Canada’s Defence Policy: Canada is completely re-structuring it’s Defence with a $32.7 billion investment.

News Release

June 7, 2017 – Ottawa, ON – Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces

The Government of Canada is committed to strongly supporting our women and men in uniform. The new defence policy released today supports their dedication and the pivotal role they play in making Canada strong at home, secure in North America, and engaged in the world.

Today Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan released Strong, Secure, Engaged, a long-term defence policy that commits to a range of new investments for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), its members, and their families.

Canada’s new defence policy has people at its core. It places an unprecedented focus on our women and men in uniform by ensuring that they and their families are well-supported and resilient – physically, psychologically, and socially. It places added attention on improving recruitment, retention, and training to capitalize on the unique talents and skillsets of Canada’s diverse population.

This policy is an ambitious yet realistic plan that outlines the Government of Canada’s Defence priorities. New investment will ensure critical core capabilities and equipment that are underfunded and unfunded can now proceed on a sound footing. It will also support growth in emerging domains such as space and cyber, and critical areas such as intelligence and Special Operations Forces.

The investments made under Strong, Secure, Engaged will deliver the support and capabilities our women and men in uniform need and deserve, as they work to make Canada strong at home, secure in North America, and engaged in the world.

Harjit Singh Sajjan, Canadian Minister of National Defence.


Strong, Secure, Engaged recognizes that the women and men in uniform are the Canadian Armed Forces’ most important capability. With significant investments in care for personnel and families, equipment and training, and new capabilities, Canada’s new defence policy supports CAF members’ dedication and role in making Canada strong at home, secure in North America, and engaged in the world.”

-Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan

Strong, Secure, Engaged is fully costed, and it’s fully funded. It is a sign of the Government of Canada’s commitment to providing our women and men in uniform with the care and equipment that they need, and it places the Canadian Armed Forces on a solid footing going forward. I’m confident that these investments will have a direct, positive impact on our members and their families.”

-Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan

Quick Facts

  • One key measure to recognize the sacrifices of serving members and their families is that all troops deployed on international operations will be exempt from federal income tax on their CAF salary up to the pay level of Lieutenant-Colonel, effective January 1, 2017. This is in addition to existing allowances that compensate for hardship and risk.
  • Strong, Secure, Engaged will grow annual defence spending from $18.9 billion in 2016/17 to $32.7 billion in 2026/27, on a cash basis, an increase of over 70 percent.
  • These investments reflect Canada’s most rigorously costed defence policy in history. It is also fully funded. The structure of the National Defence budget will be clarified so that Parliament and Canadians are better equipped to hold current and future governments accountable for defence spending.
  • Through Canada’s Defence Policy, the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF will:
    • Invest $198.2 million over the course of the policy to implement a new Total Health and Wellness Strategy that will expand wellness beyond the traditional healthcare model to include promotion, prevention, treatment, and support, and provide a greater range of health and wellness services and programs.
    • Invest an additional $6 million per year to modernize family support programs, such as Military Family Resource Centres, to provide better support to families when members are deploying or during periods of absence.
    • Increase the proportion of women in the military by one percentage point annually, to achieve 25 percent representation by 2026, to our operational advantage;
    • Transform the transition process to better support CAF members and their families by establishing a 1,200-person CAF Transition Group. The creation of this new group means all of our women and men will be taken care of as they transition back into the CAF following illness or injury, or out of the CAF and into civilian life at the conclusion of military service.
    • Implement teams at Military Family Resource Centres to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
    • Increase the size of the Regular Force by 3,500 (to 71,500) and the Reserve Force by 1,500 (to 30,000) members. The Reserves will also become more integrated into the total force, providing agile and effective full-time capability through part-time service.
    • Replace the CF-18 fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft, through an open and transparent competition, to improve CAF air control and air attack capability;
    • Provide the funding required for the full complement of 15 Canadian Surface Combatants;
    • Improve land capabilities including ground based air defence, combat support vehicles, heavy logistics vehicles, and training simulators;
    • Create a new CAF Cyber Operator occupation to attract Canada’s best and brightest talent to cyber functions.
    • Invest in a range of remotely piloted systems, including an armed aerial system capable of conducting surveillance and precision strikes.
    • Launch a new program, Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS), which will see $1.6 billion invested over the next 20 years to modernize the way National Defence generates solutions through new cooperative partnerships with the private sector, universities, and academics.
    • Establish up to 120 new military intelligence positions, some of which will be filled by Reservists, and add up to 180 new civilian intelligence positions.
    • Grow the civilian workforce by 1,150 employees to enable and support military operations.
    • Meet the federal target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from the 2005 levels by 2030, excluding military fleets.
    • Strengthen relationships with the defence community, including academia and the private sector. Today, more than ever, innovation, technology, and problem solving are critical to meeting evolving defence and security needs.
    • Improve the procurement process within National Defence to reduce departmental approval times by 50 percent, allow over 80 percent of defence procurement contracts to be managed by National Defence, and increase transparency.
  • Today’s announcement concludes the most comprehensive review process in Canadian defence and security history – a year-long review process that included open and transparent consultations with Canadians, parliamentarians, defence experts, allies, and partners.

