Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 1 - Evidence - Meeting of December 2, 2013


OTTAWA, Monday, December 2, 2013

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 4:10 p.m. to examine and report on Canada's national security and defence policies, practices, circumstances and capabilities (topic: follow-up to the committee's reports on the reserves and on sovereignty and security in the Arctic).

Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Honourable senators, I would like to welcome viewers to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for Monday, December 2, 2013. Before we welcome our witnesses, I would like to begin by introducing the senators around the table, and our staff as well. My name is Dan Lang, a senator from Yukon. To my immediate left is the clerk of the committee, Josée Thérien. On my right are the Library of Parliament analysts assigned to the committee, Holly Porteous and Wolfgang Koerner.

I would like to go around the table and have the senators introduce themselves and state the region they represent, starting with the deputy chair.

[Translation]

Senator Dallaire: Roméo Dallaire, and I represent the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

[English]

Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell, Alberta.

Senator Day: Senator Joseph Day, New Brunswick.

Senator Segal: Hugh Segal, Kingston-Frontenac-Leeds, Ontario.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais from Quebec.

[English]

Senator White: Senator White, Ontario.

Senator Wells: David Wells, Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Chair: Thank you.

Before I introduce the witnesses, we have one order of business that we should proceed with, and it goes as follows. Just so I'm sure you are all aware, the order of reference on veterans affairs was adopted in the Senate on Tuesday, November 19, and I will need a motion to delegate this order of reference to the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. Would somebody propose the motion? Senator Day, seconded by Senator Wells. All in favour? Any opposed? Carried. Thank you; motion adopted.

Senators, I would like to say welcome once again to our first hearings in the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament. As we all know, the committee has decided to invest some time in reviewing the status of our previous reports. Over the next few committee days, we will return to the previous reports of the committee and seek an update from the government and experts in the field on our recommendations.

As we return to our December 2011 report entitled Answering the Call: The Future Role of Canada's Primary Reserve, we as a committee acknowledge the commitment by the government in the Speech from the Throne. I think it's important to highlight this:

Put front-line capability before back-office bureaucracy;

Respond to emerging threats to our sovereignty and economy posed by terrorism and cyber- attacks, while ensuring Canadians' fundamental privacy rights are protected;

Incorporate a strong role for our military reserves, who are an essential link between the Armed Forces and Canadian communities; and

Assist employers of reservists who are required to deploy on missions vital to the security of all Canadians.

In reviewing our report on the Primary Reserve, we are pleased to welcome two distinguished members of the Canadian Armed Forces: Rear-Admiral Jennifer Bennett, Chief Reserves and Cadets; and Brigadier-General K.L. Woiden, Director General Land Reserve.

Colleagues, we will have one and half hours with these witnesses and then we will hear from Reserves 2000. We will continue our review of the status of the reserves perhaps at a future date, depending on the outcome of these hearings.

Rear-Admiral Bennett and Brigadier-General Woiden, welcome. We look forward to your comments on where we are in terms of the recommendations from our report, and I understand you have an opening statement. The floor is yours.

Rear-Admiral Jennifer Bennett, Chief Reserves and Cadets, National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: Mr. Chair and committee members, I am very pleased to have been invited to speak to you regarding the Primary Reserve. I am joined by Brigadier-General Kelly Woiden, Chief of Staff Army Reserve.

I'd like to begin by thanking the committee for your interest in and support of Canada's reserve force, and in particular the Primary Reserve, which was the subject of your report Answering the Call: The Future Role of Canada's Primary Reserve, published in 2011. In the report, you highlighted the valuable contributions that the Primary Reserve has made and continues to make to the Canadian Armed Forces.

When I appeared before this committee the last time, we had just initiated a number of departmental and Canadian Armed Forces reviews that included the Primary Reserve. One of the key recommendations of the post-Afghanistan Primary Reserve Employment Capacity Study was to return to the more traditional model of a predominantly part- time reserve force with the focus on reserve force generation and sustainment and transferring the newly acquired skills, experience and knowledge from operations or full-time employment in the institution back into reserve units.

While the full-time employment of Primary Reserve personnel was critical to our success and operations, the increase of full-time personnel came at a cost to the part-time reserve, and we could no longer afford or sustain the model required at the height of our operational tempo. We have decreased the number of full-time Primary Reserve personnel significantly across the institution. Beyond this, we are also addressing the reserve funding model, accounting of reserve strength, performance metrics, regulations and policies, and employment of reserves.

The CDS's vision for the Primary Reserve remains:

. . . a force that consists predominantly of part-time professional CF members, located throughout Canada, ready with reasonable notice to conduct or contribute to domestic and international operations to safeguard the defence and security of Canada.

[Translation]

The vision also confirms that reserve contributions to operations and connections with Canadians are critical to the nation and to the environments and communities in which they serve, and we must ensure that we attract, develop, support and retain a ready, capable, motivated and relevant Primary Reserve force as both a strategic and operational resource for Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces well into the future.

[English]

In the October Speech from the Throne, the government communicated their support for Canada's reserve force and their plan to build upon the successes of Canadian Armed Forces, renewing the Canada First Defence Strategy and speaking to incorporating a strong role for the our military reserves who are an essential link between the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian communities, and assisting employers of reservists who are required to deploy on missions vital to the security of Canada.

As we begin our work to renew the Canada First Defence Strategy, which we refer to as CFDS 2.0, much of our ongoing work with the Primary Reserve is being rolled up and will be validated and confirmed through CFDS 2.0 as the Department of National Defence ensures we have the optimal balance of Regular Force, Reserve Force and civilian force to meet our institutional and Canadian Armed Forces needs into the future. Primary Reserve considerations are not being addressed in isolation and are part of our overall HR and workforce strategy, as well as operational and future capability plans and programs.

In addition to the CFDS, the Primary Reserve is well embedded in a number of departmental and Canadian Armed Forces initiatives including our defence renewal, departmental plans and priorities, program activity architecture, performance measurement, force posture and readiness, multi-year establishment plan and the transformation of military personnel management system and streamlining of administrative processes.

We continue to improve not only access to benefits, programs and the spectrum of care for reservists, but also their understanding and awareness of what is available to them and their families. We learned a great deal through the active participation and increasing numbers of reservists on domestic and international operations over the past two decades, and I am heartened by the dramatic changes we've been able to make in inclusion and consideration for reservists in everything from financial counselling and insurance programs through family support to care of the ill and injured.

We have great support from key stakeholders in our institution and across our partners like Veterans Affairs Canada who now better understand the unique challenges reservists face due to geography, our employment model and communications.

[Translation]

The Chief of Military Personnel and his team are working very closely with me to address the challenges of reserve recruiting, administration, compensation and benefits, including the pension, access to programs and care of our ill and injured.

[English]

Our employer support programs through the Canadian Forces Liaison Council have been a key force multiplier for over 30 years. We continue to work with employers and promote the hiring of current or potential reservists in their communities to assist us in building a part-time cadre with members who have civilian careers and support of employers, as well as their part-time careers with the Reserve Force. We have established strong partnerships with groups like Canada Company and Helmets to Hardhats to maximize our outreach and access to programs and benefits for reservists and their employers or academic institutions. The connection the reserve force has with local communities and citizens is the foundation on which our reserve model was built. This vital and valuable link is reinforced in a number of ways including community engagement and support but also visibility.

The Canadian Army has established a four-year pilot project with the University of Alberta for a Civil Military Leadership Pilot Initiative announced last spring by the Minister of National Defence. While the Canadian Army took into consideration the proposed Canadian national leadership program, this pilot initiative is different in that military training will be conducted through the Army Reserve in local units. Under this initiative, interested students may be given the opportunity to earn a civilian Civil Military Leadership Certificate by enrolling in the army Primary Reserve while pursuing a four-year undergraduate degree. Through the joint program, young Canadians will have the chance to fulfill their academic ambitions while at the same time, through military training, pursue broader personal and professional goals in the area of leadership, citizenship and nation building.

Every unit needs facilities in which to operate and equipment with which to train, and Primary Reserve requirements are factored into our departmental programs. Our work in establishing and better communicating the strategic and operational effects of the Primary Reserve Force, a more detailed description of the Primary Reserve in CFDS 2.0 and other key documents and programs will help us to better integrate our requirements, given the competition for resources and the need to establish priorities for projects.

All of this work provides a solid foundation on which to build a force that is ready to answer the call, but that is only part of the equation. The force structure and resources required for force generation are equally important. Let me focus on this in the final section of my remarks.

An ongoing comprehensive review and rationalization of the Primary Reserve will confirm the Primary Reserve missions, roles and tasks and recommend the notional funding allocation necessary for a sustainable and effective Primary Reserve into the future. The work of this review is forming the basis to confirm the necessary force structure, level of readiness, training and professional development and funding requirements to meet the assigned operational tasks and force generation of the Primary Reserve — an ambitious undertaking but one that will allow us to better measure and track reserve funding and contributions across the institution.

The goal of this review and all of our work across other reserve issues remains to ensure that the Primary Reserve is well-prepared and capable of supporting operations as part of a strong military well into the future. This aligns with the DND and Canadian Armed Forces strategy to protect readiness to the best extent possible. In doing so, it is paramount that we ensure value for Canada and Canadians in all that we do, from operations to training and projects to administration, and that includes the Primary Reserve.

In my time as a primary reservist, I have seen a great deal of positive change as we shifted from an auxiliary force with the primary role of augmentation and the basis for mobilization to an integrated, highly professional and respected force bringing unique and complementary skills to operations at home and abroad, standing proudly side by side with our Regular Force and civilian colleagues as a key part of our defence team.

Even in the current fiscal climate of restraint, the value of the Primary Reserve Force and our contributions are recognized and we continue to make steady progress in tackling some longstanding issues and challenges. There is outstanding support for the Primary Reserve within our institution and in our communities, and a true appreciation for those of us who are, as Churchill said, twice the citizen.

[Translation]

Thank you again for this opportunity and for your continued support of the Primary Reserve. I welcome your questions.

[English]

The Chair: Thank you very much. Does Brigadier-General Woiden have any comments?

Brigadier-General K.L. Woiden, Director General Land Reserve, National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: I am very pleased to be here and I look forward to answering any questions.

The Chair: We are very pleased to have you.

Senator Dallaire: I want to confirm the SOP we had where we would be limiting ourselves to two questions each and then come back for a second round. Is that still in motion?

The Chair: Yes, senator, and I will ask for two things: When you do have a question, address the chair, and secondly, try to keep your preambles down to try and get all the questions on the floor for the purposes of the witnesses to answer.

Senator Dallaire: I am sure that wasn't directed toward me. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Not at all.

Senator Dallaire: Welcome to the witnesses and thank you for your presentation. You covered a lot of ground with a lot of words and I noticed there is a lot of staff work going on. In fact, there is extensive staff work going on, and in December 2011, two years ago, what we were getting was that there was a lot of staff work going on and continuing to go on.

We have not seen — perhaps in the way you've reported it or in how it is being reported — whether or not we've achieved any of the milestones that have been enunciated and that we articulated in our report, integration or transformation of administration. It is a three-year program and we are into two years. Where are you at? Is it crashing? Will it work? There is also the funding envelope for salaries and moving it into a more permanent body versus under the O&M, but even more so the operational level that we want for the reserves, the numbers and so on. I believe the term is ``comprehensive review rationalization'' of the Primary Reserve.

If you're doing that, CFDS 2.0 is not a white paper, so how can we determine where you are at in moving the reserves if we don't have an idea of what CFDS 2.0 is? And ultimately will you be able to achieve what it is being called for or is it just going to be an objective that may be achieved?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: Thank you for your question, senator. As you know, the department and the Canadian Armed Forces have undergone a significant amount of change since we were last here. We've been closing out the mission in Afghanistan, so the operational tempo has changed quite dramatically for the Canadian Armed Forces. At the same time, we have completed a number of reviews with the strategic review, the Deficit Reduction Action Plan. Ongoing with those we have continued the work, and I would say that it is more than staff work. We are, in fact, moving, making real progress on addressing some of the long-standing issues.

In terms of numbers, we have achieved our target numbers to decrease the number of Class B full-time Primary Reservists across the institution. Our goal was to achieve the number of 4,500 by 2014 and we're down to that number, just a little bit below. That was part of the review that we reported on last time we were here.

The MPMCT, the Military Personnel Management Capability Transformation Project, continues. In fact, the initial phase was three years. For the information of the committee, that's a project to amalgamate the two pay systems that we currently have for the Regular Force and the Reserve Force, as well as to streamline administration with electronic records so that you would have one career portfolio across the span of your career. That progresses well, and reserve considerations again are included in that, not an afterthought as the project moves forward. We are certainly embedded into that.

In terms of operational level and professionalism, again we are working very hard on retention within the Primary Reserve to retain those members who have operational experience as they return from full-time service either with the institution or on operations to the unit level. We are working on that skill transfer, and on keeping their skills current through exercises, through deployment on operations as they arise. Our focus now remains on reserve force regeneration as the priority across the institution as we decrease the operational tempo, which has been very high.

A great deal of our work is ongoing. As you know, it's very complex in some of the administration, but we're certainly in a much better position now where the Reserve Force is at the table for the discussions from the outset, as we look at some overarching strategies, doctrines and policies across the forces, one of which will be the Canada First Defence Strategy.

Senator Dallaire: I have here the U.K. Ministry of Defence white paper called Reserves in the Future Force 2020. It's got some significant work being done, but it also has some very tangible proposals like partnering reserve units with Regular Force units and exchanging the expertise and capabilities, but also making resources available one to the other and vice versa. This needs some pretty serious work and also commitment to maintaining the operational capability. You've got the MCDVs for the navy, but that is not necessarily the case with the army.

Will what you're doing cover this, including to offer reservists and their family support, offers to employers? Are all those things going to be covered in the staff work?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: Yes. Of course, you are referring to the U.K. model. A number of the NATO nations and our allies have undergone reviews on their reserve force. In fact, it's quite a hot topic across a number of nations as they transition from what has been an operational reserve back to a strategic reserve.

Yes, we have a number of initiatives that are similar, and I do compare notes with my counterpart in the U.K. as I do across other nations. We are expanding benefits and opportunities not just for ill and injured but opportunities that are offered to Canadian Forces members and their families, ensuring that we communicate across not just the Primary Reserve but also the Reserve Force writ large, including access to Canadian Forces appreciation programs, access to SISIP, the insurance programs, financial counselling, so expanding beyond just the health services side of that.

