David Pugliese reports (Canadian military seeking another $233 million in savings, Vancouver Sun, 19 January 2010) that the Department of National Defence is facing another $233 million in budget “adjustments” by the end of March. However, like the $190 million in “adjustments” reported earlier, the money DND plans to save will not be removed from the overall military budget. Instead, it will be redirected to areas the department considers to be higher in priority.
DND spokesperson Kathleen Guillot affirms that such adjustments “are not cuts”, calling them instead “a normal part of fiscal management”. Liberal Senator Colin Kenny is not convinced, describing the government as “a bunch of hypocrites pretending that these are not cuts.” However, while real cutbacks will take place in areas such as reservist training, there is no evidence that DND’s overall budget is being reduced.
In fact, this year’s overall budget is expected to be nearly 10% higher than last year’s, and 56% higher than the 1998-99 budget–even after accounting for the effects of inflation. (See Canadian Military Spending 2009 for more information. Guillot herself puts the increase in DND’s overall budget at about 50% over just the last seven years, but this figure apparently does not account for inflation.)
At this point, it is not clear where DND’s internal savings are to be spent. One possibility is that the direct and indirect costs of the Afghanistan mission have exceeded DND’s projections (as usual) but that this time the government is unwilling to increase the federal deficit by appropriating additional cash for the department, forcing it to find the money within its existing $21-billion budget.
Photo by Master Corporal Robert Bottrill, Canadian Forces Combat Camera