Canada’s New Vision for Defence

Canada’s defence policy – Strong, Secure, Engaged – will provide Canada with an agile, multi-purpose combat-ready military, operated by highly trained, well-equipped women and men, secure in the knowledge that they have the full support of their government and their fellow Canadians.

This policy will ensure Canada is:

Strong at home, with a military ready and able to defend its sovereignty, and to assist in times of natural disaster, support search and rescue, or respond to other emergencies;

Secure in North America, active in a renewed defence partnership in NORAD and with the United States; and

Engaged in the world, with Defence doing its part in Canadian contributions to a more stable and peaceful world.

Strong, Secure, Engaged is deliberately ambitious and focuses, first and foremost, on the heart of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) – the brave women and men who wear the uniform. Our people are at the centre of our defence policy. Strong, Secure, Engaged supports a healthy, highly motivated, and skilled military work force of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and airwomen ready and able to make a difference at home and overseas.

Strong, Secure, Engaged provides clear direction on Canadian defence priorities over a 20-year horizon. It increases the size of the CAF, affirms Canada’s unwavering commitment to its long-standing alliances and partnerships, and provides vital new investments to ensure our women and men in uniform have the modern tools they need to succeed in operations. This policy transforms how we care for Canada’s military members and their families, from the time of recruitment to retirement and beyond. We believe this is critical to Canada’s security.

Strong at Home

Our strategic vision for defence reaffirms the overarching priority of the CAF: defending Canada and Canadians.

The Forces will maintain an effective deterrent against conventional military threats and prevent them from reaching our shores, while ensuring that new challenges in the space and cyber domain do not threaten Canadian defence and security objectives and strategic interests, including the economy.

We will maintain our robust capacity to respond to a range of domestic emergencies, including by providing military support to civilian organizations on national security and law enforcement matters. This includes engaging in rapid disaster response, and contributing to effective search and rescue operations. We are committed to improving mobility and reach in Canada’s northernmost territories, and we will pursue a more enhanced presence in the Arctic over the longer term.

Canadians can be confident that the CAF will remain ready to act in the service of Canadians – from coast to coast to coast – and sustain a continual watch over Canada’s land mass and air and sea approaches.

Secure in North America

Canada’s defence partnership with the United States remains integral to continental security and the United States continues to be Canada’s most important military ally. We take our responsibility to defend against threats to the continent seriously.

We will expand our capacity to meet NORAD commitments by improving aerospace and maritime domain awareness and response, and by enhancing satellite capability. We will also procure an advanced fighter capability and ensure we remain interoperable with our American allies.