I will let General Woiden speak to what is happening in the Army Reserve and protecting the skills from operations.

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: Thank you very much again for being here.

The Army Reserve has, over the last 10 years, and most predominantly over the last 6 to 7 years, gone through an integrated approach to force generation. The reserves have been a force generation base to force generate a variety of different capabilities for both domestic and expeditionary operations. Of course, the most prominent that we have seen recently are the operations in Afghanistan.

The force generation model has taken certain capabilities and certainly individual and sub-sub-unit augmentation for deployment, for example, in Afghanistan. That model will not change. That line of operation 3, which is the sustained operations, for example, Afghanistan, takes into consideration a requirement by the army to force generate about 20 per cent of that force by the reserves. So the force generation capabilities are done through the road to high readiness.

I think you are aware that the army now has gone to a 36-month management readiness cycle. So 12 months a division will be in the high-readiness cycle; therefore, where we were in a 6-month cycle before, we're now in a 12- month cycle.

That means the reserves, when required, when a named mission has come up, will go into the force generation high- readiness cycle for a named mission and would be part of that six or seven months of work-up training prior to going out in operations, normally at rota one, which is after the initial rotation, and that is really the force generation concept for the Army Reserve. Certainly from the domestic perspective we have the capability with the territorial battalion groups to go ahead and force generate in a very short period of time, like we have just done recently for the flooding in Calgary, and of the 1,800 some-odd Canadian Forces army folks that were on the ground, 410 were reservists out of the territorial battalion group that force generated within 24 hours, as an example.

Senator Segal: I thank the flag officers for being with us here today and making yourselves available to take our questions.

My first question relates to the imbalance that sometimes takes place between the finances that are allocated to the reserves and the actual pace of recruiting. I'm delighted that the brigadier-general was good enough to mention the territorial battle groups because every once in a while they will make in-year adjustments, which may slow the training day cash available to the reserve units in their part of the country. That has, perhaps unwittingly, a deleterious effect on the ability of the reserve unit commanders — navy, army, air, et cetera — to maintain the level of preparedness and the complement strength that they have in their operating units.

The other thing I would like your comment on is what happens if you have a budget that presumes a certain level of recruits and then for a whole bunch of understandable reasons you don't meet that recruiting level; does that money then get reallocated elsewhere in the system before the end of the fiscal year and does that have a deleterious effect around the capacity to maintain reserve level at a level that we need?

I think, as you both said, what we've learned from both domestic application of reserve capacity and the international engagement of our reserves is that having a strong and able reserve was fundamental to the reserve providing that support to the Regular Force, which was essential to our strategic and defence goals. I would be interested in our distinguished guests' perspectives on that issue.

Rear-Admiral Bennett: You referred to two issues that are a little bit separate. One is recruiting and the other is finances and budgeting for that. A strategic intake plan is developed for the Reserve Force; of course, there are some unknown variables, as you mentioned, not knowing where we will have success. That is managed by each of the environments, each of the force generators throughout the year, to be able either to reallocate numbers to certain areas where they're having successes or to take that into effect.

One of the things I mentioned in my remarks was the comprehensive review that we are doing to establish a force structure for the Primary Reserve. Instead of just the number of 27,000 that was communicated in the budget, to define that across the environments, across operational roles, that aligns with task roles and missions. That will drive the funding model, not based on sheer numbers or recruiting successes, but based on those capabilities that the Primary Reserve will provide.

Specific to each of the environments, each has a slightly different funding model, based on the number of training days, to achieve the level of readiness and training that is expected based on the assigned tasks, roles and missions.

I'll let Brigadier-General Woiden speak specifically to the army model, because I think that's been of concern in the past.

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: The army has gone on record recently, and certainly with General Devlin and General Hainse, that we recognize and have protected and privileged, if you will, the baseline funding for our Army Reserve.

Senator Segal: When you say ``protected,'' general, does that mean it's fenced?

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: It's fenced at a baseline. An army commander will say 37.5 days base-lined. Right now there's seven days of collective training. That has been open for interpretation in the past, but I can say, since my time in this position, that that has definitely been the direction the army commander has had, again to ensure that we had that force generation capability certainly from a domestic operations perspective, because that's the readiness piece. The readiness piece for our army reservists for the territorial battalion groups comes on that baseline training, and that's what the 37.5 is based on: days for a soldier if they're available to train.

Senator Segal: I wanted to ask about the Class B reservists. Obviously, with the wind-down of combat activities in Afghanistan, it is not appropriate to renew many of those contracts because we didn't have that same requirement in the theatre.

Many of those Class B men and women, of course, have remarkable combat experience, and one would have hoped that many of them could be reintegrated to the extent their own lives made it appropriate as part-time members of existing reserve units, land and sea and air, because the skill sets they could share with reservists who are just starting would be remarkable.

How has the organization done in achieving some of that? Can you give us your sense of how that's going?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: I can't give you specific numbers of transfers. We did have a number who chose to component-transfer to the Regular Force, and they were offered that opportunity. We don't see that as a loss. We see that as part of the defence team gaining that operational experience.

We did welcome a number back — if not to their original units, there is an opportunity for what we call ``right of return'' in reserve employment policy, following full-time employment. We encouraged people to go back, especially those who could then become instructors.

We also found that attrition was lower than anticipated. We thought that a number of people who had Class B would make the choice to leave, and in fact they haven't.

We've done our best to encourage people to return to units, to continue to contribute. The other thing we're doing is working with some of our partners — like Helmets to Hardhats, and as I mentioned, Canada Company — to try to find civilian employment for those reservists to encourage them to stay working part-time with the reserve with a full- time civilian career that will keep them in the community. It was more than just making a transition and realizing that that impacted their paycheque, but encouraging them to stay in communities and to facilitate that transition.

Certainly across the reserve, we did have a number of people who continue to deploy today or who do want to be working full-time, so they made the transition to other jobs. We did encourage and facilitate, wherever possible, for people to have options, not just to the unit they came from, but other options in areas across Canada. I'm not sure if General Woiden wants to add anything from the Army Reserve perspective.

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: I think it's very fair to say that that's exactly what happened. In many cases, we force generated those Class B and Class C soldiers, the ones who went off for deployment, from the units themselves.

They came from a Class A unit, from a predominately part-time unit, they became Class B for short-term engagement, in many cases backfilling Regular Force positions where, in fact, folks were often being deployed in operations. But we brought them back in many ways, back to their home units, and I think we've been fairly successful in doing that.

I would also mention that in many cases, I don't have exact numbers, but certainly in the Army Reserve, a lot of our Class B individuals also held part-time Class A positions within their home units. There was this constant thing.

We got them back quite a bit. Those who left probably may have been annuitants for the end of their service and some have left as a result as well.

Senator Mitchell: My question follows on Senator Segal's. It concerns the 37/7 training formula, if I can put it that way, and its integrity, as it were.

That is to say two things: Do you have enough money for the fuel, ammunition, food, supplies and the materiel to exploit those days of training adequately? And if militia reserves are deployed, say, to Calgary — which was greatly appreciated, being from Alberta, and being Canadian, more broadly — do those days come out of the 37/7, or do you receive funding in addition so you can ensure the base 37/7 training?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: I'll speak in generic terms first, and then I will let General Woiden speak to the specific Army Reserve training model.

Funding for operations normally comes out of a different pot of money, although initially we may pay for that. Some of it comes from internal sources and some is external to the department; so operations generally are funded differently than reserve training is.

As well, reservists on operations are on Class C, which allows them a higher rate of pay and a more comprehensive package of benefits.

What we consider to be reserve training and Reserve Force generation, that would normally happen at the unit level or individual or collective training is a different pot of money.

One of the things you brought up is whether we're resourced, not just in terms of that pay for the training, but in terms of the equipment and the other issues that go with that. That's also part of our work that we're doing now, to better define and refine what the reserve task's roles and missions are so we can ensure that we're equipped to those.

As General Woiden spoke about the managed levels of readiness, there's realizing that not everyone needs every piece of equipment all of the time but has to have fair access and familiarity with that equipment when they are deployed.

Again, we're working through to establish and to better communicate and embed that information so that there aren't ever-changing requirements for the Reserve Force.

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: The operations and maintenance, the O&M portion you are talking about— the fuel, the ability to move folks from place to place — there are always challenges with that, as you can imagine, with the ongoing fiscal constraint, but in the army funding model, we have the baseline sustainment training of 37.5 days.

We also have a collective training component, which is seven days allocated collective training, which is for a percentage, roughly 50 per cent of the entire force, the reserve army that goes out and trains on a collective basis.

Our focus is to get them out and do the collective training and that we have the appropriate operations and maintenance, O&M funding, in place to do that. That is allocated within the existing budgets that are devolved down to each of the divisions.

Senator Mitchell: But it's only 50 per cent who get the seven?

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: For the collective training, yes. Realistically, we never get everybody out in that mass. That traditionally has been the number that we've tried to do, and it's on par.

Senator Mitchell: Rear-Admiral Bennett, you said that you're working on this, but what about the interim? What about while you're working on this? What's happening?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: In the interim, we're using the existing model, and there is enough flexibility in that, the way we're funded. Because, as you know, with part-time members at a unit, attendance isn't always 100 per cent, so there is some flexibility at the level of unit commanders. There are also periods of review throughout the year in which you can apply for additional funding as you require it.

We're trying to plan the calendar year up front so it is predictable for reservists so that commanding officers can commit and hold those funds for them.

The existing models are in place until we come up with a new model. It's not going to be a huge change. We're using the environmental or the force generator's current models and then embedding those across Canadian Forces doctrine.

The Chair: I want to follow up on that question because that's one of the reasons for the hearing, to ensure the reservists are provided with the necessary tools and financial resources to be able to meet their responsibilities. I just wanted to follow up on Senator Mitchell's questions.

I've heard, and I think other senators have been told, that in some cases on the front line, the reservists are in a situation where, yes, certain things are being paid for, but at the end of the day, there isn't money necessarily, for example, to fuel the vehicle to do the exercises. I am using that as a broad example.

We're looking for assurances that the programs in place are adequately funded on the operation and maintenance side so that these reservists, when they go there on a Thursday or a Saturday night, are assured that the programs they're about to undertake are able to be completed. Can you give us that assurance?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: We're trying now to rebalance ambition as well because people were training to a very high standard or a very high level of readiness. The training standard for the Reserve Force is the same as the Regular Force now, so there isn't as much of the top-up training required.

What we have done across all of the force generators is to try to determine what is in the art of the possible on a Tuesday or a Thursday or a weekend, to better define those and fund those requirements.

In terms of equipment, maintenance, travel and those other opportunities, we are building a model that does factor those in more efficiently and effectively than we're doing now. Part of our challenge in the past was that we tended to front-end load at the beginning of the training year and spend a great deal of resources in those first couple of quarters, which meant there may have been challenges in the later part of the year.

Certainly all of the force generators or the commanders of the environments that have primary reservists are setting funding that will allow them to achieve what they should be training to. If a commanding officer chooses to do additional training, then that is where they run into challenges.

Certainly in terms of the Army Reserve model now, that has been communicated to commanding officers by the Commander of the Canadian Army, so they know they have that number of funding days and they know they can have that guarantee from him.

It's a little different across Health Services Reserve and the Naval Reserve, and of course the RCAF doesn't have reserve units per se; they have integrated wings and squadrons, so it's a slightly different model there.

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: I think that has answered the point.

The Chair: Perhaps I can pursue that further. Senator Dagenais.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Thank you to our two witnesses. I had the pleasure of serving in the Army Reserve, the Royal Canadian Hussars, a number of years ago.

In your presentation, Rear-Admiral Bennett, you spoke about the challenge of recruitment. You also mentioned that you are recruiting online.

Could you please tell me whether online recruitment is working well? Have you reached your goals?

[English]

Rear-Admiral Bennett: We're very pleased with the option of being able to do recruiting online. There are some initial challenges with capacity with that system, and we continue to work with the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group to look at ways that we can better address the challenges of locations for reservists where there aren't recruiting centres in their cities and towns.

I see great potential in the online program. It is just rolling out. Again, we have been consulted right from the outset about what we would like to see in that program and what our challenges are.

There are still some questions about the role that local reserve units will play in the recruiting process, whether we'll do the initial attraction and processing. We continue to work on streamlining not only that application but also the completion of things like medical, physical fitness tests and security screening.

The online application process is one tool in the larger recruiting process, but I'm quite optimistic about it, and we have good support from the recruiting group on making that work to our advantage.

Senator Day: Admiral, in reviewing the written notes of your presentation today, you mentioned connection with community at least six times, which I think is good because that's hugely important, the connection with communities and reservists. The cadets that you're also responsible for is another way that the Armed Forces and its role can be communicated to the community through these connections.

But I also know there are huge challenges in some of the inner city armouries. Is that part of the role that you see in helping to maintain this connection, to maintain the units internally in the cities as opposed to being far away, where the connection isn't there? Could you explain to us a little bit about what you're doing in that regard?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: I'm not directly responsible for infrastructure, for reserve units per se. We are engaged because there is more than simply the building or the structure. In a lot of cases, it's a building that is used by community groups or by the community. It's recognized as the heart of many towns.

The ADM(IE), or Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure & Environment), is responsible for infrastructure. We're undergoing a transition in the way that projects will be managed so that we will have a more holistic approach, but I can certainly tell you that there are some very positive strides in replacing reserve facilities, in some cases as stand- alone DND or Canadian Armed Forces facilities, but also partnerships. A new Naval Reserve division is being built here in Ottawa, as you know, on Dow's Lake to replace HMCS Carleton. The building in Windsor, HMCS Hunter, is being replaced, and just down the street from that unit is a building that houses not only local Army Reserve units but the police in that city, and they're also using it for training.

We do have partnerships. General Woiden can speak about some of the other projects. Although a number of buildings need to be addressed, we are making good progress in the replacement, the upgrade and also in the awareness of the importance of those buildings as infrastructure for Canada, writ large, for the Government of Canada and for the department.

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: Absolutely. Again, a variety of different initiatives are being looked at across the country with regard to Army Reserve infrastructure. We've got the Nova Scotia Highlanders project, which was announced in July 2012. That project is ongoing. We are looking at a seismic retrofit of the Seaforth Armoury out west, and that facility is now in implementation. There is the construction of a new Edmundston armoury, and that project is in implementation as well. The project at 35 Combat Engineer Regiment is in implementation in Sainte-Foy, Quebec.

