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Liberal government’s defence plan threatened by shortage of procurement staff

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan displays his service medals as he leaves a ceremony in which the Royal Canadian Air Force were presented with new ceremonial flags in Toronto on Friday, September 1, 2017. .
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan displays his service medals as he leaves a ceremony in which the Royal Canadian Air Force were presented with new ceremonial flags in Toronto on Friday, September 1, 2017. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Senior officials at the Defence Department admit that they will be challenged to make good on the Trudeau government’s promise to buy billions of dollars in new military equipment in the
coming years.

The top concern is a shortage of staff to manage the dozens of increasingly complex – and risky – projects that have already been or will soon be launched to obtain the equipment that the Canadian Armed Forces needs.

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Canada’s Defence Minister admits military is underfunded
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Officials say they aren’t just determined to deliver on the promises included in the new defence policy, which promised an extra $62 billion over the next 20 years, but that the government expects them to deliver.

But while the department is hiring as fast as possible, the officials say numbers alone aren’t enough as staff need certain skills and experience to deal with intricate intellectual-property rules and technical requirements.

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The department’s challenge was highlighted in the federal economic update this week.

The update reveals that the Liberals quietly reduced the amount of fiscal space set aside for new military equipment over the next five years because of delays in several projects.

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Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan‘s office is blaming the delays on the previous Conservative government, but some industry representatives say the Liberals are responsible for dithering on new fighter jets and warships.