And through continued work with the United States, we will ensure NORAD is fully prepared to confront rapidly evolving threats. This will include exploring new roles for the command, taking into account the full range of threats.

Engaged in the World

Canada cannot be strong at home without being engaged in the world.

We will continue to do our part on the international stage to protect our interests and support our allies, guided by values of inclusion, compassion, accountable governance, and respect for diversity and human rights.

As a result of this policy, the CAF will be prepared and equipped to advance Canadian international security objectives – from conducting expeditionary operations to engaging in capacity building with partners – and to support our allies where our shared interests are at stake. We will pursue leadership roles and will prioritize interoperability in our planning and capability development to ensure seamless cooperation with allies and partners, particularly NATO.

The CAF will be prepared to make concrete contributions to Canada’s role as a responsible international actor, including through participation in United Nations peace operations. We will support conflict prevention, mediation, and post-conflict reconstruction, with an emphasis on human rights and, in particular, gender equality.

Through Strong, Secure, Engaged we will continue to provide protection and relief to the world’s most vulnerable populations, creating the stability necessary for development and sustainable peace to take root.    We will also foster world-class expertise for building the capacity and resiliency of others, and delivering tangible results in those areas.

To implement this strategic vision, Canada will adopt a new approach to defence – one that will allow our military to Anticipate emerging threats and challenges, Adapt to changing circumstances, and Act effectively in cooperation with our allies and partners.


As a result of Strong, Secure, Engaged, Defence will be better positioned to anticipate and understand threats to Canada and Canadian interests, enhancing our ability to identify, prevent and/or prepare for, and respond to a wide range of contingencies. This will make Canada more secure and add value to Defence’s contributions to global security.

We will take a number of concrete steps to improve our ability to anticipate threats, challenges, and opportunities. We will prioritize the expansion of CAF Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (JISR) capabilities, while enhancing intelligence collection, analysis and fusion capabilities, and supporting and leveraging the expertise of Canada’s defence and security academic community. To do this we will:

  • Invest in JSIR platforms, including next-generation surveillance aircraft, remotely piloted systems, and space-based surveillance assets;
  • Integrate existing and future assets into a networked, joint system that will enable the flow of information among multiple, interconnected platforms, and operational headquarters;
  • Prioritize the research and development of Arctic JISR to produce innovative solutions to surveillance challenges in the North; and
  • Increase investment in academic outreach from $500,000 to $4.5 million per year over the next five years in a revamped and expanded defence engagement program that will include collaborative networks of experts, a new scholarship program for masters and post-doctoral students, and expansion of the existing expert briefing series and engagement grant program.

Defence will also enhance its intelligence collection, analysis capabilities by:

  • Establishing up to 120 new military intelligence positions, some of which will be filled by Reservists; and up to 180 new civilian intelligence positions;
  • Building the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command’s (CFINTCOM) capacity to provide more advanced intelligence support to operations, including through an enhanced ability to forecast flashpoints and emerging threats, and a better understanding of the rapid development in space, cyber, and other emerging domains; and
  • Establishing a CAF targeting capability to better leverage intelligence to support military operations.


Strong, Secure, Engaged will provide the CAF with the means to adapt to a fluid and highly volatile global security environment. Keeping pace with the rapid evolution of technological advancements is fundamental to every aspect of a successful modern military: from improving our readiness; to responding to a crisis; to defeating potential adversaries; to maintaining the capability to work closely alongside allies. Defence must be agile, flexible, and responsive in meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities. As such, we will:

  • Implement a new vision for the Reserve Force to achieve full-time capability through part-time service;
  • Invest in, develop, and employ advanced technology to strengthen interoperability with allies;
  • Enhance the capabilities of the CAF to operate more effectively in the Arctic;
  • Launch Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS), a program to create new cooperative partnerships and realize innovative solutions to defence challenges;
  • Modernize and streamline defence procurement cutting approval times in half for low-risk and low-complexity projects;
  • Increase the Department of National Defence’s contracting authorities for goods up to
    $5 million by 2018, allowing over 80 percent of defence procurement projects to be managed by Defence;
  • Increase transparency and strengthen the procurement workforce; and
  • Improve CAF infrastructure and equipment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions including transitioning 20 percent of non-military vehicle fleets to hybrid and electric by 2020.