We also have a variety of other facilities going in throughout the definition phase, but I would put to you that we also have army infrastructure where in many cases the average age is over 75 years. We have a lot of old infrastructure. Some of that is certainly heritage buildings and has those connotations that go with it, other than just being there to support the reserve footprint.

There are a variety of different challenges, but most important, there are a variety of other projects in initial planning. Those are the projects the army has direct input into. We do have the other ECSs, other environments such as the navy and air force that are the landowner, if you will, for facilities across the country, which Army Reserve units are large units.

Lastly, one of the key things we are doing is focusing on the health, safety and security aspects of all the buildings as well.

Senator Day: You talked about the Canada First Defence Strategy 2.0, and then you've gone on and talked about long-standing issues and challenges. It seems to me that you were suggesting that the role of the Primary Reserve of augmentation is likely to be changed.

You talk here about base for mobilization to an integrated, highly professional and respected force bringing unique and complementary skills. Are you suggesting that the reserve is going to have skills that are not in the Regular Force now and that we should see that when the Canada First Defence Strategy 2.0 comes in? That is, we're going to see a unique role for the reserve that's not augmentation, filling in and helping with some of the skills that are in the Regular Force but need some help?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: To explain, first, the phrase ``augment the Regular Force'' was really more of a top-up role back when we used to be a base for mobilization. I would suggest now that the Primary Reserve has moved well beyond that to a more integrated force. We used to have different training standards, and in some cases we had unique or very different trades and classifications in the Primary Reserve. We're now a much more blended force across the total force concept, with Regular Force and Reserve Force serving side by side, complementary skills.

To go forward, I think that we're moving beyond just simply augmenting the Regular Force. That will be one role that will continue. But again, an integrated approach has worked heretofore on both domestic and international operations. Certainly, across each of the environments it's a little bit different. In health services they bring complementary skills in the delivery of health service but have also been able to attract and hold professionals that we've been able to use on deployments and also to use here domestically in Canada, a slightly different model.

Certainly, the Royal Canadian Air Force has a totally integrated model with exactly the same training standards. The majority of those reservists are ex-Regular Force. So I would see again they don't have an augmentation role; they have an integration role.

Certainly with the Army Reserve, with the Arctic companies that they have and with some of the discussions about civil-military cooperation, CIMIC, the Canadian Forces is considering the use and integration of some of our civilian skills that have been haphazard up to this point. We've had a great deal of our forces deployed to Afghanistan. We suddenly realized, ``Oh, you have unique skills.'' So civilian police officers or engineers or contractors — again not just in CIMIC; we've discovered this quite by accident.

In terms of unique and reserve-specific roles and missions, we are discussing those, but there is a challenge. As the U.K. and some of the other countries are doing reviews, and as we've discovered in the Naval Reserve, when you have standing capabilities that are assigned to the Reserve Force, are they really truly reserve tasks, roles and missions? Because if they're to be provided on a daily, ongoing basis, as standing capabilities, one argues whether that is a reserve role or is that is a Canadian Forces role writ large.

Again, lots of potential to look at areas of expertise that reservists bring from their civilian training, their education, their background, and to explore some of the models of our allies. It won't just be concerning with CFDS as we move forward, but in larger examination of Canadian Forces capabilities. So again, I would say a little bit of both.

Senator Day: That's helpful, but I'm not sure that I fully share your view that the word ``augmentation'' has a bad connotation.

Rear-Admiral Bennett: It depends where you sit. Certainly, for those of us who grew up in the augment days, it almost marginalized the reserve to ``don't call us we'll call you when we need to be augmented.'' It's not in and of itself — the word is not bad; it's the impression of that. I would say augmentation remains one of our roles, but it won't be the sole role for the Reserve Force moving forward. We'll still continue to top-up and, as the word ``reserve'' says, to be held in reserve, to provide an auxiliary force, to provide a surge capability, but it won't simply be to augment. There are some reserve opportunities that are yet to be explored, but I would say a more integrated approach will be what you'll see as we move forward.

Senator Day: I look forward to that.

Senator Wells: I do have two topics and I'll limit it to two questions, one question each.

Rear-Admiral Bennett, thanks for your answers thus far, as well as Brigadier-General Woiden. With respect to the cost of maintaining the force and the things that have to be considered, I know that I read in the report that a regular service person costs five times more than a reserve.

With the three classes of reserve and the Regular Force, the operational needs and your budget, how much play is there back and forth between those — and I'm thinking specifically between the three classes of reserve and the Regular Force? How much play do you have with respect to maintaining your budget and being respectful of the operational role?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: Just to clarify, when we fulfill an operational role, either domestic or international, we are paid Class C, which is the same pay as the Regular Force. I think the number you quoted about five times may have been from the paper that was produced by C.D. Howe, if it was in your report. That's not actually Canadian Forces data. There is some question about the cost of doing business, whether you're a reservist or a Regular Force. Once you do operations, pay and benefits are the same for reservists and Regular Force. Leading up to that, on periods of Class A or B, which is the part-time service — Class A is normally the evenings and weekend-type training and then Class B on full-time — that's at 85 per cent. That's the current salary. So one could argue that there is a slightly different cost, but the number of training days varies.

What we also have to factor in with reserve pay is the operation and maintenance, so travel. Members of the Naval Reserve have to travel to either coast to go to sea, whereas the Regular Force serving in those roles would traditionally be on those coasts. So it's a slightly different model. In fact, some research was done about whether it is more cost- effective or cheaper with reservists, and it really does depend on the level of readiness, how often they do that task, where they can train and the equipment for that. But once you switch to an operational role, it is the same cost in terms of pay and allowances there.

Concerning flexibility in the budgets, environmental commanders are developing what they want to be the capabilities for their force, writ large, and then breaking that down between Regular Force on a standing capability, a day-to-day function; and reserve, either surge or providing unique skills. What we're trying to do is to better define that reserve piece. Right now there's a great deal of flexibility for the environmental commanders. We'd like it to be more predictable, and I guess we still want to build flexibility into that portion but have it predictable from the outset — that is, this is what it will cost, this is how many people — and then fence that.

Senator Wells: Just as a supplementary to that — I don't want to give up my other question; I believe it's within the rules, senator — you mentioned periods of review where you can apply for additional funding. Is that quarterly?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: It's normally quarterly, and then as we get towards the end of the fiscal year, there are more regular reviews for that.

Senator Wells: The second topic I wanted to ask you about, which may lead in from the first topic, is the question of the one service record, which I believe you recommended or suggested. That goes with the predictability of pay.

What would the main elements of that be? I understand how it would give greater predictability. Is there much uptake on that with regard to your earlier comment of a much more blended force? I guess it would make sense to have one service record. Is there any uptake? How far up does that have to go before it's operationalized?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: It's been approved and is part of our project that is the Military Personnel Capability Transformation Project.

At the present time we have a reserve pay system and a Regular Force pay system. We have one system of administration that we have migrated from handrolic records to electronic records. We also have a separate system for medical records than administrative records. Some of our systems and our processes mean that for a component transfer, one file is closed and another file is opened. What we'd like to see and what we're migrating to with our administration system is that when I join, I will join the Canadian Armed Forces. I will join an environment and an element, Regular Force or reserve, and that will be maintained.

We are working toward that now. The migration of the pay system will also help us with things like pension calculations and compensation and benefits. It's quite cumbersome right now with the two systems because, to be able to be paid Class C pay on operations, you have to use the Regular Force pay system, and you have to be released from that system to go back to the reserve. We are working on that now, and there has always been huge support for that in terms of record keeping. For someone who transfers to the Primary Reserve, all of their personnel records will follow them, so we won't have to send a file to archives or have two separate systems.

Senator Wells: Thanks. It seems to make good sense and makes me wonder why we didn't do it long ago. When will that be fully operationalized?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: Within the next five years. It's a case of building a system that is robust enough because we have PeopleSoft records for our administration. We have a different system with medical records and then a pay system. So it is building a robust system that will encapsulate a number of independent systems that we have now that track everything from qualifications to records and that sort of thing. Over the next five years.

Senator White: I'm not sure; I think one of you suggested that reserve funding was now fenced. Is that correct?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: General Woiden mentioned that for the Army Reserve.

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: Army Reserve funding.

Senator White: Just Army Reserve?

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: That's all I'm familiar with.

Rear-Admiral Bennett: There hasn't been the same issue across the other environments. They're much smaller to administer, and, certainly, the Naval Reserve is funded nationally, through Naval Reserve headquarters in Quebec City, across 24 divisions. The Army Reserve is much broader and spans across all of the four divisions. Air Reserve funding is slightly different. Health Services Reserve also has a much smaller model, so it has not been as great a challenge. The money has been fenced and identified and is tracked by those reserve environments.

Senator White: The answer is no, they're not all fenced. Is that correct?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: Yes, until recently the Army Reserve money has not been. The other has.

Senator White: The second question, if I may: You talked about recruiting reserve specialists. Canada has changed a lot in the last decade from the demographic perspective. Do you see specialists also when it comes to languages? In Ottawa, the number two language after English happens to be Arabic at this point in time. We are seeing a real shift in our demographics. Is that seen as a specialty when it comes to recruiting in the reserve as well? I know it is in the Regular Force.

Rear-Admiral Bennett: One of our reasons for changing the administrative system is to allow for more boxes in language, rather than just the two official languages that we have. It goes beyond language. It is also cultural diversity. The Reserve Force in general is much more representative of the Canadian population across visible minorities, women and Aboriginals. So we're finding that, culturally, it is advantageous when reservists have deployed. They understand the culture. They can speak the languages, and, in a lot of cases, as you mentioned, they are native speakers. So it does not require additional training. Those will be captured in the same way that civilian trades, qualifications and specialties will be. Across our Special Operations Forces, SOF, as well, language is a huge advantage, just as civilian skills have been utilized by SOF. Across the Reserve Force, we will track that.

Senator White: How is that going?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: As we build the administrative system and capability and capacity, our system of records is more robust. The other is that, based on our experience in operations, we have captured and tracked those. We still send out opportunity messages when we do want someone who speaks a certain language, or they will come to the Reserve Force to ask for things in particular, but it tends to be more of a request basis now until we build the system to be able to capture the records.

The Chair: I would like to follow up, if I could, with respect to the financial resources that are available to the reservists versus to the regular forces. It has to do with a question of Senator Mitchell's; I think he touched on it. My understanding is that, up to 2010, the reserve unit budgets were divided between two funds — the operation and maintenance and the pay administrative — and that, at one time, you could move the surplus from one fund to another in order to carry on your operations. I understand that now that's not the case. Is that true?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: There is still flexibility to transfer between votes, but not all of them. You can transfer O&M to pay and vice versa. You do have to request. You can't just change that at the unit level. It does have to be approved to be able to transfer that. That is also one of the unique factors of reserve service. It isn't just the pay. It's the pay plus the operation and maintenance. So, again, we have to factor in both of those capabilities and capacities, but, yes, there is flexibility to transfer.

The Chair: I just want to follow up a little further, if I could. At the outset, I said that the real concern here is that there are enough financial resources for the reserves to function on an ongoing basis, not just for this year but also in the years to come, for what we're asking them to do. I really have a problem with the word ``flexibility'' because it all depends on who is expressing flexibility. Is the money set aside for the reserves fenced as a straight commitment to reserves, or is there the ability to take that money on an annual basis if the regular forces decide it should be moved from reserves to some other area for programming?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: In terms of financial accounting, your last point is true. However, we are working on those mechanisms where reserve allocations are more predictable and tracked. So there is reserve pay. The wage envelope for reserve pay is a certain amount allocated to commanders. There is discretion by commanders as to how they allocate that money, but I would say that it's a much better system now, both in terms of the allocation and the predictability of that money. Certainly, in the case of the army commander, which was not the case before, he has said, ``I will fund this number of days for reserve pay, and I will provide this O&M for reserve pay.'' Again, it is being identified and protected, or at least being better identified than it was. Our accounting does allow you, within the military pay envelope, to transfer. I would say, once it's allocated, what we're doing is building the fences there.

The Chair: Maybe I will pursue that a bit further. Senator Dallaire.

Senator Dallaire: On the one hand, you were saying earlier that if you had a permanent type of task in the reserves, then you sort of wonder whether it should be called reserves or simply be part of the mainstay of the forces. We created all the MCDVs to give permanent opportunities to reservists so that the skill sets that they learn at lower levels can actually be used. You do that by giving them permanent employment in Class B. You've just talked about the envelope, which is flexible every year because you're part of the O&M budget. You will be hit — both salary and O&M — by whatever amount of money the department decides put in O&M. There is no guarantee like in the Regular Force, where, if we say we have 68,000 people, that envelope is covered in vote whatever. Nobody touches that because that is sacrosanct. That is not the case in the reserves. Two years ago, we were told that that was going to be sorted out.

However, I come to the training levels, particularly when you are getting higher in rank. The navy wants people to be trained to Regular Force standards. The army has been pushing to Regular Force standards. The air force just uses Regular Force guys who are now out in the reserve, so they are not even part of the equation. When do these people get all of the training they need to actually fill those positions, and is the money available for them to take that four-month or five-month course on top of the 37 days and the seven days of collective training? Does that exist? Is that working, or are you adjusting the standards?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: Thank you for the question, senator. Let me first say that some of the missions for the Naval Reserve are changing because it is not about generating the capability; it's sustaining the capability. Certainly, in the case of the MCDVs, one of our greatest challenges was sustaining that over a period of time. The Naval Reserve was tasked to man 10 ships, and those ships were used quite extensively, well beyond what the initial mandate and role of those ships were. So it's sustainability. I go back to the point where if it is a reserve-specific capability long-standing, it isn't the generation of that; it's the sustainment that then becomes a challenge for us in that question.

In terms of training levels, they are the same — Regular Force and reserve — across all environments up to a certain level. When you get up to Developmental Periods 3 and 4, there is some flexibility about how the course is delivered. For instance, officers going to the staff college instead of going for an entire year can have a distributed and distance learning package that is the equivalent. It's delivered differently. It is also available to Regular Force members, not all of whom will be assigned for that year-long staff college course. Beyond that, at 4 Wing as a colonel or a captain navy, we've established reserve billets and reserve opportunities, which are funded. Again, it is not all at that point for the reserve.

We are going to work with the Canadian Defence Academy on equivalencies and looking at civilian experiences in master's level degrees that may not be the Master of Defence Studies, but reservists may have experience that is comparable to that.

