plans and priorities for the coming fiscal year, which is a rough guidebook to upcoming departmental spending.

The costs of Operation Impact, in Iraq, and Operation Reassurance, in Europe, were classified, National Defence told media.

Kenney on Wednesday explained the planning documents were signed off on March 9, before the government had decided whether to seek an extension of either mission.

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READ MORE: Any Canadians troops deployed to Ukraine will stay far from the front lines, minister says

“Since that time, of course, we have made a final decision,” he said.

The House of Commons approved a motion late Monday to extend the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria for a year, and expand airstrikes into Syria.

In Europe, Canada has sent a frigate to patrol with NATO’s standing fleet, CF-18s for air policing over the Baltic and ground troops for land exercises with other allied nations. All of it is meant to show western solidarity in the face of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

More deployments and training are expected this year.

With files from The Canadian Press

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