Canada’s defence policy paves the way for the CAF to act decisively with effective military capability through the execution of eight core missions. We will deliver results across the spectrum of operations; be it in the defence of Canada and North America, protecting Canadian interests and values, or contributing to global stability. Given the uncertainty and complexity of the world today, a flexible, versatile, and agile force that can take informed, decisive action to accomplish the Government’s objectives is not an option – it is an absolute necessity.

To deliver on the Government’s commitment to effectively contribute to global defence and security, the CAF will be ready to accomplish the following eight military core missions at any given time, while prioritizing the health and wellness of personnel and their families, and improving the business of defence:

  1. Detect, deter, and defend against threats to or attacks on Canada;
  2. Detect, deter, and defend against threats to or attacks on North America in partnership with the United States, including through NORAD;
  3. Lead and/or contribute forces to NATO and coalition efforts to deter and defeat potential adversaries, including terrorists, to support global stability;
  4. Lead and/or contribute to international peace operations and stabilization missions with the United Nations, NATO, and other multilateral partners;
  5. Engage in capacity building to support the security of other nations and their ability to contribute to security abroad;
  6. Provide assistance to civil authorities and law enforcement, including counter-terrorism, in support of national security and the security of Canadians abroad;
  7. Provide assistance to civil authorities and non-governmental partners in responding to international and domestic disasters or major emergencies; and
  8. Conduct search and rescue operations.

Strong, Secure, Engaged will shape Canada’s role in the world for decades to come. It will ensure that the CAF is equipped and prepared to protect Canadian sovereignty, defend North America, and contribute to global security.

Backed by stable, predictable, and realistic funding, as well as modernized business practices, Canada’s military will have the tools needed to keep building on its world-class reputation as an effective, highly professional military force, and proud representatives of Canada.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) must be ready and able to deliver across a spectrum of operations – from domestic humanitarian assistance and disaster response to counter-terrorism and peace support operations, to high intensity combat operations.

To achieve this, the CAF requires targeted and strategic investment in capabilities and equipment that can be used on domestic and international military operations. The CAF must be a multi-purpose military force able to offer the Government, Canadians, and our partners and allies a broad range of options to respond in an uncertain security environment. Without investment in capabilities, our ability to defend Canada and respond to emerging threats is at risk.

Strong, Secure, Engaged will renew, replace, and maintain core equipment, and continue to support Canada’s multi-role, combat-ready defence force. The modernized capabilities and equipment provided through Canada’s defence policy will improve CAF readiness and responsiveness, and support Canada’s ability to play its part in the world. These investments will ensure the CAF is able to defend Canadians at home and work with our allies and partners abroad. This approach builds strong, healthy communities and secure jobs, and enhances quality of life. Providing the men and women of the CAF with the necessary equipment and resources allows them to do their job with high levels of professional and personal satisfaction.

Strong, Secure, Engaged will:

  • Invest in modern defence for Canada;
  • Provide secure, stable, long-term, predictable funding for Defence;
  • Defend Canadians at home and demonstrate leadership in the world;
  • Enable the CAF to become more capable, diverse, multi-purpose, and self-sustaining;
  • Create a more strategically relevant, combat-ready force that will anticipate, adapt, and act within a constantly changing security environment;
  • Replace and modernize core land, sea, and air capabilities, as well as invest in joint enablers (space, cyber, intelligence) to ensure the CAF has the modern capabilities to succeed on operations; and
  • Ensure interoperability with key allies and partners, through NORAD, NATO, and the Five Eyes community to enable effective operations.