The non-commissioned members are doing all the leadership programs but up to the rank of about chief warrant officer and master warrant officer. There are some options at that point about how the training is delivered and consideration of appointments. If you're not going on to a senior appointment or regimental sergeant major or one of those types of jobs, then there are some differences. Generally, reservists are offered a range of opportunities, both full- time and part-time, and both residential and distance learning, across the Canadian Forces standard.

We've identified some deltas for some of the trades. For certain trades, they'll train to a standard that is well-known and understood just when it's required for either deployment or a change in mission or tasking that is offered to them. They are not restricted to reserve standards as it's still a Regular Force equivalent, but they aren't trained to the same breadth and depth as the regular forces across all of the likely missions.

Senator Dallaire: Will they be promoted though?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: Yes.

Senator Dallaire: We were told two years ago that it would be three years to bring in the transitional administration. Earlier, you told us that was phase 1, which was not told to us at the time. Now you are saying that five years will be needed to move this. In 1998 when I was an ADM, we were trying to do exactly the same thing — that was 15 years ago. When will you be able to pull this off? Is it with a whole new technology? What is the revolution that is coming that we're trying to get a grasp on, which is promised but with no hard milestones? This is not a criticism.

Rear-Admiral Bennett: No, and I'm not taking it that way. As you know, the Chief of Military Personnel is in charge of the project. I am a beneficiary of that and a stakeholder in it. I have a reserve member who is part of the team to ensure that reserve interests are looked after.

Certainly, in the initial stages as we are building the program, technology is changing faster than we keep up. The system we have now is better than when you were an ADM, sir, and we implemented people soft and went to the system of record that we have now. Our challenge is the capacity of that and building a system that will take us into the future to allow for changes.

In terms of milestones, a great deal of information is available on the project if you would like specifics. Unfortunately, that is not my area of expertise but that of the Chief of Military Personnel. I'm quite pleased with the capacity of the program and what it will allow us to do in addressing some of the long-standing issues we've had in the past.

Senator Segal: Could I ask our two guests whether they'd be at all surprised if at the local level reserve units people involved as reserve participants in our various units weren't quite as optimistic about how the comprehensive review is going to work itself out and are worried, in fact, and this is out of their loyalty to the service and local unit, that the comprehensive review, while well-intentioned, will end up being a rationale for a radical cutback to the size of the reserves and the allotment of cash to the reserves? While I do not in any way question both the good faith and commitment to doing it right that you have shared with us today, you can understand because of the history of reserves being paid later and on a sloppier basis than was the case in the past — it has gotten better but was problematic for a long time — and because of the uncertainty with respect to mid-year cuts in training allocation dates, which become problematic. What would you say not to us but to those who are trying to run the local reserve units and to those who have been recruited and are keen to get training days in? They pick up the back and forth that happens in the mess, et cetera. What would you say to them about the gap between what you're trying to do, which strikes us as quite compelling, and what they hear about reality on the ground?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: One of our greatest challenges in the Reserve Force is communication. There is as much miscommunication as there is communication. It's a huge organization and it's very different across all of the environments and the force generators. It varies from region to region. We have to be very careful about Ottawa- centric messages. I would say that a lot of what we're doing at the unit level doesn't resonate at the unit level. A lot of them are not thinking about what we are doing here strategically.

What I'm trying to do and the work we are doing in the senior leadership is to better position the Reserve Force across programs and documents. As you know, in the past we were often an after-thought. Someone would take a pen and add ``and the Reserve Force'' to a document or a policy. That is no longer the case.

The fact that I am a member of Armed Forces Council and at the table at the highest level of governance means that reservists have two voices: the voice of their force generator and environmental commander and my voice as an advocate. I would say that there isn't as much information on the armoury floors or at the Naval Reserve divisions about this.

I think people here are concerned about change in general. It's unfortunate that we've had a series of reviews — strategic review, which people saw as cuts and adjustments, and the Deficit Reduction Action Plan, which people saw as cuts; and what people see or hear in the media is more about those budget issues. In this next phase as we make a transition, we need to better communicate to people what this means. In some cases, it will mean little at the armoury floor for the average master bombardier or corporal or ordinary seaman. Most are concerned about pay, how much training, whether it's interesting, what they'll do in the summer, having a course and being promoted. Those aren't things we're messing with systemically. I need to communicate through people like Brigadier-General K.L. Woiden, a senior army reservist, and through colleagues and all areas of command to ensure that we get the right messages out there.

Things here in Ottawa sometimes move slowly and have to go through several iterations. Explaining to people what is happening and engaging them, not in high-level strategic speak but in simple terms, to know what this means is critical. I'm not about to have only great messages — great time to be a reservist, et cetera. People don't hear that. We have to tell people as much about what won't change as what will change and give them that encouragement. Am I there yet? No, it will take us some time to do this. Am I advocating not to mess with the things that are really good? Yes, and people need that guarantee. We need to give people the right information — tell them the truth, be honest about what is broken and what we're doing to fix it — and to acknowledge those concerns. The good news is that both of us, as reservists, and all of my counterparts, as senior reservists, understand and communicate that. That's the importance of legitimacy of Class A members delivering that to Class A members as opposed to full-timers or people who are far from the unit floor.

Again, I think it is important to communicate honestly and openly to people what isn't going to change and what is.

Senator Mitchell: The gist of your presentation and your comments has been future status and development of the reserves. There is a legacy, and that is the injured. There are two programs or facilities that deal with them: One is the joint services centres and the other is the family support centres. There is a distinction there.

Can you give us some idea of whether you feel those are adequately funded and whether there is adequate access for injured vets or injured reservists who live in remoter areas, distant from a major centre like Calgary, for example — if it's funded on reserve numbers versus Regular Force numbers, which I think is a problem for Calgary? Could you give us a sense of these questions?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: A point of correction: The Joint Personnel Support Units, JPSU, are the ones dealing more extensively with the ill and injured. Military Family Resource Centres do have an assistance capability for military families, but they are more of a conduit into the larger systems of care. And they are providing support systems.

We have had some great luck in the Reserve Force by actually having MFRCs in reserve units. We have a satellite in Thunder Bay in one of the units and another satellite in Regina. So we are looking at different ways of delivering those capabilities, and defining ``families,'' because in the case of a reservist, you may live in one city, where your family or parents live in another; neither of you have access to those, so we are looking at delivering those.

In terms of the ill and injured, we have two challenges: One is funding; the other is personnel and the actual manning of those capabilities — having the right kind of specialists. Again, this is not my area of responsibility, but I am an advocate for the Reserve Force and I have a great working relationship with both the Chief of Military Personnel and the Surgeon General, who is very concerned about access to care for reservists and very aware of the challenges that reservists may not deploy with the same group in an area where they live. They may be an individual augmentee or a single and going back to a unit that is far from a military base or hospital.

Again, we are working with the Surgeon General to identify the challenges and try to mitigate those.

The JPSU, in terms of number of people working there: We have initially started with reservists in manning a great number of those positions until regular forces were available, because of the high operational tempo. We've protected those positions, and we've made exceptions when other reserve positions were being decreased, cut or declined in numbers; we've protected those positions to allow for a period of transition.

But the need is greater than we currently have, and we're looking at ways, not just through the Joint Personnel Support Unit, but how else can we make sure that we deliver care. Communications, as well — so working with Veterans Affairs Canada and working with the Legions, because there are Legions in more communities where there are reserve units than some of those other offices and access.

So one is getting access and communicating an awareness. The other is the actual spectrum of care. We are working very hard on both of those. Through my shop, we are working on a number of tools for people while they are serving and also for a package before they leave, so that they understand and take with them what they are entitled to. In some cases, the injury will not be diagnosed until after they have released or have left.

We are also working closely with the military employment folks to find out how we post reservists into those Joint Personnel Support Units, because reserve administration is different, and to ensure we have the capacities.

You asked a question about Reserve Force numbers versus Regular Force numbers in that?

Senator Mitchell: Do they have adequate money for treatment?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: As I say, money is one we are working on. The other is personnel and specialists to be able to deliver that health care. Those remain challenges. But, again, reservists are at the table and being considered. Their needs are not being put secondary to Regular Force. It is a total force model we are using.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Rear-Admiral Bennett, I would like to talk a bit about the quality of training for cadets. Is it the same everywhere? In other words, are the facilities the same for all cadets?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: Yes, we use the same schools for full-time training. Part-time training is usually done in the units. There are some differences between the units in each city, but summer courses, such as the leadership school, are normally given in the same school for reservists and the regular forces; the same facilities, the same programs, and the same resources. The instructors teach reservists and members of the regular forces.

Senator Dagenais: Thank you very much, madam.

[English]

Senator Day: In the past when we've had evidence given by others, we were told that there are two or three different numbers for units in reserve units in terms of the established strength, the authorized strength and on all these different terms. So what I'd like to know is this: Have you reduced the authorized number to where — The number of individuals in the units was set some time ago, which was below the — Effective strength and authorized strength were two different things, so in order to save money, there was less authorization, or there was authorization for fewer numbers of recruits coming in. Where are you in regard to those different categories at this time?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: There are about three things that you touched on there, all a little different. Number of recruits is based on the strategic intake plan, and that varies each year based on the number of vacancies, not just at the unit level but across the environment.

Senator Day: I'm thinking more about the unit levels.

Rear-Admiral Bennett: So unit establishment. Unit establishments have not decreased. What has changed is how we report reservists. There is trained effective strength and there is average paid strength. When you want to know how many reservists there are, there are a couple of different performance metrics for that. Rather than simply saying, ``There are this many reservists with ID cards,'' which doesn't give you a valid number of how many are ready to deploy and how many are trained, the Canadian Forces tends to operate across trained effective strength. That factors in the level of training for people, and people on maternal or paternal leave, people on education leave, so you know the pool of people you are dealing with.

In the Reserve Force we use average paid strength as the reportable number, because not everybody parades on a regular basis. Again, those numbers are what we use on a reporting basis.

The number of actual billets in a unit, or ``the establishment,'' as we call it, has not changed dramatically. And what we're doing now is working on establishing within the 27,000 how many of those are Army Reserve, how many are Health Services Reserve, how many are Naval Reserve, Air Reserve, SOF, et cetera.

Again, it is dividing that up so that we have, within that 27,000, the force structure allocated across the environments and aligned to task roles and missions.

Senator Day: Before we run out of time, can you run a comparison between the University of Alberta's Civil Military Leadership Pilot Initiative that you talked about and then you went on and talked about the Canadian National Leadership Program, with which I was not familiar. And how does that compare to — Most of us are familiar with university students being part of UNTD, the navy URTP, COTC, and all of those acronyms.

Rear-Admiral Bennett: The CNLP was envisioned by a group, the Breakout Educational Network, and they wanted to recreate what we had in COTC, UNTD — those programs.

I'll let General Woiden speak. This one is slightly different in that they are being enrolled in local Army Reserve units, so they're actually being enrolled as reservists and doing training with that unit. It is a slightly different model.

Brig.-Gen. Woiden: The fundamental difference is that instead of being a separate unit on a campus, these individuals are enrolled and trained with their unit one evening a week, on weekends. They get the reserve Class A pay. They go off and do individual training during the summers as part of their initial basic training, if you will. They will get their Developmental Period 1, or in this case a qualified lieutenant, crewman, gunner, bombardier or whatever.

That is the fundamental piece, and it is done at the unit level versus on campus and paying the individuals separate for their participation while in university. This way we're taking advantage of the reserve units' already existing program. So we have a Class A force generation capability that's at the unit level now, utilizing the existing vacancies in the unit.

For example, in Edmonton we have vacancies in units that will allow NCMs, enlisted members versus officer candidates, and we can take both into the program. That's the unique part of this particular program versus the COTC program. It's adapting to the type of student we have now. We have young reservists who are going in both at the NCM, non-commissioned level, and at the officer level.

Senator Day: Have you described the Canadian National Leadership Program? Is that what you were describing?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: No. General Woiden was just describing the one we're running, the pilot, the CMLPI.

Senator Day: What about the Canadian National Leadership Program?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: They wanted it more akin to the COTC or UNTD, more like a club on campus that did military training and then their only contact with the reserve was during the summer training.

This is an integrated program and throughout the year they will parade with local units. At the same time, they will be able to get credits towards a leadership program as part of university.

Senator Day: Just one university so far?

Rear-Admiral Bennett: So far.

The Chair: Thank you, senator. It's now 5:30. I'd like to thank Rear-Admiral Bennett and Brigadier-General Woiden for being with us today. We look forward to continuing our interaction with the department on this important subject.

I'd like to welcome Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) John Selkirk, Executive Director, Reserves 2000, to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

Colonel Selkirk, we appreciate your taking the time to join us today and your contribution to our report that was released two years ago. I understand you have some opening comments. At this time, I'd like to invite you to comment on the report of the committee and then share your thoughts on the status of the primary reserves. We have one hour.

Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret'd) John Selkirk, Executive Director, Reserves 2000: That you very much, Mr. Chair. Honourable senators, it's certainly a pleasure for me to be here today. I was thinking of wearing my Christmas tie like Senator Day, but I'm glad I opted for something regimental.

I think most of you are aware of the organization that I represent, Reserves 2000. In simple terms, Reserves 2000 is a coalition of Canadians dedicated to preserving and strengthening the militia, or Army Reserve as it is also termed. We're not interested or we are not concerned with the other elements of the Primary Reserve in Canada — navy, air force, medical. We are exclusively interested in the militia.

It is quite appropriate, actually, that the opportunity to speak to you today has come so close on the heels of a seminar that we held on November 16 in Toronto. We conducted a strategic planning session that day with 30 of our most senior members of Reserves 2000, who came from all across Canada.

I'm going to share with you, and in this timely manner, the concerns of those individuals. When I'm speaking, I'm speaking of a distillation of what I heard on November 16. I'll do that by speaking to each of the 11 recommendations from your last report.

Recommendation 1 is growing the Primary Reserve. Speaking to this point, I can surface the biggest concern of Reserves 2000, and that is that this year there are serious shortfalls in recruiting. We would expect that the militia is going to shrink this year and not grow.

There are a couple of reasons for this shortfall as it's developing. First is that the number of recruits that were allocated in the strategic intake plan, mentioned by previous witnesses, the numbers allocated over the last three years have steadily diminished. So they are looking for the strategic intake plan for the militia this year to be about a thousand below what it was the previous year, and those years are lower than the years before them.

