Government of Canada Allocates $5.72 Billion in Defence Policy Update for Additional Space Capabilities

Inuvik ground station dishes, from left to right: Planet, Kepler Communications, Planet, KSAT (for Planet’s SkySats), Planet, Planet. Credit: Planet.

As the government continues to roll-out federal budget promises, Prime Minister Trudeau and Defence Minister Bill Blair yesterday announced a defence policy update called Our North, Strong and Free which included two items specifically for space capabilities.

The government said it was allocating “$8.1 billion over the next five years, and $73 billion over the next 20 years, in our national defence over six major themes.”

The government said this update would achieve a “defence spending-to-GDP ratio to 1.76% by 2029-30.” This is much lower than the commitment of 2% it agreed to at the NATO Vilnius Summit in 2023. 

The major themes are:

  • support our people;
  • strengthen our foundations;
  • build an innovative industrial base;
  • defend Canada;
  • defend North America; and
  • defend Canada’s global interests and values.

In making the announcement the government said it was focusing in part of the Arctic. “The most urgent and important task we face is asserting Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic and northern regions, where the changing physical and geopolitical landscapes have created new threats and vulnerabilities to Canada and Canadians. This includes the need to upgrade our continental defences to threats or defeat them when necessary.”

The Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) had a mixed reaction to the governments new commitment with Christyn Cianfarani, President & CEO saying, “This defence policy update is encouraging and, critically, has funding attached that we hope can be counted on – especially at a time when budget cuts remain underway within DND. With $8.1B tied to the first five years, and many elements still under consideration, much of the $73B will be left to future governments.”

The two specific items related to space are:

  • Satellite Ground Station – $222 million over 20 years to build a new satellite ground station in the Arctic. This ground station will improve our ability to detect, deter and respond to malign activities and to communicate those threats quickly with our most trusted partners.
  • Worldwide Satellite Communications – $5.5 billion over 20 years to acquire a comprehensive worldwide satellite communication capability. Working with our allies, we will jointly develop updated access to the satellite constellations that enable the military to operate effectively around the world, including by better defending its communications against jamming or disruptions by adversaries while deployed.

There were other items that crossover into the space realm including contributing to Integrated Air and Missile Defence and funding for a NATO Innovation Fund.

An important item for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and families were the following commitments.

  • $295 million over 20 years to establish a CAF housing strategy, build new housing, and rehabilitate existing housing so CAF members have safe and affordable places to call home where they and their families are posted.
  • $497 million over 20 years to accelerate development of an electronic health record platform to improve the continuity of care as CAF members move between provinces and territories.
  • $100 million over five years to improve childcare access for CAF personnel on bases across Canada.

And Reforming Personnel Management Policies

  • We will explore adjusting personnel policies related to compensation and benefits, human resources, leave, and other supports for work-life balance for those in uniform. Our current framework was put in place decades ago and does not address the expectations and realities of today’s members.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and Executive Vice President, Content of SpaceNews. Boucher has 25+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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