Investments in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)

The RCN will continue to be a blue water Navy, capable of operating globally across the deep waters of open oceans, and conducting the spectrum of maritime operations from humanitarian response and disaster relief to combat. Enabling responsive, resilient and agile projection of naval power anywhere in the world, the Naval Task Group, a fully networked, globally deployable, and tactically self-sufficient team of up to four naval combatant vessels and a support ship, with its own embarked Command Staff and maritime aircraft, will continue to be the core RCN operating concept. Naval Task Groups are able to engage in a wide range of missions, independently or with allied forces.

Today’s security environment requires that Canada have a Navy that is: designed and structured to operate in some of the most extreme ocean conditions; networked and interoperable with our partners and allies; and organized and sized to project power responsively and effectively far from Canada’s shores.

Through Strong, Secure, Engaged the Government will deliver the capabilities the RCN needs to meet future defence and security challenges, both at home and abroad, and to carry out the tasks required of a modern navy.

We will:

  • Replace the surface fleet through investments in 15 Canadian Surface Combatants. Defence conducted a year-long re-costing of the Surface Combatants. This involved private sector firms as well as international experts, such as the U.S. Navy. Based on this review, Defence estimates the cost of 15 ships at between $56 – $60 billion. The policy sets aside funding to deliver the full complement of ships the Navy needs to provide capability across the full range of operations. They will replace both the Iroquois-class destroyers and the Halifax-class frigates with a single class of ship capable of meeting multiple threats on both the open ocean and the highly complex coastal (littoral) environment;
  • Acquire new or enhanced naval intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, upgraded armament, and additional systems for current and future platforms allowing for more effective offensive and defensive naval capabilities;
  • Upgrade lightweight torpedoes carried by surface ships, maritime helicopters, and maritime patrol aircraft;
  • Modernize the Victoria-class submarines – a vital capability to both the defence of Canada and protection of Canadian naval assets in deployed operations, providing stealth sea control and sea denial capabilities;

And as previously announced:

  • Two Joint Support Ships – will be critical to the mobility of maritime forces and the enabling of sustained international deployments. These ships will provide core replenishment capabilities for supplies such as food, fresh water, and ammunition, as well as capacity for sealift and increased support to forces ashore; and
  • Five to six Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships – will significantly enhance CAF capabilities and presence in the Arctic and augment presence on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. These vessels will better enable the RCN to assert and enforce Arctic sovereignty. They will provide operational capability in the north further into the navigable Arctic season between June and October.
The RCN are set to get up to six Harry Dewolf-Class Arctic Patrol Vessels.

Investments in the Canadian Army

The Canadian Army is a highly-trained, agile, and professional force that can deploy anything from a single soldier all the way up to a large-scale formation of troops. This provides the Government with a scalable, flexible, and highly responsive range of military land capabilities. Strong, Secure, Engaged enables the Canadian Army to recapitalize and sustain many core capabilities, modernize vehicle fleets and weapons systems, as well as maintain interoperability with allies and an advantage over potential adversaries.

We will:

  • Acquire ground-based air defence systems and associated munitions capable of protecting all land-based force elements from enemy airborne weapons;
  • Modernize weapons effects simulation to better prepare soldiers for combat operations;
  • Replace the family of armoured combat support vehicles, which includes command vehicles, ambulances, and mobile repair teams;
  • Modernize the fleet of Improvised Explosive Device Detection and Defeat capabilities;
  • Acquire communications, sustainment, and survivability equipment for the Army light forces, including improved lightweight radios and soldier equipment;
  • Upgrade the light armoured vehicle fleet to improve mobility and survivability;
  • Modernize logistic vehicles, heavy engineer equipment, and light utility vehicles;
  • Invest in modernized equipment and systems to improve the Army’s ability to operate in remote regions. Investments include: communications, shelters, power generation, advanced water purification systems, and equipment for austere environments;
  • Modernize land-based command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems; and
  • Acquire all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and larger tracked semi-amphibious utility vehicles optimized for use in the Arctic environment.
Canadian army LAV III to be modernized.