Couple that with some turmoil, I guess is a kind word, in the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group, and it's making for a perfect storm this year. The last information I was privy to, which was the recruiting figures for the end of September — in other words, halfway through fiscal year 2013-14 — is that where they should be somewhere perhaps around 50 per cent of the recruits for the year have already been signed up, they have only signed up 21 per cent. In previous years, they were at higher figures than that. We are predicting that for recruiting year 2013-14, the actual numbers of the militia, no matter how they are counted, will be smaller than they were at the beginning of the year. So they will lose and not grow, as your recommendation was in Recommendation 1.

Your Recommendation 2 is to reduce the number of Class Bs not employed in support of the reserves. I'm paraphrasing when I say these are your recommendations, but that's what I've taken out of it.

As you heard again from the previous witnesses, there is a plan to reduce the number of Class B across the Canadian Forces to 4,500. From what I heard, they are near that figure at this particular time. Our concern is that of those 4,500 — and again, I don't have any real way of calculating this number, but the number of full-time reservists that are required to support the reserves would probably only be between 1,000 and 1,500, so those others are all supporting the Regular Force. Our concern and contention all along has been that by including the salaries of those who are supporting the Regular Force in the reserve pay allocations, you're distorting the truth.

If one was to look at the RPP, the Report on Plans and Priorities, for this fiscal year, you'll see that reserve pay for all services is somewhere north of half a billion dollars. It's about $587 million. If I calculate that every Class A reservist was going to get 60 days' pay — which, when you consider career courses and that sort of thing, that's not a bad number, I don't think — and a thousand reservists are going to be employed in direct support of the militia — in other words, serving the Reserve Force — if I add those salaries together, it only comes to about $260 million. So by my simple back-of-the-cigarette-package calculations, at least half of the money that is appropriated and allocated for reserve pay is actually going to fill holes in the Regular Force establishment.

We feel that when Canadians look at the total cost that the RPP shows for the reserves, and the total cost that the RPP for this fiscal year shows is $1.4 billion, it's our contention that Canadians are not seeing the true picture, because it doesn't cost that much to keep the paltry number of Class As that we have on the armoury floor. We feel that the full cost estimate in the RPP for the Reserve Force should be the subject of an independent audit.

Your Recommendation 3, and I love these words, because they reflect what reservists have been crying for, is ``stable, predictable, non-discretionary and protected'' reserve pay. I understand from the questions to the previous witnesses that you do understand the absolute necessity and the value of those words.

There was a particularly bad episode of money, and as Senator Dallaire identified just a few minutes ago, back in late 2009 money was taken out of the reserve pay budget, the militia pay budget in particular, for other purposes, which caused many units to be told, in late December 2009, that they would have to stop parading, more or less — I think they were going to be allowed one day a month or something — until the end of the fiscal year. For three months they were going to take money away from the reservists and just let the chips fall where they may. The chips, if they had fallen that way, would have resulted in a large number of reservists just leaving because they need that money.

At any rate, Minister MacKay ordered or directed or discussed with the senior leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces the necessity of putting a policy in place to put reserve pay on the same footing as Regular Force pay and the civilian wage envelope of the Department of National Defence.

To date, as we heard, that has not occurred. The army has done some good things and we are pleased that, first of all, General Devlin, and apparently his successor is carrying this policy on, has — I won't even say fenced off, roped off those 37.5 days plus 7. But again, that's not the whole picture.

Once again, as Senator Dallaire so correctly identified, a change of heart, a change of anything at the last minute still means that that money could be taken out of the budget because it's classed as O&M. It's not locked in as the other wage envelopes are. So we are still crying for a policy that would make it impossible to take that money out. That has not happened.

Recommendation 4 is mobilization. Reserves 2000 disagrees that mobilization should be eliminated as a role for the militia.

I wrote to Senator Wallin after this report came out and made my points there, and I have a copy of that letter if your clerk does not have it that I can make available to you. I'll give you a copy before I leave.

We feel that the militia must continue to have a mobilization role, because the absolutely tiny size for just the army field force, which, if you took all the people in the army who it is capable of deploying to the field, that is with the right uniforms and the right vehicles and the radios and all the equipment, you could probably put about 12,000 people in the field.

I hope not in the immediate future, but one day Canada will face a crisis where we're going to need more than 12,000 soldiers, and having a mobilization plan is the only way to have that insurance policy in your pocket.

So we disagree with that. That was the only recommendation of that report we disagreed with, and we still disagree with it.

Number 5 is the link with Canadians. We were delighted to see the announcement for the Civil Military Leadership Pilot Initiative at the University of Alberta. We feel this will obviously strengthen the links between the Armed Forces and communities, especially if that goes out to be a full-blown program at some point, but it will also have a positive effect, we hope, on reserve officer and NCM leadership.

The second biggest problem after recruiting that our supporters identified on November 16 was that the militia units are lacking in officers and lacking in junior leaders. You cannot grow and you cannot provide a capability without that leadership.

For years this has been a problem, and it has not been fixed. This may help, but it's going to take a lot more than that.

Your Recommendation 6 is to streamline administration. I think you're onto this particular subject. There's a lot that still needs to be done.

We know, for example — this was reported again to me a couple of weeks ago — that people are waiting for up to two years after they retire from the militia for their pension to commence. This would seem to be unacceptable.

I know that there's a committee of the house chaired by Mr. David Christopherson, Member of Parliament for Hamilton Centre. He did look into this, and the vice chief was really told in no uncertain terms that this was unacceptable, and that was about two years ago. That hasn't been fixed.

Another example of these kinds of problems is the organization that replaced the defence research council — I can't remember the new title — has recently done a study of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group. They're reporting that the average time, from the start of a reserve recruit first being looked at by the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre until the time that he or she is enrolled, is 166 days.

Once again that would seem to be an absolutely inordinate amount of time, and it's no wonder that young Canadians choose other things to do with their time. If they can go down to McDonald's and be hired in a week, which I suspect is probably just about how much time it takes to be hired for those kinds of jobs, it's amazing, actually, that a number of them do stick around through that process in order to get enrolled.

Streamlining administration, to my mind, has not yet occurred.

Recommendation 7 is high-level readiness. The supporters that we met with did not comment on this, but we're not aware of any movement in that direction since your report came out two years ago.

Number 8 is specialized employment of reservists. Much the same as number 7: We're not aware of any progress or major changes in that area, but certainly no problems have been brought to our attention.

Number 9 is the retention of experienced reservists. We wholeheartedly agree, as I think anybody would, that we want to keep as many of these experienced people as possible; but we also say that predictable funding, reserve-friendly administration and enhanced leadership production would assist in achieving that goal.

Recommendation 10 is to inform veterans and families of benefits that are available. Once again we're not aware of any issues in this area.

Finally, number 11 is to upgrade facilities. Yes, there's a lot of old infrastructure out there. Reserves 2000 was asked by General Devlin to assist in garnering community support to try to help with partnering with private and other levels of government. I had one meeting with General Devlin, but we've heard nothing further on the subject. We stand by ready to help if we can.

So that's what I can tell you about what our supporters are saying. As I say, this is fresh news, hot off the press from the Reserves 2000 point of view. That's where I would put their comments, ordering them by the recommendations that were made two years ago.

The top three concerns, however, that came out of our session on November 16 that I've already mentioned were the following: recruiting, number one — that is a crisis; leadership reduction; and issues surrounding courses — that's that whole administrative issue about courses being scheduled at inappropriate times for reservists, courses being cancelled at the last minute after the reservist has taken time off from his civilian employment and on and on. There are a lot of things that are not reservist-friendly.

Thank you very much for allowing me to say all that, and I look forward to your questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much. That was very informative. Colleagues, I'm looking at the clock. We have until 6:30. I would ask members to keep their preamble down to a minimum, if we could, and get to your questions. I know our witness has a lot to offer here.

Senator Dallaire: The 4,500 Class Bs, I was going to ask the predecessors why the bulk of that money, which is going to the general staffing of the forces at different headquarters and so on, why does that come out of the reserve envelope?

Why is that not part of the overall personnel envelope or a separate element of the O&M bill but not one that is inside the reserve one, which ultimately skews the numbers? Did anybody ever give you an answer to that?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: The only answer I ever got on that subject was, well, they're reservists, and therefore it is reserve pay.

Senator Dallaire: We won't even comment on that.

Your argument on the mobilization has been an eternal one between Reserves 2000 and the army, and we're not talking about mobilizing a corps of World War II or classic army structure that we used to be fighting each other about. You're talking about ensuring that the base of people can be identified previous to coming in.

Recommendation 5 also says that they want the reserves to be closer to the communities, but absolutely no money, no resources are given to the reserve units to do that. He's got 37 training days. He can't take 15 of them to do parades and cocktails and all kinds of other stuff and events to make him closer to the community.

On one extreme, you want them to be linked in to mobilize, but on the other hand, they're in the communities but they have no capabilities even to keep that link. What's the solution in there that you will propose or would like to propose?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: If mobilization is to be a rule for the militia, then it would have to be recognized that everything costs something. As you say, there would have to be some funding in order to make it possible. That would be my solution, which is, if you're going to be given a role, then be given the resources to do it. Mission command, if you wish.

Senator Dallaire: Mobilization and community would be one entity, and they would have a resource base and a mandate to the units to accomplish that?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Yes, exactly.

Senator Dallaire: Thank you for the supplemental you gave me there.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Compared to other countries, is our Army Reserve increasing or decreasing? And based on what criteria?

[English]

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: The Army Reserve in Canada, as I said, is legislated at the moment to grow very gently in accordance with the Canada First Defence Strategy. That's what is supposed to happen, but we are predicting that this fiscal year, because of the recruiting problems, the militia, at least, will actually shrink.

In other countries, such as Great Britain, for example, the reserve forces are going to grow, and they will assume or at least take on capability that their full-time forces used to provide.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: To ensure a recruiting capacity, have you considered taking reservists and sending them to campuses or schools where they can give talks?

[English]

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: That would certainly be a strategy or a tactic perhaps to use.

The problem is not attracting people who want to serve in the reserves. The problem is with the capacity to get them through recruiting and signed up, and then the capacity of the training system to train them. Actually attracting people is not difficult.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you, colonel. You've made some pretty striking observations in that recruiting is not measuring up, that leadership reduction is an issue and that course access is a problem; erratic would perhaps be one way to put it.

Is there a common theme, and is that common theme that there have just been cutbacks to the military and they can't absorb them?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Well, I think that will always impact. Obviously, if you had tonnes and tonnes of money, everything gets a little easier sometimes.

But this has been going on for a long time. Those three particular problems have been identified for, I would say, at least 20 to 25 years and probably well before that. In those years, we saw fluctuations in funding, and certainly when we were engaged in Afghanistan, there was a great increase in funding, and those problems still existed. I'm not sure; does that answer your question?

Senator Mitchell: Yes. My supplementary to that would be this: You have made another striking comment, and that is that we could deploy maybe 12,000 people now in an intense military event, and that while you hope it's not immediate that something like that might occur, it's going to occur.

What might that look like? What would that event be? What would a military strategist be thinking about in that regard at this time as the possible serious event where we had to deploy a lot of people?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I don't think we're going to war tomorrow with China or something like that.

I think the greatest threat to our way of life is probably a domestic threat, terrorism in particular. Perpetrated by whom? There are all sorts of organizations that you can think of out there.

I think that Canada is vulnerable. We have infrastructure that stretches from east to west, across the country that, if cut — look at the Champlain Bridge, for example. If someone dropped that down, that is a serious problem. We have hydroelectric transmission lines that run from James Bay to New York City. If the lights go out in New York City, I'm sure our friends in the United States would be rather unhappy about that.

That entire infrastructure is very vulnerable to disruptive activity, and in order to provide a minimum level of protection, it takes a tremendous number of people. To my mind, that is the biggest threat to our way of life right now.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you.

Senator Segal: I have two short questions for Colonel Selkirk. Why do you think that the gap between attracting someone who wants to join the reserves and this sort of endless recruiting process is such a long gap? Is it because security and other verifications take time and there is insufficient staff to do it? Or is it because the Regular Force, to the extent they're involved, is eager to slow down the process to make sure the financing is available for them as opposed to for those in the reserve units?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I think the answer to that question lies more in the fact that the recruiting process is probably unnecessarily complicated. Couple that with situations where, for example, the recruiting centre in Sault Ste. Marie was closed this year. The unit there now has to send people to Sudbury for processing, which is about a three-and-half- hour drive. The individual is probably a high school student. The recruiting centre does not operate on the weekends. What will this do to the individual's schooling? What will mom and dad think about that? Probably not very much.

I do know that, for example, that unit was given a recruit quota this year of 16. So far, they have managed to enroll two people. Now, 16 would not be enough to sustain them anyway, but they are really going to be in sad shape by the end of the year. It's issues like that.

Senator Segal: Can you give us a sense, talking now about militia units across the country, with respect to proposed strength, required basic strength and actual strength, in a general sense, how are we doing against those three continuums? Would the majority of our militia units, in your judgment, be at their proposed strength? Would they be somewhere in between? Or would they be, in fact, in worse shape?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Undoubtedly, they're somewhere in between.

Here are some of the problems: The overall strength of the militia includes all those individuals on Class B. The overall strength today is supposed to be about 19,500. Immediately, you have to knock off the slice of the militia on Class B that are employed not in the unit, so I would probably knock off a couple thousand right there. But those are still coming out of those establishment vacancies in units, so the units are already a percentage down.

Following on that, there are other impediments to remaining up to strength, not the least of which is the continual attrition that will happen over the course of a year. If that intake does not equal the people leaving — and it never does — then they will always be trending down until some sort of a course is run and then there is a bigger pickup. So I think it's just inevitable, given those two factors alone, that units will be under strength.

Senator Segal: Thank you.

Senator Day: Colonel, you were here earlier when Admiral Bennett spoke about the same issue that Senator Segal had spoken about and I asked her about effective strength versus authorized, et cetera. First, could you confirm that the 19,500 is the militia share of 27,000, because we were told the overall authorized number is 27,000? You indicated the number of actual reservists was down, and has been going down over the past few years. The admiral, on the other hand, was very clear that the numbers haven't been reduced, and that there is no problem with recruiting; they are getting all they need. I would like you to comment on that and help us out here a little bit.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I said that the recruit quotas had been diminished over the years. The number has hovered around 19,000 for several years.

