Slower than expected economic growth to boost Canada’s defence spending: officials

Click to play video: 'DND has $7.79B in unspent funds it promised to spend'
DND has $7.79B in unspent funds it promised to spend
WATCH: DND has $7.79B in unspent funds it promised to spend – Dec 4, 2019

The federal government is predicting Canadian defence spending will inch closer to its NATO promises but not because Ottawa is sending new money the military’s way.

All NATO members agreed in 2014 to work toward spending the equivalent of two per cent of their gross domestic product on defence over the next decade.

READ MORE: Ottawa failed to spend almost $8B in promised defence cash over recent years

Two years ago the Liberals said the government would hit 1.4 per cent by 2024-25 but Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said this week that number will be 1.48 per cent.

An actual increase of that size could be close to $2 billion, but officials from the Department of National Defence say the change is really because of slower-than-expected economic growth and more spending on non-military specific activities like veterans’ benefits and the Canadian Coast Guard.

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Click to play video: 'Trudeau speaks on Canada’s defence spending following NATO summit'
Trudeau speaks on Canada’s defence spending following NATO summit

The government has included such activities in its calculations since 2017 to try and address complaints from the U.S. and other allies that Canada was not investing enough on its military.

U.S. President Donald Trump is often expressing his displeasure with Canada’s defence spending levels, labelling the country “slightly delinquent” during a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week and calling it out on Twitter in recent days.

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