Investments in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)

The RCAF is an integrated, flexible, and highly responsive force that is able to project air power and support CAF and allied operations globally. Strong, Secure, Engaged ensures the Air Force is capable of a wide range of operations such as: space-based surveillance of Canadian territory and approaches; 24/7 aerial search and rescue; and assisting civil authorities as needed. RCAF space-based and aviation capabilities must be integrated, able to adapt to the latest technology, and interoperable with our allies.

We will:

  • Replace the CF-18 fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft, through an open and transparent competition, to improve CAF air control and air attack capability. This will allow us to fully meet both our NORAD and NATO commitments simultaneously;
  • Acquire space capabilities meant to improve situational awareness and targeting, including:
    • Replacement of the current RADARSAT system to improve the identification and tracking of threats and improve situational awareness of routine traffic in and through Canadian territory;
    • Sensors capable of identifying and tracking debris in space that threatens Canadian and allied space-based systems (surveillance of space); and
    • Space-based systems that will enhance and improve tactical narrow- and wide-band communications globally, including throughout Canada’s Arctic region.
  • Acquire new Tactical Integrated Command, Control, and Communications; radio cryptography; and other necessary communications systems;
  • Replace the CC-150 Polaris with next generation strategic air-to-air tanker transport;
  • Replace the CC-138 Twin Otter with utility transport aircraft;
  • Replace the CP-140 Aurora with next generation multi-mission aircraft;
  • Invest in medium altitude remotely piloted systems;
  • Modernize short-range air-to-air missiles (fighter aircraft armament);
  • Upgrade air navigation, management, and control systems;
  • Acquire new aircrew training systems;
  • Recapitalize or extend the life of existing capabilities in advance of the arrival of next generation platforms;
  • Sustain domestic Search and Rescue capability, to include life extension of existing systems, acquisition of new platforms, and greater integration with partners; and
  • Operationalize the newly acquired Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue aircraft fleet.

In addition, the Government continues to explore the potential acquisition of an interim aircraft to supplement the CF-18 fighter aircraft fleet until the completion of the transition to the permanent replacement aircraft.

RCAF CF-18 Hornet. Photo par le Caporal Jean-François Lauzé, 4e Escadre, Imagerie

Investments in Special Operations Forces and Joint Capabilities

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM)

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) is a highly-skilled, adaptable, multipurpose force that can be called upon in situations that pose imminent threats to the national interest.
Joint capabilities facilitate the improved command and control of deployed CAF elements.

The investments made in special operations forces (SOF) and joint capabilities by Canada’s defence policy will support their unique requirements to ensure long-term continuity and effectiveness.

We will:

  • Increase SOF by adding 605 personnel;
  • Acquire airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms;
  • Recapitalize existing commercial pattern, SUV-type armoured vehicles;
  • Modernize and enhance SOF Command, Control, and Communications information systems, and computer defence networks;
  • Enhance next generation SOF integrated soldier system equipment, land and maritime mobility platforms, and fighting vehicle platforms;
  • Invest in joint command and control systems and equipment, specifically for integrated information technology and communications;
  • Acquire joint signals capabilities that improve the military’s ability to collect and exploit electronic signals intelligence on expeditionary operations;
  • Improve capabilities of the Joint Deployable Headquarters (HQ) and Signals Regiment, including HQ portable structures and command, control, and communications equipment;
  • Improve cryptographic, information operations, and cyber capabilities to include:
    • Cyber security and situational awareness projects;
    • Cyber threat identification and response;
    • Development of military-specific information operations; and
    • Development of military-specific offensive cyber operations capabilities able to target, exploit, influence, and attack in support of military operations.
  • Improve Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive detection and response capabilities.

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