Senator Day: This is the authorized number.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: This is the average paid strength.

No, I didn't say it was down, but I'm predicting that it will be down this year because the number of recruits coming in will not offset the number who will be leaving.

Senator Day: I think we understand it. The admiral said there has been no problem, so where you differ from her is only what is happening this year, not in what has happened in the past?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I've seen the figures for the recruiting success in past years and it's never been 100 per cent. Maybe that's unrealistic; I don't know. They've been running in the order of 70 per cent, or something, of the strategic intake plan.

It's remarkable that the militia is maintaining certain strength. One explanation for this is transfers from the Regular Force to the militia, which are not included in that strategic intake plan. Everyone expects to get a few every year, and that's a good thing. That's wonderful. I don't think that either the admiral or I are misspeaking, but I think that accounts for the difference.

Senator Day: Thank you. That was helpful.

The Chair: As the chair, I would like to ask a question myself. I would like to direct our focus to the number of 27,000. My understanding is that prior to Afghanistan we had 18,000 to 20,000 in the reserves. Is that correct? I'm trying to get a sense of where we were 10 or 15 years ago to where we are now with respect to the numbers that are active in the program.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: That 27,000 is all components of the Reserve Force: army, navy, air force, medical, legal. The army portion, or the militia portion, is 19,500. Within the last 10 years, the strength of militia has been as low as 12,000 and has gradually crept up since then. Those were very dark days when there was a lot of talk of actually cutting out units and amalgamating units. People left in droves because that's very difficult for a militia reservist. The unit is their family in many ways and when you start to talk about changing the unit people say, ``Well, I didn't join for this,'' and they leave.

The Chair: I have one more question to follow up and it goes back to the recruitment again and Senator Day's question.

You talk about turmoil in your opening remarks as far as the recruiting in the offices. Perhaps you could expand a bit further on that and tell us this: If you were in charge, what would you change?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: The turmoil I spoke of is that the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group has cut back. They've closed a number of recruiting offices, and I think the total number of people dedicated to recruiting has been diminished. If I were in charge, I would take almost all the function of enrolment and put it at the reserve level, as it used to be years ago. That will take a leap of faith on the part of senior leadership because there is a comfort zone in having it all done at the recruiting office, where you have expertise and you have people who are doing this all the time so they get better at it. It is kind of like this: Would you go to a heart surgeon if you knew he only did two operations a year, or would you go to a big city where the average surgeon does 100 a year, or whatever?

I think those are some of the reasons why centralization has become the order of day, but it's no longer possible. You cannot have people from Sault Ste. Marie having to go over to Sudbury three or four times in order to complete an enrolment. In the city of Toronto — that is, if you wanted to concentrate within each armoury a recruiting cell that did all those things — there would be an economy of scale and the better practice of doing a lot of people would be there. To go back to Sault Ste. Marie, if they only recruit 20 or 30 people a year, they don't get much practice doing that and some risk would have to be accepted that they might get it wrong once in a while.

We cannot live in a risk-free world. This is why the centralization of recruiting has grown the way it has. If I ran the zoo, I would be trying to devolve as much responsibility to the lowest level as possible.

Senator Dallaire: When the recruiting side was centralized, we provided a bunch of Class C positions to reinforce the recruiting to be able to do the job, and those have disappeared. We also see recruiting officers coming back into the units, but the unit has to absorb those training days for that.

I think you're absolutely correct. The solution is the community. Recruit in the community, handle the paper work in the community, close to the school and, yes, there will be risks to be taken. I wholeheartedly support that dimension. After 15 years, the other one has proven that it cannot meet the requirements.

For the reservists who are injured, who are allowed to get veterans' compensation, and so on like that, I have not seen a program that has been deliberately created to ensure that every reservist that has been deployed has been followed up on even when they get out of the forces in order to assist them in getting the services and support they are getting, which has led to some cases of suicide. To me, that is going toward a dereliction of duty, but the question is, at what level? Does the unit have that responsibility? If it does, it's not structured to do that, nor does it have the resources. Does the Regular Force base, with the joint support unit, have that responsibility? It's not sending people out there, either.

Are we not essentially abandoning those people who are far from bases in those isolated units but who are bleeding and serving when we call them forward?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I wouldn't say that we are abandoning those people, but I agree entirely that it's much easier for a soldier from, say, Kingston, because there is one of those support service units right there in Kingston, than it would be for someone who comes from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. They will have a long way to go to get that service.

When we had people deployed, if there was a casualty the unit was to go into an immediate drill, dealing with the family and the individual when he came back, and that sort of thing.

Senator Dallaire: But no resources.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: No resources. Nothing extra to do.

Senator Dallaire: Just more work to do.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Fortunately the regimental families often stepped up to do that. The regimental council and the honorary colonel were involved in those issues.

Senator Dallaire: Thank you very much. Those are very ineffective means. They bled just like Regular Force people bled, but, when it comes to ultimately looking at them, they are a different body. It just does not make any sense that, if we can use them in the field equally, when they come back from the field, they are perceived differently because the problem is more difficult. I would argue that Veterans Affairs Canada is looking at them the same way.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: If I may say so, this might be a profitable line of questioning for other witnesses. I would ask the question along these lines: What statistics are available to compare reservists to regulars in terms of, say, PTSD? If there is a higher incidence of PTSD amongst reservists, what does that tell you? I have no idea what the answer is, but it might be a profitable line of questioning.

Senator Dallaire: I will tell you that the statistics don't exist.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I've heard that, too.

The Chair: Perhaps if I could just ask a further question from Senator Dallaire's, my understanding is that the reservists who were active in Afghanistan and other areas are eligible for the same programs that the Regular Force is. I'd like that clarified for the record. I think that's the case.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: It's my understanding, Mr. Chair, that they are indeed. However, the Armed Forces Ombudsman, in a report about five or six years ago, pointed out that there were inequities in terms of, for example, disability insurance and that the leg of a regular was worth more than the leg of a reservist in terms of payout. I don't know where that stands today, but that was certainly reported upon.

The Chair: Colleagues, we are coming to an end here. Senator Dallaire, do you have another question?

Senator Dallaire: If I may, Mr. Chair, I'd like to go back to the infrastructure. The armouries, except for some of the new ones — and it was interesting that the answers we got earlier said we're building one in Regina and one here. We've got nearly 200 armouries, so, if we are building two or three or fiddling with a couple, it does not meet the requirement of many of these buildings that are very old, need significant maintenance and have not been upgraded to new pedagogical levels in order to even conduct training in their own units — old classrooms, no resources and very few simulators and things of this nature. Have you ever argued that, in the infrastructure plan of the forces, that ADM (IE) should have a deliberate armoury or reserve infrastructure plan that is funded and actioned versus putting the armouries in competition with a garage needed for the brand new leopard tanks? Do you not think there should be a deliberate plan for armouries throughout the country?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Reserves 2000 would support that. We are always concerned about the lack of plain equipment in a reserve unit. As you are probably well aware, there is not a reserve unit in this country that would, if everybody was on parade, have even the vehicles integral to the unit to lift them. There are not enough radios. There are not enough of a whole bunch of things. Lack of training aids and facilities, I would say, is certainly one of those shortcomings, yes.

The Chair: Thank you very much, colleagues. Just before we leave, could I ask just one more question? You referred to the statistics that we were 1,000 below last year from the point of view of recruitment. Do you have a report that has been done on this for your organization so that we would have something in writing to substantiate these figures?

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Yes. I have is a set of slides that was presented by General Woiden at the executive of the council of honorary colonels I believe a month ago, on November 2. Those slides show these strategic intake plan trends and the success. Perhaps you should ask him for that. I do have those slides, however. Whatever way you want to handle it. I can email that to you.

The Chair: If you could, I think that would help our deliberations.

Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Yes, I certainly will.

The Chair: Colleagues, I would like to thank our witness for appearing. You were very informative and have brought forward a number of questions that we would like to pursue further with other witnesses.

We are continuing our review of previous committee reports to obtain an update on the recommendations presented and a status update. For the next hour, we will be examining our report Sovereignty & Security in Canada's Arctic, released in March 2011. As members of the committee are well aware, the Arctic represents a new frontier for exploration and development. As the senator from Yukon, I have a keen interest, obviously, in this region. It is a place with immense challenges and sparse population.

Our committee issued six recommendations in March 2011. We are now looking for an update on that report and our recommendations. With us today to discuss the report and provide us some updates is a most distinguished Arctic advocate, Retired Colonel Pierre LeBlanc.

Colonel LeBlanc, welcome. I understand you have some opening comments. We have an hour. The floor is yours.

[Translation]

Colonel (Ret'd) Pierre LeBlanc, as an individual: Mr. Chair, senators, thank you for the invitation to appear here today.

[English]

I regret to inform you that Canada has not made substantial progress since your 2011 report, while global warming has continued to open the Arctic extensively and human activity has also increased significantly. The year 2012 was a record year in terms of minimum Arctic ice coverage, and everything points to an acceleration of the loss of ice in the Arctic. Even the multi-year ice is fast disappearing.

In 2010, the Northern Sea Route saw four full transits by commercial ships — that's the Russian passage. As of November 22, the NSR Information Office reported that 71 transits had taken place in 2013, a 15-fold increase in three years. In 2013, over 620 permits for ships operating under at least 25 country flags were issued to operate on the NSR.

[Translation]

In 2008, 11 ships traversed the Northwest Passage. In 2012, 30 ships did so, an increase of 300 per cent. The largest increase came from small pleasure craft or adventurers who were not required to report to the NORDREG system. The first transit by a commercial ship, the Nordic Orion, took place this year. Two cruise ships have already run aground in the Arctic this year, fortunately without any fatalities. An accident similar to the Costa Concordia, where hundreds of passengers jumped into the water, would become a recovery operation. The loss of two experienced members of the Coast Guard this summer was testimony of that.

Only 1 per cent of Arctic nautical charts meet modern international standards. The Canadian Hydrographic Service does not have the necessary resources to correct the situation. Canada should consider developing only one or two safe corridors to force ships to use those corridors and limit the cost of developing them.

[English]

We have in excess of 125,000 overflights of the Canadian Arctic every year. In 2003, there were 884 polar flights. These are flights directly over the North Pole. In 2011, there were in excess of 12,000 such flights, a 14-fold increase. In the last 12 years, an average of 5.4 per cent of the aircraft accidents, 6.3 per cent of the accidents including a fatality and 7.6 per cent of the fatalities were in the territories. In 2011, Canada signed an international Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic. Yet, there are basically zero dedicated search and rescue assets in the Arctic except for the Coast Guard vessels during the shipping season and a few Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, CASRA, assets seldom used to cover an area larger than continental Europe. The replacement of the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft, FWSA, initiated in 2002 is still further delayed.

I agree with the statement of the Prime Minister that we do not have the SAR resources to adequately cover the Arctic, but I am convinced that we can do a lot better. It is my understanding that you have not yet invited the National Search and Rescue Secretariat to comment on SAR in the Arctic. They would have better information than what my status allows me access to.

In terms of security, I am of the opinion that at this time Canada does not face a traditional state-to-state threat. The nature of the threat today and for the short term is of a constabulary nature and comes mainly from pollutants that will affect the human security of the inhabitants of the Arctic.

We must have the capability to monitor activity in the Arctic Archipelago to enforce our sovereignty and laws over this area, which is still contested to some degree by the international community. We must also have the capability to intervene in a graduated manner if illegal activity takes place, such as illegal fishing, dumping of bilges or drug smuggling. It is therefore vital that the funding of the RADARSAT Constellation to replace RADARSAT-2 be maintained and that we also deploy other systems, such as the high-frequency surface wave radar being developed by RDC. We should also increase the tempo of our Aurora long-range maritime patrols and task the Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups along the Northwest Passage with a maritime role.

[Translation]

I note that the Arctic and offshore patrol ships program has been delayed, that the replacement of the Louis St- Laurent has been delayed and that there are no real plans for the fleet of icebreakers.

[English]

I have recommended that three ports be built in the Arctic: one in Iqaluit, one in Resolute Bay and one on the west coast of the archipelago, either near Tuktoyaktuk or Herschel Island. They will support sovereignty activities, such as monitoring, search and rescue, and pollution mitigation, while creating commercial opportunities, such as fishing and tourism.

[Translation]

In conclusion, I would urge you to encourage the government to double its efforts to correct a situation that is becoming more and more serious for our national interests. Specifically, I would recommend accelerating the replacement of search and rescue aircraft, and that one or two of those aircraft be deployed in the Arctic; giving a maritime surveillance role to Canadian Ranger patrols located along our coasts, particularly in the Northwest Passage; adequately funding the Arctic patrol ships program; accelerating the replacement of the Coast Guard's icebreakers; and lastly, reducing the tonnage of ships required to report to NORDREG and insisting that all ships over 10 tons be equipped with the automatic identification system. Thank you.

Senator Dallaire: Thank you, colonel, particularly for the overview that you have given us, which confirms, if we look at our six recommendations, that no progress has been made, aside from some advertisements on the importance of Canadian Arctic sovereignty.

Do you think that creating a real department of the Arctic, a department of the north, would be much more desirable than any other recommendation to the government? The Australians have adopted something similar. They developed their north. Should we not have a minister, with a budget and higher authority to take charge of those needs and pursue an agenda, with an authority over other services?

Col. LeBlanc: I think it is certainly an idea that should be studied in more detail. It would be important that there be a champion of the Arctic who could take all the initiatives, all the possible responsibilities and make some progress, and quickly, because Mother Nature is working on a different schedule than we are.

The ice loss is progressing at an almost exponential rate. There are a lot more civilian activities in the Arctic. The risks of search and rescue incidents are on the rise. A number of cruise ships are traveling in the High Arctic, while the necessary nautical charts are not available to do so safely. In my opinion, we are just waiting for a serious accident with a high number of fatalities before we react.

I think it would be a good thing if, as you suggest, we had a department with the Arctic as its main focus that coordinated the activities of other departments — because, obviously, Fisheries and Oceans would be involved, as would other departments.

[English]

Senator Dallaire: I just see that, no matter what the requirement is — be it security by putting in patrol ships, be it the Coast Guard with the icebreakers and the like, be it the Rangers, be it the increased fishing going further north now because the fish are going further north — I just don't see why those projects do not fall under a minister who has that responsibility and has to work a deal out with, of course, whoever owns the Coast Guard or National Defence, but has the bucks and the control to do it, versus having National Defence run the ship program. And where we're promised eight, we're now down to apparently four, and it's been delayed over three years. And now the Coast Guard keeps moving their whole fleet to the right, and it will rust out before it gets replaced.

My essential question is, with an impetus like the following, we can argue that the Northwest Passage, or even over the polar caps, would be a good business proposition for Canada in its trade and that would be the impetus for creating a capability of running that outfit from a federal perspective, in conjunction, of course, with the territories.

Col. LeBlanc: I would say one of the things that strike me about the Arctic is that, as a sovereign nation, we have a duty to look after it well, to manage it properly, to make sure our various laws are being followed and that we provide the support to other nations that may be transiting through the Arctic. That, in my view, is probably even more important than creating commercial activity.

By increasing the surveillance of the Arctic, by creating the ports, as I've suggested, by employing Rangers in maritime patrols to look for illegal fishing, bilge dumping and so on, we will create additional work for the people of the territories and, at the same time, meet our obligations as a nation.

Senator Segal: Colonel, you will know from your own distinguished military experience that contextual awareness is pretty fundamental to any command proposition. You have to know what's happening, and you have to understand that. You've made some references to RADARSAT and various other detection capacities we would have in terms of contextual awareness in the North.

But I want to raise with you, if I may, another problem. Senator Mitchell will understand this expression; it's a common expression in Western Canada: ``Big hat, no cattle.'' I don't know if they use that up in the Yukon, but it's used in the West a lot.

Here's my concern. My concern is that, generally speaking, no other country in the world accepts our view of what our borderlines in the Arctic are; we're on our own in that respect. We will look at a piece of water and say, ``That's part of Canada's footprint.'' The Americans will say, ``It's actually international.''

The Russians are busy building infrastructure. They have deployed in various ways already in that part of the world. And I suspect their view of us, to be brutally frank around this table, is ``Big hat, no cattle'' — lots of speeches on sovereignty, lots of engagements, lots of commitments to build this and structure that, but in the end, very, very little is happening.

So the question I put to you is as follows, and it really follows upon Senator Dallaire's question: Until you get a critical mass of business activity, which provides — whether it's for shipping purposes or whether it's for mineral and energy purposes — an economic base of activity, which involves federal regulation, taxation and some movement in of cash in the sense of revenue flow, it's most unlikely, I would say, that any Canadian government will be able to divert the kinds of resources that your very responsible recommendations would imply from the existing day-to-day operation of where the population is, which is, for better or for worse, in the South. How do we get there? How do we get around that? I know your experience is not only military but also private sector.

Col. LeBlanc: I would suggest that it will be very expensive to develop anything in the Arctic. There's that old saying, ``Build a road and people will come.'' By building port facilities, all of a sudden we would be able to support more traffic in the Arctic. The Russians have transiting fees on the Northern Sea Route, which would be a form of income to compensate for some of the expenses and investment that we would have to put in the North.

Oil and gas is about to spring into operation in the western Arctic. As far as I remember, at least $2 billion worth of permits have been issued on the Beaufort Sea, just north of the Yukon area, coming out of the Mackenzie Delta. That is going to generate a fair amount of activity.

There is already right now a study looking into the possibility of establishing a port in Tuktoyaktuk to support the oil and gas industry. And if we had a facility like that, the navy would also be interested in using the facility for refuelling the Arctic patrol vessels, for example. So it's that ``Build a road and people will come.''

The only thing that's viable, in my mind, in terms of creating wealth in the Arctic is mining. That has been limited so far. The only real, interesting project coming up is the Mary River Project on Baffin Island. But until such time as more mines open in the Arctic, I don't think we'll see all that much activity.

There is an area in the Northwest Territories called the Slave Province, which is very rich geologically. There have been various studies to develop portal facilities in Bathurst Inlet and building a road coming from the north to supply the diamond mines, as well as base metals that are in there. In the Izok area, there is a lot of copper, for example. Diamond and gold are easily extracted from the middle of nowhere, because the ore body itself fits in a small suitcase; you just fly it out and it's no big issue.

When you're into base metals, you're into tonnage, so you either need road, rail — something significant to support it. That would be an area that could be developed further by investment from the mining companies and from the governments.

The triple-P approach, I think, would make a lot of sense in the Arctic, and that would generate that kind of activity that you're suggesting would help the government invest further in the Arctic.

Senator Segal: A small supplementary. You mentioned RADARSAT, Rangers, the Arctic operating patrol ships and various other assets. You didn't mention drones, and I was interested that you didn't mention that because I have heard from various analysts the proposition that contextual awareness can be managed through a regular program of oversight — unmanned — but which would produce the kind of generic data sets that would be of great value in terms of knowing what's going on in our North and being able, theoretically, to dispatch assets if there was a reason to do so.

Was there a reason you left out drones, per se, or is it one of those things that you think are not so practical?

Col. LeBlanc: I believe there was a five- to seven-minute maximum for comments.

Senator Segal: I understand. Fair enough.

Col. LeBlanc: The Arctic is a rather large file.

Yes, drones would be useful in the Arctic. Their endurance and range would be great assets. Domain awareness, as we call it in the military, is very important. What's also important is to have several layers of surveillance that you cross-reference. High Frequency Surface Wave Radar to watch the entry points, RADARSAT to cover from space, Rangers to cover from the ground. So if there is a solar flare that knocks out our satellites, all of a sudden we're not blind because we only have one thing to cover the Arctic.

I suggested developing Resolute Bay as a multi-departmental facility from which a lot of operations would take place. If the runway were paved in Resolute Bay, all of a sudden drones could now start operating from there. Our long-range maritime patrol aircraft would be able to cover the whole of the Arctic Archipelago. Right now they fly from Comox all the way to Inuvik. They have to refuel, do their patrol and eventually have to go back. If they could go right into Resolute Bay, all of a sudden the — Resolute Bay is pretty well the centre of the Arctic Archipelago, so search and rescue, pollution mitigation, use of drones, fighter aircraft operation, all of this would take place in the central part of the Arctic.

Resolute Bay is also sitting on the major Northwest Passage route. So anybody who goes across the North would know for sure that they're going to be coming across the RCMP, the Coast Guard, the Canadian Forces and so on.

Senator Mitchell: I'm interested in a very specific question, and that is that we have been talking about getting modern rifles for the Rangers for as long as I can remember. How hard can it be to buy rifles for the Rangers?

Col. LeBlanc: The problem with the Rangers' Lee Enfield .303 rifle is that parts are becoming rare to obtain, so it makes the maintenance of those weapons difficult.

Most of the modern weapons are very small in calibre, which means your tolerances are very small as well. The operation in the Arctic requires a weapon to be used in sort of rough conditions. It's banged around at minus 40. You bang a plastic rifle at minus 40, and you're not going to have a usable rifle for very long.

The Lee Enfield has proven itself in that climate and in the way that the Rangers have been using it. The .303 Lee Enfield is also still one of the most accurate long-range rifles in operation today. The technology is very good in terms of the weapon. It's very well suited to the Arctic. If it was my budget, I would buy the blueprints and build new ones, as we are doing right now in building new Twin Otters.

Senator Mitchell: There is some suggestion — maybe you made it, but it's made elsewhere — that the Rangers could play a much broader maritime role. Could you elaborate on that a bit? What would that require and what would that look like?

Col. LeBlanc: My vision of this program would be to equip the Rangers with a suitable vessel to go safely to sea, one that would have outboard engines that could be sent back by plane if they needed repair, as opposed to an inboard where you would need somebody to actually come up there and fix the engine. With that vessel, provide them with GPS, satellite communication, and the boat itself would be operated seasonally by two to three Rangers going out on various patrols of their areas.

The Rangers know their environment very well, much better than we do, and much better than what our various technologies can do. To give you an example, when I was a commander, one of the indications that there was a submarine in our waters was birds feeding in an area where birds never normally feed. We wouldn't be able to pick that up from satellite. It requires local knowledge from people who live there and know the land, know the animals and can pick up these very small indicators of something that's wrong.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: Thank you, Colonel LeBlanc. I have been listening to you talk about Arctic safety and perhaps about the importance of building a route because you mentioned that some ships have run aground. Denmark, Russia, the United States and Canada have proceeded with a study that compiled over 18,000 square metres of seabed. Do you think that is sufficient to improve mapping based on modern standards, which could make it possible to traverse the area safely using the seabed?

Col. LeBlanc: To my knowledge, we do not have the necessary charts. I mentioned that only 1 per cent of nautical charts met modern hydrological standards. Most of the routes currently being used are used because nobody has ever hit anything. That is not the way to work in Canada's High Arctic. I was on the Louis Saint-Laurent, an icebreaker, in August this year, and the officer on duty told me that they were using routes that had been used in the past simply because they had not hit anything, without really knowing what was on the seabed.

Coast Guard ships could be set up with equipment to map the seabed. I was told that, altogether, the equipment would cost about $1.5 million, and that it could be installed on Coast Guard ships. While they are traveling in the north, carrying out their daily activities, they would gather a lot of information over time that would help us improve the quality of our charts. The same thing should be done with navy ships for Arctic patrols. It would greatly improve our database on the seabed.

Senator Dagenais: There is still a lot of work to do.

Col. LeBlanc: An enormous amount.

Senator Dagenais: Thank you very much.

[English]

Senator White: You were talking about the charting of the seabed. Could that not be done with the drones you referred to earlier, and some of the sonar capability as well?

Col. LeBlanc: There are some underwater, unmanned vehicles. Part of the mapping of the extension of our continental shelf was actually done using those devices.

Senator White: Unmanned underwater drones. So that could also be an option, at least for parts of the Arctic?

Col. LeBlanc: Indeed, yes.

The Chair: I'd just like to ask a few questions, having been a senator from the Yukon and having a vested interest to some degree. I'd like to make a couple of points to my good colleague Senator Dallaire, who wants to create a department of the North.

I can say unequivocally for the Yukon that we don't need a department of the North, and I don't think Quebec does either. I think everybody forgets that there are territorial governments in each of three regions, and they represent their people very well, and that is the vehicle we should use. We don't need to create another department that the taxpayer has to pay for.

That's just a point of view. I wanted to get it on the record.

Another observation I would make, and just so that the viewers are aware, there are significant developments, as the witness has outlined, happening in the North. I can say we can be very proud as a country of what is happening. For example, the Dempster Highway — which a lot of Canadians aren't even aware exists — is our only highway to the Arctic, and it's being extended from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk as we speak. It will be a $200-million project and will help aid and abet what the witness just talked about in respect to the oil and gas. We should be aware those expenditures are going to be made.

I want to maybe go a little further. RADARSAT was mentioned by Senator Segal, I believe. That is obviously being replaced as we speak. The RADARSAT-2 is being replaced now, I believe. RADARSAT Constellation is in the process of being manufactured and put into place, I believe, in about three or four years. But you did not speak to PolarSat.

The reason I raise that is that the Arctic is one of the areas where even with RADARSAT-2 we still have problems with our communications and our inability to do weather forecasting and that type of thing.

PolarSat, in my understanding, is being very seriously considered at the present time and will go a long way for communications in the Arctic and to solve some of these problems we speak of. Do you know anything about PolarSat, and if you do, could you enlighten us about that?

Col. LeBlanc: Yes, I'm quite aware. When I was invited to come before your committee, I was to comment on the recommendations in your report, and PCW was not part of that report.

PCW is the Polar Communication and Weather satellites and consists of two satellites that will be in elliptical orbit, with the apogee above the Arctic. When the satellite comes up, it will be visible to the Arctic for an extended period of time, a little bit more than 12 hours. By having two of them, they would hand over very much like cell towers down south when you travel from one place to another. That will allow high frequency or high band traffic for a lot of the communities and for the Armed Forces.

My understanding is that this is a DND project that is being moved forward. DND is looking for additional partners to pay for the development of that project, and I think it would be an excellent addition to our toolkit to be operating in the Arctic.

Communications is a problem. There was an exercise in early 2000 where the exercise that was being conducted was of a large search and rescue operation, and when all departments went up to the Arctic, eventually, they just plugged the communication hose because the pipes were way too small to carry the kind of information that needed to be carried rapidly. Sending a large picture, for example, which is very useful for a number of applications, takes a lot of time. When you have dozens of people up there using the present infrastructure, obviously, you overwhelm it. This project of Polar Communication and Weather satellite is an excellent project, and I would certainly recommend that even if the Canadian government cannot find another partner outside of ministries, that it would proceed in any case.

Senator Wells: Thank you for appearing and answering the question up to this point. I want to go to the recommendations, which you noted that you were asked to comment on. I notice that in them there is mapping security, icebreaking, search and rescue and pilotage infrastructure. I know you are appearing as an individual, but with your background and the fact that you are a lobbyist in the mining industry, it seems to me a lot of the things that are in the recommendations from the initial report would also help economic opportunity in the Arctic. Would you say that economic development and the things that are recommended within the report go hand in hand?

Col. LeBlanc: I'm not quite sure that you would really increase the economic dimension of what takes place in the Arctic. I'm still of the view that mining is the way to create wealth in the Arctic as well as high-paying jobs. The mining sector is one of the highest, if not the highest, paying sector on average. This would create economic activity.

The various functions done by security forces would obviously increase some activity in the North, but it would be limited in scope, I believe.

Senator Wells: It would seem obvious to me that if all of these were in place to the full extent, economic opportunity would more easily flow from opportunities in the North.

Col. LeBlanc: I believe you are right there. PCW, for example, the Polar Communication and Weather system, would help the exploration companies do more exploration, because, obviously, their cost of operation would go down. Anything that would reduce the cost of operation of the exploration companies would encourage them to do more with the same amount of money, and, typically, as more and more exploration takes place, you eventually have projects that eventually take place.

Senator Wells: Thanks very much.

Senator Dallaire: Chair, thank you for this, but I need a bit help for my case. When you asked a question about the polar satellite, and Colonel LeBlanc responded by saying DND has the lead and is looking for partners, to me, that's not the way the government should look at a requirement. It should look at a requirement and then parade people accordingly with the funding. It's not an easy fix, but I look at the federal dimension of that and not an interference, of course, at the provincial level, where I think the federal government has a lot of outfits involved but not an entity. They have an associate minister, I think, who has a second or third duty to look at the Arctic, but that's a long way down the road.

The Russians have extensive capabilities, knowledge and experience. I recently met a gentleman who set up oil drilling capabilities in the Siberian region using Canadian technology and who has been there for years. Do you not believe that we should be have extensive exchanges — scientific, military, security, Aboriginal — on a bilateral basis between the Russians and us in order to build a cabal to reinforce our capabilities and also potentially work something out with them in relation to that significant water passage area?

Col. LeBlanc: Yes, I believe we should be doing that, and we have, to an extent, been doing that for a number of years. Back in the 1990s, a number of Canadian companies were brought over to Russia to share our experience and technology in building in a very cold climate, something the Russians, despite their own experience, were not terribly good at. Back in 1996, already we were having joint exercises including the Russians, Americans and Canadians, and one of them took place in the Yukon. This goes all the way back. The new SAR agreement in the Arctic now sees communications between the various countries in the Arctic and that much faster than existed in the past, where we would have to go through the chain of command to the government, government to government. Now search and rescue experts can communicate directly with their Russian counterparts. We are seeing a lot more cooperation at the cold face in the Arctic than would happen elsewhere. For the senators who have lived in the Arctic, it's a different environment where people are much closer, and, I would say, cooperation is better than down south. Climate presents us with sort of a common enemy, if you wish, so people tend to work much closer together, and I think at the cold face it would be important to do that.

Senator Dallaire: Although I would like to discuss the need of Canada having an amphibious capability to deploy along its coastlines to provide support in cases of catastrophe, like Attawapiskat and other areas, my real question is this: Regarding Canada and the circumpolar commission — I forget the term — that we are leading, there has been movement by the Chinese in wanting to get involved in the Arctic and maybe even building capacity to do that. Can you explain why that would be something either positive or negative in regard to our sovereignty or our continued control of the Arctic area?

Col. LeBlanc: Our relationship with China still concerns me to some extent. China continues to increase its arms capability. Recently, it has started to make claims over the airspace of one of the Japanese islands, which has generated some overflight by American bombers.

Those kinds of situations are very dangerous because people can make a miscalculation on what the other guy will do and all of a sudden you have a domino effect that gets us into a very difficult situation.

China has been very interested in the Canadian Arctic for a number of reasons. One of them is certainly the Northwest Passage. China exports a lot of goods, and maritime routes are important to them. They had the Xue Long, the Chinese icebreaker do research in the Canadian Arctic on a number of occasions, so routes would be one of the elements of interests to the Chinese. Energy would be another one, as well as mining.

At one point the Chinese were involved in a large mining project in the Slave Province in the Izok ore body. If my memory serves well, this was to be a $3-billion project. China has already bought into some of our oil companies, so yes, they are becoming increasingly involved at the Arctic Council as an observer. They were approved this past May at the council meeting. They can bring a lot to the table. They do a lot of research not only in the Canadian Arctic but in the Svalbard Islands and their station in Antarctica. They do a lot of polar science and if science is made public, it contributes to the betterment of everybody.

Senator Segal: I wanted to ask our guest about two proposals that have been circulated quite broadly. One relates to the notion that although the Americans and the Canadians will never agree on precise lines on the map, we do a lot of things together and have for a long time. NORAD had a new arrangement some years ago on joint shipping patrol and other activities.

If Canada and the United States were to agree, setting aside the border lines, that they would together patrol the Northwest Passage for environmental protection — we have a common interest — that would give Canada and the United States de facto control of those entering and leaving the Arctic by virtue of that patrol proposition. But it would also provide some measure of assurance to the business community that in the classic, traditional fashion, Canada and United States have found a way to work together.

The other proposition being circulated in some quarters is that if we were less precious and joined the anti-ballistic missile undertaking of our American allies, specifically with threats that could be addressed to this part of the world by North Korea and others, with a major surveillance array operated cooperatively between our American and Canadian friends as we did for many years at the Argentia base in support of national and collective interests, it would have a stabilizing effect and would send a positive message about our commitment to work together notwithstanding what disagreements we may have about various lines on a map.

Can you give me your own response to those two propositions?

Col. LeBlanc: Yes, I believe I made a recommendation similar to the first one that Canada and U.S. jointly patrol the Arctic. The Canadian Arctic is one of the approaches to the waters of Alaska. In military terms, you always watch the approaches to your territory as opposed to waiting until the person is there to deal with them. You want to do the surveillance long range.

Both of our nations have a vested interest in what happens on the western part of the Arctic in terms of our economic zones, and we jointly make sure nothing happens that is against our national interests. The alert warning for the Northwest Passage and Canadian Arctic, on a maritime dimension, is already part of NORAD. It would be to further that agreement. The agreement would say that despite our different positions, we agree to disagree on those but jointly we will patrol and protect of the U.S. and Canadian Arctic. That would send a very strong message to anybody else who would want to come there and challenge our own claims.

Senator Segal: The Chinese and the Russians perhaps.

Senator Mitchell: A lot of Arctic sovereignty is established when it comes down to use. I'm not a lawyer, but apparently a particularly strong point about use is indigenous people's use. The Canadian Rangers are indigenous peoples, but they get 17 days a year of active duty supported. Is there a strong argument for that being increased, even to the level of a regular reserve unit, which gets 37 days plus 7 days of collective training?

Col. LeBlanc: I would certainly agree with increasing the role of the Rangers in the Arctic. I published an article two years ago relating to the use of Rangers in a maritime patrol role. One of the strengths in using Rangers is that it would be difficult for the international community to challenge Aboriginal people protecting their area. That is a strong argument for having Rangers more involved.

If we were to give them a maritime patrol role during the summer months it would just be a question of how many days the government or the Armed Forces would allocate to those patrols. I see the patrols going out on a regular basis from when the ice recedes until the ice starts forming again. We could send them out every week or two or three weeks with people onboard a sturdy vessel and provide them with the appropriate training so they have a sea ticket so that when they do go to sea, they would have the appropriate qualifications to do that. For example, we can provide a course to do small engine repairs so they can fix their own engines. That brings capacity to the community in the sense that you now have a Ranger who can fix the engine of someone else in the community that needs a repair.

There is value in using the Rangers in the North. It would provide meaningful employment for the Rangers to protect our sovereignty in the Arctic and patrol our waters.

Senator Mitchell: I was quite struck by your point that the real economic potential from the North comes from mining. Are you including in that offshore drilling or oil and gas exploration generally or are you saying mining eclipses that?

Col. LeBlanc: Oil and gas is a big problem in the Arctic because you are now talking crude when we extract, and the ability to deal with an accident similar to the Gulf of Mexico. When you have crude coming out and being mixed with ice or it's under ice and is now spreading, how do we deal with that? I would be very reluctant at this point in time, because of our lack of technology to deal with such issues, to let oil exploration or oil exploitation take place.

Mining is a different ball game. The risks are well known and can be mitigated quite easily, and in my mind that's a safer option at this point.

Fishing is very limited; tourism is very limited. To create wealth in an expansive area you need mines, such as the diamond mines, gold mines, iron ore and so on.

Senator Dallaire: The 1987 white paper called for the creation of a major tri-service military base at Arctic Bay at the big mining site, where we would permanently deploy troops who would be indoctrinated into Arctic life. That means longer than three weeks and meaning they run out of chocolate bars and are able to operate beyond survival in a more effective way.

The idea of a Nordic military not being able to function normally in an Arctic environment, because it's by exception that we do, doesn't augur well for sovereignty, no matter how many boats you put out there. Do you not believe that the land side should be able to deploy at various places throughout the Arctic for periods of time, rotating people through or simply moving from one sort of area to another, setting up temporary camps, without destroying the environment and all that kind of stuff, but building a capacity? The Dutch royal marines have more Arctic training than we do, in northern Norway. Do you not believe that the DND land side should be far more engaged?

Col. LeBlanc: Yes, senator, I believe so. Back in 2000, when I was commander of then Canadian Forces Northern Area, I wrote to the Chief of the Defence Staff to indicate that I was seeing an increase in cold weather casualties to the army units that were coming up north on a lesser frequency than in the past. The Arctic is a very challenging environment still today, despite all of our modern equipment and so on. If you are a casualty at minus 47 and you have a wind chill factor that brings it down to minus 75, and I have operated at those temperatures, if you don't know what you're doing you're going to be part of the problem.

The government has put in place the Arctic survival school or Arctic warfare school in Resolute Bay. To follow your point, that would be the place where I would put troops, as opposed to Arctic Bay, which is off the Northwest Passage. The weather coming into Arctic Bay at the airport is always a bit tricky, having been there a few times. Resolute Bay is still the same, but if we were to develop the facility, the base itself to have a paved runway and modern instrument approach equipment, I think that would be the place where you would put military units and rotate them on a regular basis.

I will also add that since I left, there has been an increase in major exercises, joint exercises with at times many federal departments and foreign nations, Americans and Danes in the Arctic, and that obviously contributes to our ability to operate there.

Senator Dallaire: These exercises are in the summertime and in reasonable weather. We are talking about a presence year-long, about acquiring skills. Should this army of ours not be an army that has an Arctic capability that is beyond just really familiarization? I took the winter warfare course and even the length of that course it was still familiarization. Should it not be an operational task that we should be able to function effectively with a minimum requirement of survival to be able to handle whatever catastrophe or reinforcing need that might appear out there?

Col. LeBlanc: Yes, I agree with you, senator, that we can do more. There has been an increase in the number of exercises, and there is a brigade that actually exercised in the Yellowknife area this past winter. It was the first time that a unit of that size had actually gone north. We need to operate there more often. To give you an anecdote, for one of the army exercises that was going to take place in Resolute Bay, we needed three C-130 aircraft to bring the troops and the equipment up north. Typically, in those days we would do what we call a cross-tactical loading of the aircraft, so we would have elements of all the various forces in each of the aircraft; you would have ammunition in each of the aircraft and you would have fuel in each of the aircraft. But the air force said no, all the dangerous cargo has to be in one aircraft to deal with dangerous cargo and, sure enough, that's the aircraft that didn't make it to the North so our military people became refugees, if you like, in our own country, having to live in the gymnasium of Cambridge Bay until such a time as the aircraft was repaired and the fuel got on board.

This was a tactical, operational lesson that we were relearning in the 1990s. Yes, we do need to do more exercises in the Arctic so that people are completely comfortable when they go up there, that we have the right equipment, that the communication works and so on and so forth.

The Chair: I'd like to ask a question now and refer to the Northwest Passage again. I believe you mentioned it in your opening remarks. We had evidence during the course of our hearings a couple of years ago in our report by the chairman or president of Maersk, the international shipping line. He gave some very interesting observations regarding the viability of the Northwest Passage. I want to point out a couple of the things he said. He said ships would have to maintain speeds of seven to ten knots for the shorter distance to translate into faster times. What he was referring to was the topography of all the islands, the fact that if you go across the Atlantic you go from point A to point B in a straight line. Of course, in the Northwest Passage you don't.

Second, which really caught my interest, he made the point that the Northwest Passage was very shallow in places, and he stated that large container ships will never be able to work there, destroying the economic advantage.

This I thought was very interesting evidence in respect to the long-term viability of the Northwest Passage. Do you have any comments on that?

Col. LeBlanc: Yes, senator. I was actually in the room when he made those comments and I've been communicating with this gentleman over the years. His point, and one that I retained most importantly in terms of container ships, is the on-time delivery. It is very critical for those containers to get to where they need to go on time. A delay of two or three days because some ice is building and you have to wait for an icebreaker to clear the way would be critical for those container ships.

The question of depth, obviously, could be a problem, but that would apply only to some of the larger container ships, and they probably would not want to go there in the first place. One of the comments he made to me after the Senate hearings was that it was cheaper for a container ship to go from Asia to Vancouver, offload, put it on a train and send it to the eastern seaboard than to go around either way by ship, because the Panama Canal is too shallow and too narrow. Some of these ships are so wide they won't fit in the present Panama Canal, although I understand it is being enlarged as well.

There are a number of arguments in favour of container ships, but for the rest of it there are some advantages. Regarding the ship that transited this past summer, my understanding is that the savings were in the order of $200,000, and that for next year they are planning on six ships to go through. Also, we might see the same kind of increase that we have seen in the northern shipping route: four in 2010, seventy-one in 2013. That's a huge increase.

As the ice recedes further, the Northern Sea Route will be open even faster. Mr. Putin has made a pledge that it's going to be operating all year round. They are building more icebreakers, and if you keep cutting that ice on a continuous basis and using the convoy system where you have six or seven ships behind one icebreaker, that ice won't really have time to reform. It's going to be relatively easy to maintain the route.

Furthermore, in support of the vice-president of Maersk, eventually the North Pole is going to be free of ice. In 2012, already it was free of ice north of the Northern Sea Route, so the ships could go north of the Northern Sea Route and eventually they will be able to go right over the North Pole. In those circumstances, there is a lot of depth and it's straight lines, which is what those ships like to do: steady speed, straight ahead.

Senator Mitchell: The question I really want to ask is how many years ago Senator Dallaire took that Arctic war training course.

The Chair: You could probably ask him at the end of the committee.

Senator Mitchell: I'm going to disappoint my colleagues if I don't ask this question: Clearly you are convinced of the impact of climate change based on science, and would you argue, and I think you are arguing, and maybe you can clarify or reinforce that this is accelerating and the problems that are coming with it, the issues and problems you are talking about are accelerating and we're not keeping up.

Col. LeBlanc: It is, in fact, accelerating. I didn't have the opportunity to present a number of graphs that would show this very visually.

When you look at slopes of charts, it's very, very clear that very, very soon we'll be in open water for extended periods of time in the Arctic.

Dave Barber, one of our ice experts here in Canada, predicted the North Pole itself being free of ice as early as 2017, so just a few years ahead.

He said on one of his trips that the ice all the way up to the North Pole was rotten ice; it was sort of breaking up and melting.

There's a new phenomenon that started to surface only about two years ago, and it's about black carbon. Black carbon is depositing itself on the surface of ice, and these very, very small particles, obviously when the sun is shining on them, get warm and they start going into the snow.

Snow disappearance is also a new phenomenon. The snow is disappearing faster in the Arctic than even the ice. They're thinking that probably the black ice phenomenon is the culprit of that.

You also have methane that is evaporating now in the atmosphere, and methane is 30 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2. CO2 is making methane evaporate, and methane is 30 times more powerful; so obviously you get that build-on effect.

The Chair: Colleagues, the time is eight o'clock. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the colonel for taking time out of his busy schedule to be here. I would hereby adjourn the meeting.

(The committee adjourned.)